By Hwaa Irfan
Katie Deolloz, a member of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, CASPIAN told WND that parents and students from San Antonio’s Northside Independent School District (NISD), Texas confronted the school board on 31st August, 2012 about their concerns over privacy and other related issues. The privacy pertains to the implementation of RFID chips – spy chips, that students and staff are now oblidged to wear on their schools clothes.
This is not a simple parent-student reaction, but a carefully thought out response to the use of RFIDs. A Position Statement dated August 21, 2012 was presented by CASPIAN which lists the endorsers as:
– American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
– Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
– FoeBuD e.V., Big Brother Awards Germany
– Big Brother Watch
– Citizens’Council for Health Freedom
– Constitutional Alliance
– Freedom Force International
– Friends of Privacy USA
– The Identity Project
– OK-SAFE, Inc.
– Private Citizen, Inc.
– Beat the Chip
– We the People Will Not Be Chipped
– 511 Campaign
– Edward Hasbrouck Author, Privacy Expert
– Katina Michael, Ph.D., Implant Expert
– MG Michael, Ph.D., Implant Researcher
– Judith McGeary, Liberty Activist
– Virginia Rezmiersky, Ph.D.
– Claire Wolfe; Author, Freedom Advocate
CASPIAN’s Position Statement serves to educate the school board on the nature of RFID technology
“RF” stands for “radio frequency.” Like the radio waves that transmit sound to an AM radio, RFID radio waves can travel through walls and doors. “ID” stands for “identification,” since RFID is designed to identify, track, and monitor physical objects.
RFID systems have two main components:
– RFID tags and
– RFID readers
The Statement educative process also informs how RFIDs can be used to:
“…trigger additional monitoring devices, like video cameras and audio recording systems. For example, a central database could be instructed to trigger a recorder when select RFID tags are identified in a specified location. This can make more in-depth tracking and monitoring of selected objects and individuals possible.
The Position Statement justifiably argues:
RFID tracking violates expectations of reasonable privacy and threatens civil liberties in our schools:
- Dehumanizing uses: While there is an expectation of supervision and guidance in schools, monitoring the detailed behaviors of individuals can be demeaning. For example, RFID reading devices in school restrooms could monitor how long a student or teacher spends in a bathroom stall.
- Violation of free speech and association. RFID tracking software can monitor associations of RFID tags, which could dissuade individuals from exercising their rights to freedom of thought, speech and association. For example, students might avoid seeking counsel when they know their RFID tags will document their presence at locations like counselor and School Resource Officer (SRO) offices.
- Violation of conscience and religious freedom. Many individuals object to RFID systems on the basis of their deeply held philosophical or religious beliefs. Schools are required to make accommodations for students on the basis of these beliefs.
- Unauthorized use. While RFID systems may be developed for use in a school, the RFID tags may be read covertly anywhere by anyone with the right reading device. Since RFID reading devices work by silent, invisible radio waves and the reading devices can be hidden, unauthorized or covert uses can be nearly impossible to detect. In addition, information collected on systems could be shared or compromised without individuals’ knowledge or consent. For example, a student’s location could be monitored from a distance by a jealous girlfriend or boyfriend, stalker, or pedophile. Individuals run this tracking risk any place they carry or wear a school-issued RFID tagged item—even miles from the campus.
- Hidden placement of tags. RFID tags can be embedded into/onto objects like books and documents without the knowledge of the individual who obtains those items. As radio waves travel easily and silently through fabric, plastic, and other materials, it is possible to read RFID tags sewn into clothing or affixed to objects contained in purses, shopping bags, suitcases, and more. Monitoring tagged items could amount to unreasonable search.
- Hidden readers. Tags can be read from a distance, not restricted to line of sight, by readers that can be incorporated invisibly into nearly any environment where human beings or items congregate. RFID readers have already been experimentally embedded in bathroom fixtures, floor tiles, woven into carpeting and floor mats, hidden in doorways, and seamlessly incorporated into shelving and counters, making it virtually impossible for someone to know when or if he or she was being “scanned.”
- Dangerous misinformation. Relying on RFID for security rather than human observation creates new security risks. Hacking, spoofing and metal can easily defeat these systems. Wrapping an RFID tag in tinfoil or putting it in one of the latest metal wallets can make it unreadable. Hacking, spoofing, and tag loss are also risks. For example, a student could be counted as present on campus by virtue of his or her RFID identity tag, but be miles away before his or her disappearance were noticed. It would be possible for a kidnapper to abduct a student and the system to be unaware if a student’s RFID tag were left on campus. In another example, a student could frame another student by placing a copy of another student’s tag in the vicinity of a campus crime. RFID security experts have demonstrated that RFID tags can be cloned within seconds.
- Potential health risks. RFID systems emit electromagnetic radiation, and there are lingering questions about whether human health might be affected in environments where the reading devices are pervasive. This concern and the dehumanizing effects of ubiquitous surveillance may place additional stress on students, parents, and teachers.
- Conditioning to tracking and monitoring. Young people learn about the world and prepare for their futures while in school. Tracking and monitoring them in their development may condition them to accept constant monitoring and tracking of their whereabouts and behaviors. This could usher in a society that accepts this kind of treatment as routine rather than an encroachment of privacy and civil liberties.
The Position Statement lists a set of recommendations, some of which are contradictory, conditions, and concludes:
“Because of the serious privacy, health, and logistical downsides of RFID in schools, we believe there should be a moratorium on its deployment unless there is sufficient evidence of its safety and effectiveness. Children should never be used as test subjects for technology, no matter what their socio-economic status. If schools choose to move forward without complete information and are willing to accept the associated liability, they should have provisions in place to adhere to the principles of fair information practices and respect individuals’ rights to opt out based on their conscientious and religious objections to the technology.”
San Antonio NISD has yet to respond, which is not surprising if one adopts a practice without thinking it through! We all do it at some time or another.
The school board approved the spy system in May 2012, and their decision was made known through Spychips, a website run by RFID experts Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre, which also informs of the technology being implemented in Brazilian schools with the best of intentions, to improve safety and security, without fully realizing the wider implications- applications. However teo school districts in Texas, Spring, and Santa Fe have been using RFIDs for years, which has helped to earn them financial incentives on the basis of improved school attendence, but that is just like dangling a carrot to ensure the system in implemented, and met with unsuspecting parental approval.
Protests have been taking place in front of San Antonio, but there is another storm in the making, the issue of enforced vaccinations. All schools in the NISD schools in the district have a “No Shots, No School Policy.” Texas has made it law, and that law envolves a list of the following molatov cocktail of vaccinations:
- Hepatitis Type A
- Type B
- Varicella (Chicken Pox)
- Pneumococcal (PCV7)
- Menactra (Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine)
Parents can seek exemption on the basis of “significant health risk”, and reasons of conscience including religious beliefs, which is a chance for parents to become more fully informed. Backed with a solid case, parents can contact Texas Department of Health at (800) 252-9152. It might be worth finding out what the actual process is, and loopholes before embarking on a process that might make it difficult to obtain exemption!
That reality was confronted in October 2012 wth what will be implemented in 112 schools across the country. Students who refuse to don the tags, are being harassed by teachers, and prevented from participating in certain school activities including school elections, the use of the cafeteria, and the library.
The girl’s father, Steve Hernandez, told WND that the school was somewhat willing to work with his daughter, but said that the family is unwilling to “agree to stop criticizing the program” and publically endorse it.
Heather Fazio of Texans for Accountable Government filed a Freedom of Information Act request for $30 and received the names and addresses of every student in the school district.
“Using this information along with an RFID reader means a predator could use this information to determine if the student is at home and then track them wherever they go. These chips are always broadcasting so anyone with a reader can track them anywhere,” she said
That predator could be the government itself!
CASPIAN “Position Paper on the Use of RFID in Schools August 21, 2012.” http://www.spychips.com/school/RFIDSchoolPositionPaper.pdf
“Texas Schools Punish Students Who Refuse to be Tracked with Microchips.” http://rt.com/usa/news/texas-school-id-hernandez-033/
Unruh, B. “Rebellion Erupts Over School’s Student-Chipping Plan.” http://www.wnd.com/2012/08/rebellion-erupts-over-schools-student-chipping-plan/
Vara-Orta, F. “Students will be tracked via chips in IDs.” http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/education/article/Students-will-be-tracked-via-chips-in-IDs-3584339.php#ixzz1vsssNfl7