Rhode Island School Pilots GPS, RFID on Busses
A plan to use
and RFID to track students on busses raises questions about using a technology on children that was originally designed to track products and cattle.
When Brittan Elementary School District in Sutter, California quietly kicked off a pilot program in 2005 that required its students to wear an identification badge implanted with an RFID chip, the program ignited a massive privacy debate that resulted, two years later, in anti-RFID legislation. Now a small school district in
The Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, in a Jan. 4 letter to Schools Superintendent Rosemarie Kraeger, criticized
The comparison hasn't gone unnoticed, particularly by the ACLU.
"RFID technology was originally developed to track products and cattle. The privacy and security implications with using this technology for tagging human beings, particularly children, are considerable. Concerns about the use of RFID chips for non-commercial tracking purposes have been raised not only by organizations like the ACLU, but also by a variety of government organizations, elected representatives and independent researchers who specialize in RFID technology," wrote Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island affiliate of the ACLU. "We note that when a similar program was introduced a few years ago in a
The pilot program in question at Aquidneck Elementary is
"This is a more accountable way to provide accurate data to parents with regard to transporting their kids," said Collins. "We're not forcing this down anyone's throat. [With respect to the
Collins said that the school district sent out letters to parents informing them of the
After the brouhaha in California at Brittan Elementary School District, state Sen. Joseph Simitian, a Democrat from Palo Alto, authored a bill introducing security and privacy measures around the use of RFID-;particularly in government ID documents that would include schools. While that bill was shot down by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year, another bill sponsored by Sen. Simitian has been enacted into law, and others are pending. In October 2007 it became illegal for
In the wake of the 2006 veto Senator Simitian took the next feasible step. He cleaved the Identity Information and Protection Act into smaller bits and shipped them off to the legislature as five separate bills. SB 362, the anti-forced human chipping bill, is the first of those smaller bills to see the light of day. It could have positive implications for the remaining four RFID bills trundling through California's legislative process -and serve as bell-weather legislation for other state's actions regarding RFID.
"RFID technology is not in and of itself the issue. RFID is a minor miracle, with all sorts of good uses," said Senator Simitian, in an Oct. 15 interview with eWEEK. "But we cannot and should not condone forced 'tagging' of humans. It's the ultimate invasion of privacy."