“The 1200 Cougars at Jones Middle School are about to get tagged” - KENS5 news

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Two schools in San Antonio Texas have started requiring their students to wear name tags with embedded RFID sensor. This tags serve as access cards, allow them to buy lunch and checkout books but mostly are used to track their location throughout campus and on busses.

For the purpose of 202 in the news I think it’s best to ignore the privacy implications and dehumanizing effect of tracking students like cattle, but the system’s origins raise some important points. 

Unlike cattle, which are unaware of the tracking, students will be extremely self-aware that the tag is constantly reporting its location and might change their behaviors base on it.  With the knowledge that their locations is always know, students might avoid certain activities, people, or areas that they are embarrassed to be recorded with. The Position Paper by the ACLU, EFF and many others, mentions bathroom timing and counseling as examples.

The tag is also not clipped to the student’s ears (yet) and is completely removable. Therefor the resources the schools are actually tracking are not the students but rather the tags, which just have a serial number related to a child. Assuming the tag and the student’s locations will always be the same seem like a very dangerous proposition. Instead of teachers looking out for missing students, they might just rely on the tags. The tag could claim someone is present, but really the student is missing. Also they are completely unencrypted, which according to Wired, makes them readable by anyone and easy to copy. This makes spoofed tags trivial and could result in having the same student in several places.