ID chips invasion of student privacy
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 12:10
Two San Antonio-based schools, John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School, are now implementing a controversial new procedure: RFID tracking of humans — in this case, students.
This radio-frequency identification tracking system, placed in the students’ ID cards, is mandatory and causing quite a bit of ruckus, and not without due reason. The school board has cited the reason for the tracking method as a deterrent to truancy, with both schools having rampant problems in that area. However, it is doubtful that its intentions are innocent, seeing as the schools could get an extra $2 million in state funding by turning around their poor attendance rates.
However, such a program not only is too extreme for such an issue, it poses several ethical concerns. One student’s father, Steven Hernandez, said the tracking chips are more of a spy chip than anything else. Personally, the chips wouldn’t bother me if the tracking system couldn’t be utilized while the students are off campus. That’s what really kills this for me. How would any of the students at UCF like it if not only our exact positions were tracked while on campus, but while we are in the surrounding community as well? We would always be under the watchful eye of the university, as well as any potential accessor of this data. More than anything, it causes a safety concern, especially given that many of the students with tracking chips are minors.
If deterrence of truancy is the main focus and the tailoring of this program, several other initiatives and means could be used to achieve the end goal. An elevated reward and punishment system could be in place. Students’ status in the institution could be based on attendance. Students who fall below a certain class attendance level could have their enrollment in the institutions suspended, and if the issue is severe enough, the option of expulsion could be explored. Using tracking chips, treating the students as a commodity as opposed to human beings, is both unfair and incredibly questionable.
I’m not the first person, nor will I be the last, to be opposed to this. North Dakota has outright banned forced implantation of RFID chips in humans, something not a far cry from what the San Antonio schools are doing with these mandatory chips.
It is a huge invasion of privacy, and frankly, the thought of it even being used makes me uncomfortable. Are we so quick to use technology to solve our problems that we just stick a tracking beacon on kids so we know where they are? The only time I’ve put a tracking chip on a living thing is when my family had one put in each of my dogs in the event that they run away. I don’t keep a little console telling me their exact locations. It’s only a worst-case scenario option.
It’s important to point out that RFID chips are in widespread use today, so this isn’t a new technology. Chips are used in ID badges at employment sites most commonly, and no safety concerns have arisen from this as of yet. There’s a difference between the chip being in the person’s body as opposed to an ID card, but as a whole, the fact that the institutions are tracking the students and have the capability to do so even off campus is worrisome.