August 21, 2012

Experts Join with CASPIAN to Oppose RFID Tracking in Schools
Tracking technology is "dehumanizing," threat to privacy and civil liberties

A coalition of privacy and civil liberties organizations has issued a Position Paper on the Use of RFID in Schools. In it they call for a moratorium on the use of the controversial chip-based tracking technology.

This comes just as San Antonio's Northside Independent School district is preparing to trial RFID at two campuses this month. Jay High School and Jones Middle School say they plan to require students to participate in the new tracking system in order to boost revenues lost due to absences.

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) uses tiny microchips to track items from a distance. These RFID microchips have earned the nickname "spychips" because each contains a unique identification number, like a Social Security number for things. These identification and tracking numbers can be read silently and invisibly by radio waves, right through walls, clothing, purses, backpacks and wallets.

San Antonio's Northside Independent School District plans to incorporate RFID tags into mandatory student ID cards. One school district in Brazil has incorporated the tracking tags into uniforms. In both cases, the goal is to keep students, teachers and staff under constant surveillance.

"RFID is used to track factory inventory and monitor farm animals," said Dr. Katherine Albrecht, Director of Consumers against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN) and co-author of the book Spychips. "Schools, of all places, should be teaching children how to participate in a free democratic society, not conditioning them to be tracked like cattle. Districts planning to use RFID should brace themselves for a parent backlash, protests, and lawsuits."

Paper issuers include CASPIAN, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Other organizations and notable experts have joined as endorsers and individual signatories, including The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and IEEE RFID expert Katina Michael of the University of Wollongong. More signers are coming forward daily.

A copy of the Position Paper on the Use of RFID in Schools is available online at the Spychips website.


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