Does Your School Need to Know Where Your Are 24/7 ?
By Devese Ursery of the Forum
“Big Brother” is now trying to make his way into the American School system. Educational institutions from elementary schools all the way up to the university level are implementing technologies and devices on student IDs in order to track a students every move. Scanners, smart chips, magnetic strips, and other types of proximity technology are being placed in student IDs. In most cases the student doesn’t even know. Not only is keeping a tab on someone without their knowledge or permission creepy and an invasion of privacy, but it is also against the law. Schools on all levels have tried to explain why this technology is a good idea.
One of the main objectives for schools is the security and safety of the students. The key to creating a safe campus is controlling who are in the campus buildings. Educational institutions and the companies that manufacture the proximity technology claim that the IDs will make for a safer campus. These type of IDs control access to certain areas on campus, such as computer labs, dorms, as well as athletic facilities. Scanner IDs can also be used for food service applications in the cafeteria as well as purchasing books and bookstore account management on campus. The student ID card is also being used as an efficient method of payment, both for students receiving refunds or scholarships from college and students using it like a debit card to purchase merchandise. Using a magnetic name badge or smart chip allows schools to use university student identification cards as stored-value debit cards for campus food service, the university bookstore, parking, campus laundry facilities and other on-campus venues which utilize retail ID card technology.
Beginning August 27, 2012, two schools in San Antonio, Texas, Jay High School and Jones Middle School are planning to monitor over 4,000 students using RFID (radio frequency identification) microchipped identification cards. RFID is a controversial technology that uses tiny microchips to track items from a distance. The school’s reasoning to implement RFID tracking technologies are outlined as goals to increase safety and attendance. This “Orwellian” solution is to be used to deter habitual truant children from skipping school. “It allows them to get caught easier,” said Maryland Delegate Doyle Niemann (D-Prince George’s), who recently co-sponsored legislation in the house that would use electronic surveillance as part of a broader truancy reduction plan. The truancy effort is called a “pilot program,” a first-of-its-kind experiment that will cost $400, 000 to keep track of about 660 students a year.
Although there are many advantages to this technology, there are also disadvantages, as well. All throughout history, the advancement in technology has been used to move society forward and during that time it has always been someone smart enough to molest that technology and use it for selfish and malicious reasons. A major issue with these types of IDs is security. Tech savvy criminals can steal a person’s identity and wipe out their entire bank account with one swipe. These new type of IDs might be beneficial, but they are also very expensive. Physical damage, such as scratches to the magnetic strip, or where the barcode is situated could cause the ID card to be unreadable. Circumstances like unusual changes in electrical voltage, extreme heat or exposure to strong UV rays can likewise erase or change information from smart cards.
As technology proceeds to advance at an alarming rate there will continue to be advantages and disadvantages. Whose responsibility is it to regulate and be the gatekeeper of technology that is growing faster and becoming more complex?