It looks so harmless, doesn't it? A tiny little RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) chip. Its uses are only limited by the imagination, it seems.
Well, Middletown School District in Rhode Island has started a pilot program to monitor students by implanting these little chips in their schoolbags. The district is in partnership with MAP Information Technology Corp. and together they are going to tag 80 students. Two school busses will be outfitted readers for the chips and with GPS devices.
Parents and school officials could then log onto a school website to track the children, see if they are on the bus, when they had exited, and the bus's current location by the GPS information.
Since the pilot program didn't cost the school district anything, it never went through the Rhode Island Ethics Commission for approval.
Personally I find this very disturbing and for once I agree with the ACLU because they are upset about it, too. Is this necessary? NO. Can this be used in a negative way against the children? YES. Can bad people get access to RFID readers or the website and track these kids for evil intent? YES. Can some parents use this as an excuse to be even more lazy in their parenting? YES.
What if a child gets off the bus but leaves his book bag on there, or in his locker? Or kids get sneaky and take them out, put them in each others' bags, or switch bags? It's not foolproof. It provides no significant advantage, and many disadvantages.
I'm not saying that in some small way, it isn't good to know if your kid got off the school bus or not, or to know if you're child's bus is on time. Sure, this information can be helpful and practical for good parents to make their lives easier. But the potential for this to go bad is definitely there.
Not to mention the slippery slope of tagging children at all. What comes next? We all get tagged so someone can watch us and make sure we are where we say we're supposed to be? Actually embedding the tags in the children? Then in all of us? Read 1984 and you'll see why this is so disturbing. This is dangerous ground. It's just another right of freedom that is taken away in the name of implied safety.