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RFID Chips Used To Track Down Kids?

Being the tech "geek" I am, I was pretty excited about the mass marketing of radio frequency identification technology, better known as RFID, created to more effectively track the wants and needs of consumers and optimize the means in which products are tracked and sold. When I posted that story, I never thought such cool technology would be used to keep track of children in schools, however.

It all started when the principal of Brittan Elementary School District in Sutter, Calif., thinking about student safety and an easy way for monitoring attendance, considered requiring students to wear badges equipped with RFID chips. Being sort of a tech geek himself, he felt his school could be "on the cutting edge of something." That "something" was a whole lot of trouble.

For the past three weeks, the principal has been on the receiving end of blistering critiques from parents, public hearings and a letter earlier this week from the American Civil Liberties Union and two other national privacy rights groups. Understand, each badge includes the child's picture, name, grade and the chip with an identifying number that is recognized by the reader.

One parent spoke the concerns of many who felt "no child in the United States be tagged or tracked." And the area reporter for the Sacramento Bee who covered the story had it right when she wrote, "Monitoring people is a lot different in many people's minds than tracking packages and produce. Add in children, and it's risky territory."

But Brittain is not the first school in the country to use RFID technology to monitor students. The Spring Independent School District near Houston recently gave 28,000 students RFID badges to record when students get on and off school buses. That information is then monitored by the police and school administrators to prevent child abductions and truancy. And a handful of other schools have tested similar projects.

Sacramento Bee February 10, 2005

Wired News February 10, 2005

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