Track to School

September 7, 2012

Rheanna Sand

It's back to school time for the kiddies! For some, this means excitedly getting notebooks and coloured pens organized, and for others, it means finding new and creative ways to ditch class. Personally, I was more in the former category but definitely had my moments in the latter (grade 10 english…SNOOZE!).

But cutting class may not be so cut and dry anymore, at least, in some districts. When classes started last Monday, students in the Northside Independent School District of San Antonio officially became trackable. Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags have been embedded in their student ID badges, wirelessly transmitting an electromagnetic signal to various readers throughout the school.



Counter-intuitively, in this case the tags actually allow MORE kids to be counted as "present" than are actually in class. This is because, for now, they only indicate whether students are in the building, not necessarily in their desks. This was the whole point, though: funding is tied to attendance, so the schools wanted to prove that students were "there" even if they weren't in class. But it's not hard to imagine a near future where desks are equipped with readers, further invading the privacy of young people in the name of efficiency or safety.


RFIDs also makes a great side dish.

There's no stopping it. The use of RFID is growing exponentially, with varying degrees of privacy invasion. For example, a recent RFID-based invention prevents cell phone use when driving by jamming only the driver's phone signal when the car is moving. By 2013, JC Penney plans to use only RFID-based tags on their merchandise, allowing them to ditch traditional scanners and save millions. But my favorite is the haunted house that gives you a personalized terrifying experience based on a RFID tag you carry with you.

So what's scarier, seeing your own name on a gravestone, or being tracked every minute of every day? You be the judge.



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