666 ALERT! In the Debate Over RFID Tracking, Children Are Testing Ground

Friday, September 17, 2010
By Paul Martin

In the Debate Over RFID Tracking, Children are The Testing Ground

by Aaron Saenz
SingularityHub.com
September 15th, 2010

RFID tags are already embedded in millions of products you buy…and your children could be next. In the ongoing debate over privacy and surveillance, Radio Frequency ID tags occupy a very interesting position. They are invaluable when tracking goods, allowing modern corporations like Wal-Mart to manage their inventories quickly and cheaply. If applied to humans, such ID tags could help with disaster relief, security, and emergency healthcare . Yet privacy advocates worry that tracking humans with this technology could also lead to major abuses by governments, criminals, and businesses. Even trusting individuals baulk at the idea of tagging people like cattle. Unless, of course, it’s for a really good cause. Which is why, inevitably, we see so many programs looking to test RFID tags on children, often to prevent them from being abducted. Schools the world over continue to toy with the ideas of placing tags on students to help monitor their attendance and keep them safe. Are we raising a generation that feels comfortable being tagged and tracked?

Schools in Japan, the UK, and other countries have been conducting trials for RFID tracking of students for years. Usually a small RFID tag, which looks vaguely like a maze of metal, will be embedded in clothing or a badge. Electronic receivers at doors interact with the tags and a central system keeps track of student locations and movements. Such a system is set to be tested in Contra Costa County in California, where preschoolers will be given a jersey to wear with a RFID inside. The school hopes to save money by keeping teachers from spending time on taking attendance and allow them to focus on educating the kids.

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