#Surveillance State School -- Students Safeguarded or Would George Orwell Frown?

posted Jan 11, 2013, 3:15 AM by Peter Joseph Moons   [ updated Jan 11, 2013, 3:17 AM ]
Texas school can force teenager to wear locator chip: judge - Reuters.  

Comments by Peter Joseph Moons.  

Control scored another victory when a US District judge determined a student in the San Antonio Northside School District could be expelled for not wearing an Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag while at school.  While the student's case progresses through federal courts, the judge ruled the school can expel the student for refusal to follow school regulations -- not wearing the required RFID tag.  An example of an RFID tag appears below.

Analysis:  There is value in knowing where students are while on school grounds, but the student, the parents, and support from the ACLU and Rutherford Institute opened up a new avenue in such tracking because they have pushed back.  While students might be inclined to say that they should be able to wherever they want to while on school grounds, the counter-argument is that School Districts are mandated by state law to teach a specific curriculum for certain number of days per year, and this requires order, not chaos.  Thus, schools must ensure students are in the right place at the right time.  If the RFID system is refined enough, a monitoring system could tell school administrators exactly where students are supposed to be at specific times of the day: call them "green dots;" students who are not in the right place at the right time show up in the system as "red dots."  The red ones could then be labeled as "recognized absence," "at appointment," "absent," or some other category.  Taken one step further, imagine if students were required to attend a certain number of sports games, pep rallies, or other mandatory activities throughout the year.  An RFID system could easily catalog attendance...and report non-compliance.  Interestingly, to prevent unauthorized access to a facility or school, there RFID tag would have to be linked to entry through an access portal by allowing a gate or door to open.  However, the right tag on the wrong person would still allow access, so some other biometrics would need to be connected to this type of access system.

In terms of control, monitoring, and accountability, the RFID system saves labor, increases transparency in the school's logging activity, and can aid in metric analysis.  For example, absenteeism can be matched against days students have tests or projects due; at that point, teachers and administrators can engage to alleviate issues.  Eventually, the system will acquire enough data to allow predictive analysis.  "Students" can just as easily be replaced with "employees" or "citizens."

Since the requirement for wearing RFID tags at the two schools in San Antonio, Texas, is mandatory, and a student can be expelled for non-compliance, the control grade (shown below) goes to the maximum.  Likewise as the technology evolves, the data from the RFID system offers a government, company, or organization a convenient, quiet method of tracking students, employees, and citizens.  Imagine if the RFID tags were synchronized with the other surveillance devices, like facial recognition cameras, audio recognition for voices, and CCTV systems.  Such an implementation of linked systems would allow for overlap of surveillance, and thereby increase the percentage that the RFID tag is on the right person, and that person is being tracked adequately.

Current Control Grade: 10. Freedom Grade: 1