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Student Suspended for Refusing School-Issued RFID Tracker

RFID tracking school Education 2012

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#1 Orpheus


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Posted 22 November 2012 - 05:12 PM

Student Suspended for Refusing to Wear a School-Issued RFID Tracker

I generally oppose tracking, but this case has a few twists that struck me. First the student's objections are religious, not privacy-related. She believes RFID tracking is related to the Number of the Beast in Revelation 13:16-18 -- as do a substantial number of other Christians.

The school apparently felt a satisfactory compromise was to let her wear a badge with a barcode (and the father seemed sympathetic with this, until they tacked on conditions forbidding him from criticize the school), but it seems to me that, if anything, the barcode [which translates to a number] would be more like the mark and number. The Bible doesn't even hint at RFID [which may or may not be translated to a number or alphanumeric code]

RFID is a terrible way to take roll. Another student could carry the card of an absentee along with their own. I suspect the school knows this but doesn't care, as long as they get their finding credit for that kid for that day. I don't begrudge them proper funding, but they seem to have completely lost track of the reason for the rule: kids who aren't in an actual class (not just somewhere on campus) during some part of the day aren't being taught.

The Biblical passage in question, BTW is (in the King James Version):
Revelation 13:
16 And he causeth all, both small and great , rich and poor , free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand , or in their foreheads:
17 And that no man might buy or sell , save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

#2 Nikcara


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Posted 22 November 2012 - 10:46 PM

While I'm not a huge fan of the RFID badges on personal privacy grounds, I did have to wear one for the last job I worked.  In fact, it's pretty common to have to wear them for a job.  What is she going to do then, refuse employment anywhere that uses them?  

It's funny, I've heard the claim that schools requiring the RFID badges is somehow a sign of the end times/mark of the beast before, but I've never heard complaints about adults having to wear the same things.  Does that mean Satan suddenly stops caring after you turn 18?
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#3 Orpheus


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Posted 23 November 2012 - 12:06 AM

It's a new technology. The workplace requirement may well not exist, or even be deemed unlawfully intrusive by the time she works. MANY one-time "workplace requirements" have been, though they seemed initially sensible or harmless to many. Clearly she feels it SHOULD be unacceptable and is actively working, through her refusal, toward that end. This is commendably civic minded. I like to keep that in mind even for stances with which I don't agree.

I consider RFID passports a TERRIBLE idea. They were hacked even before they were deployed. The system they forced was so inherently weak that the US, which forced RFID passports on many countries via treaty and foreign aid strings, did not meet its own international deadline for deployment. The extra time didn't help us secure it -- and can't.

Keep in mind that ANYONE can track you by your RFID tag. I can, personally: I built the gear from scratch in a couple of hours, to experiment on the risks myself, and could have done it with Radio Shack parts, had I wanted. This could make US citizens easily trackable, identifiable (and with RFID credit cards, fakable) both overseas and at home, by terrorists, stalkers and criminals. The risk isn't even limited to documents. You can be tracked by [e.g.] a store's RFID stock tracking tag on your favorite cereal.

#4 Cheile


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Posted 23 November 2012 - 03:49 AM

i don't buy the religious excuse, but i think the RFID tracking system is stupid in schools for some of the reasons you mentioned, Orph.  it's too easy for a truant kid to have a friend carry theirs around--or ditch it in their locker or something.

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#5 Tricia


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Posted 23 November 2012 - 05:57 AM

I'd much rather that the school do the old-fashioned roll call than to use RFID badges.

Especially for the reason Orph mentioned. I'd rather they make sure they see my child's face and be absolutely sure that they are present than to trust the RFID.

Not that the old fashioned way is perfect in any measure as our local school district calls you if the child is marked absent for any reason...as in they were counted absent for one or more class periods or the teacher made a mistake.

And it's not a person but like a robocall thing.  So if you get that call and you know your child is at school, you have to call the school back to make sure of what happened. Which I doubt the office staff like as they have to verify why and what happened for me and make sure that my child is there for sure.  Once an attendance slip was not turned in and logged into the computer for an entire class and they had about 20 parents calling.

(with mine it usually turns out that a mistake was made...the child was late for class because of some other class/school thing.  But the slight panic that I feel those few times that happens...not a good thing :unsure:)

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#6 Mikoto


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Posted 23 November 2012 - 07:23 AM

Hmph. My RFID would have quick zap in the microwave.
Rejected and gone.

#7 Thia The Muse

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 07:52 AM

I'm kinda with Orph on this, Why is the bar-code ok, but not the tag? The bar-code is pretty much a mark that is a number! Or what about Social Security Numbers? I've never heard anyone cry foul on that. I'm sorry, but I don't think she has a religious leg to stand on here.
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#8 Orpheus


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Posted 23 November 2012 - 12:50 PM

Actually, the US SSN was widely cited as such a mark by religionists, as well as a dangerous mandatory "papers please" National ID by secularists (as then seen in Nazi Germany, the USSR, etc.) In fact the law establishing the SSN explicitly said the government could not use it for anything but SS. Later, the private sector began using it for everything, which led to a slippery slope to ignoring that law.

When I first got my driver's license, I refused to give them my SSN, citing that law, and the way they looked at me, you'd think I'd grown a third head, even though the RMV had a [quite common] procedure in place (most commonly used for the tens of thousands of foreign students who didn't have a SSN). In the mid 90s, Simpson Garfinkel, a budding Sci/Tech journalist out of MIT, said that fewer than 12 American citizens in Massachusetts had ever refused to use their SSN on their license.

I did it just because I was a stupidly idealistic kid , but it caused me endless paperwork issues, computer record screwups, etc., in and out of the Mass RMV, in the 80s/d0s, until Mass was forced to abandon the SSN (not due to any effort on my part, but because activists were able to point to the identity theft risk of using the SSN. Once all states used it for drivers licenses, now none do)

#9 Mark

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 02:02 PM

Mark:  Thia, I think if she stands her ground on anything, it may be personal privacy, and of course, the possibilities of inaccuracy (by not facially identifying persons), and the inherent security problems with the RFID tags. I mean bad people had already figured out a way to take advantage of RFID by the time Mobil, Exxon, etc...implemented their RFID systems in conjunction with the credit card companies, to help their customers pay for products in an easier way. When I got my RFID (years ago), there were warnings on the instructions that specified the user what and what not to do with RFID  transmitters to help keep others from getting your code, and therefore your money.
Now (w/ my current knowledge), crooks have totally and successfully scammed the RFID systems to a degree where most people who care about the security of their money will not use them. All theirs have to do is get within transmitting proximity of the RFID device, and they can read your code with a radio receiver and computer. After obtaining the code they may then make counterfeit RFID's. If they haven't improved the system since the last time I researched it, why should we trust it to identify our children at school, when we shouldn't even trust it with our money? Our kids should be more important than money, and therefore deserve at least equal security if not vastly superior security, right?

I think it would be "okay" to use the system for general campus security as long as they used other systems in conjunction (visual, fingerprint ID, etc...) to identify the students. However, I don't think it's "okay" to track the students on campus unless they're having some security problems we haven't been made aware of by the article listed above. Also, how the heck are the schools supposed to "to enhance their coffers" by using these badges? If schools are paid by the state on their average daily attendance, then how is "tracking" these students at school supposed to verify the attendance? I can understand identifying students entering or leaving the school with some form of ID (along with facial recognition).  How is "tracking" them while their already in school  going to help verify average daily attendance?
Teachers are supposed (if not required) to call role, and visually verify the student is in their seat when class begins. If this school district has teacher/student relations that have degraded to the extent that teachers aren't even aware of who is absent during their class, then there is something wrong that needs fixing there!

Back to the idea that this system is against her religion...if you read the quotes from the Bible that Orpheus posted, you can see the flaw in the student's logic that it's against her religion...assuming her religion is based on biblical teachings. She has received no mark in her forehead, or in her right hand. Unless the article isn't telling us everything the school district's currently using the devices for, there is nothing stated about her not being able to "buy and sell" things at school without her badge. Now, if they're using the badge to the extent of students not being able to get their school lunches without their badges identifying them, then the girl would have a valid argument.
Also, if I were a judge, I currently see no evidence that RFID badges are,  "the mark of the beast", or has anything to do with what the Bible is thought to be referring to.

Edited by Mark, 23 November 2012 - 02:21 PM.

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#10 offworlder


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Posted 23 November 2012 - 03:55 PM

when I had my ss number I believe I was the only kid to have one, me da got mine when I was ten, don't remember any friend having one til bout 17 ish (so all those students in the story even 15 have the ss number? for the badge to work and based upon ss then Every student has the ss ? - movin on- don't really see how to make the mark thing, religion thing, with the rf thing, she's extrapolating pretty broadly pretty wide there, being marked by someone not you, as in the coming 'prince' marked by satan, so she is marked by not herself but by the school, but hey that's a real stretch since the mark is totally different and done in a different way and for a different purpose and not right in your corporal, your skin, just hanging on a necklace, hey big stretch ;)
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#11 Orpheus


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Posted 23 November 2012 - 09:00 PM

Since 1986, the IRS has required parents/guardians to list an SSN for all children over age 5 who they claim as dependents on a tax return. That standard may have tightened since then, I don't know. In my family, we kids got ours when we got our passports, not long after we were born, ditto my kids.

#12 Tricia


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Posted 24 November 2012 - 08:52 AM

I didn't get my SSN until I was about 13 but  my kids got their SSN almost immediately after birth.  If I remember right, the application for SSN was made at the same time we filled out the birth certificate info. Kind of one stop do-it-all thing :)

The oldest was born in 1995 and not sure if that was just an Arizona thing or in every state.

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#13 Rhea


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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:50 AM

When I was a kid SSN's were not mandatory for kids - they weren't used for income tax purposes by parents, for instance. So I didn't get mine until I was 16 and got my first job and was inordinately proud of it, because at the time it seemed a very adult thing to do. ;)
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#14 Nonny


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Posted 25 November 2012 - 04:48 PM

View PostTricia, on 23 November 2012 - 05:57 AM, said:

So if you get that call and you know your child is at school, you have to call the school back to make sure of what happened.

When I lived in Orange County, some resourceful budding criminal listed my phone number for his mother, and how stupid were the folks running this school that the calls to me became more and more threatening as I patiently explained to them over and over and over that I was not this boy's mother, that I did not know this boy or his mother, and that I am not, in fact, anybody's mother.  What a bunch of morons!  Cuz of course a kid who skips school wouldn't lie about how to contact his mother to complain about him, oh no.    :sarcasm:
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#15 Tricia


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Posted 25 November 2012 - 07:33 PM

^^^I had an experience before the automated phone system  became popular with the school and they still used to call you themselves.

Kept getting messages left on my voice mail for the mother of a child in junior high.  Had kids in the school district but not at that level at the time.  I'd call them back and explain that they had the wrong number.  Several times. Even went to the phone book nd found that person's number.  I'm guessing bad handwriting or reversed numbers.

But the kicker?  The secretary who was answering the phone every time was my landlady at the time and promised to fix it in the files...every time.  And it took someone else answering the phones to get it done.

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Do not ask that your kids live up to your expectations.  Let your kids be who they are, and your expectations will be in breathless pursuit.

#16 Orpheus


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Posted 25 November 2012 - 10:49 PM

When I was a kid, my parents once misremembered the phone number we were assigned after a move. I know it was them, though they still claim it was me, because a) I remembered our last 4 digits as a significant historical date, but the correct digits spelled a much more personally relevant/memorable date, and b) I recited 'our number' in near-daily "why didn't you call"/"why didn't you pick me up" fight, and they never once corrected me.

Adding greatly to the confusion: whoever had that wrong number always said "okay, I'll be there" or whatever. I can imagine I sounded enough like their kid, given that they sounded enough like my parents, but I identified myself by name, per proper phone etiquette for a caller (back when there was such a thing), and I have an unusual name.

They've carried that as their primary phone # from house to house ever since. I think they're afraid to learn a new one

#17 Orpheus


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Posted 14 January 2013 - 04:44 PM

Andrea Hernandez lost the first stage of her court case (article offers more background than the original]
"Student Loses Lawsuit Challenging Texas School's RFID Tracking Program"

Meanwhile several techno-savvy sites are asking if the school district perjured itself to downplay the privacy/hacking issues
"Texas High School Student Loses Lawsuit Challenging RFID Tracking Requirement"

#18 Captain Jack

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 03:56 AM

So now we treat kids like cattle.

Edit: What the article fails to also say is that the student can also be tracked anywhere, not just on school campus. Don't think it could happen? Let's go back a few years when another school was secretly activating the built-in webcams on laptaps loaned to students to see what they were doing at home or wherever else they were at. I wouldn't put it past them to do something similar.

Edited by Captain Jack, 15 January 2013 - 04:01 AM.

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