Monthly Archives: March 2013

Student locators using ex-military 433MHz?

433MHz is the most used frequency on earth and is also the radio frequency used in John Jay High School, Texas, USA to track students on their premises.  The RFID tags worn emit a pulsed constant frequency and cannot be turned off by the students so effectively broadcast the student/tags whereabouts 24-7.  The tag works as an antenna and sensors around the school pick up the RFID (antenna) frequencies – this is an active RFID tag.  In fact sensors anywhere can pick up a tag’s radio frequencies.

433Mhz is ex-military – Savi, a company owned by Lockheed Martin, developed the 433MHz RFID technology (ISO18000-7 ratified in 2006) and have supplied homeland-security and port-related RFID security to the US military during the past decade.  According to the RFID Journal, “Savi RFID tags track assets in shipments throughout the world.  Its customers include the U.S. government, as well as NATO and other civil and defense agencies”.  Savi “has been the primary provider of active RFID solutions for the Department Of Defense, particularly in the agency’s In-Transit Visibility network, which monitors the movements of containers and products through the supply chain by means of 433 MHz active RFID tags, readers and software.”  and according to Mark Lieberman, the Automatic-Identification Technology (AIT) Program Manager at the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), “There was a time when Savi was the sole supplier of tags and infrastructure end items to DOD [Department of Defense].”

In January 2009 the US Department of Defense announced a $429 million RFID contract for DASH7 (ISO18000-7) devices, which was awarded to several companies.  From DASH7 Alliance wiki  “It was agreed that current self-certification of interoperability was insufficient [between the companies awarded the contract] and that a more formalized process for determining conformance with the ISO 18000-7 standard and interoperability across vendors was needed” – so Savi initialized the first meeting of DASH7 members in February 2009.  The DASH7 Alliance now has over 50 members including 7 universities and “offers such interoperability to standards bodies, Industry associations and related government entities in order to accelerate adoption and advance integration for the benefit of society.”  Benefiting society, of course… this technology did not benefit Andrea Hernandez when she chose not to use it and be tracked by a 433 RFID tag in school.  433MHz occupies the ISM (Industrial, Scientific and Medical) radio band, reserved internationally generally for unlicensed use, therefore free to use.  With this, 433 frequency now finds itself firmly embedded in public domestic society.

Is it wrong to say 433MHz is ex-military?  ‘Ex’ implying no longer used.  It is probably more accurate to say 433 is from the military.  There are presumably military sensors all around the US for their In-Transit Visibility Network and the same frequency is used increasingly for schools student location, credit cards, agricultural, biomedical, door (garage) openers and wireless alarm systems to name a few.

The features of 433MHz can be up to “range of up to 2 km, indoor location with 1 meter accuracy,”. Whether or not key fobs and student locator RFID have this 2 km range or that student RFID tags are being tracked by government sensors across the country, we need to bear in mind that this technology is invisible and a constant, subconscious interaction with wireless technology is happening when we use it.

The age of ubiquitous technologies is upon us.

When we have an item that ‘magically’ interacts with other pieces of technology maybe we need to start asking what it is we carry – and hopefully trust that we are being given the right answer.

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RFID – Schools must “consult fully with parents and pupils”

There is no law against tracking people in the UK however in order to do so the person who is being tracked must give Data Protection Acttheir consent for the tracking to be legal.

In the UK Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act 1988 (DPA) states that “Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully” .  One aspect of lawfully processing data is the area of consent, covered in Schedule 2 of the DPA.  The first point in Schedule 2 is that the Data Controller (the school) has to gain the consent of the Data Subject (the pupil) in order to process information about them. “The data subject has given his consent to the processing.”

Tracking children in education with a real time location system (RTLS) using RFID tags absolutely falls under this legislation.

An email received from the Department of Education states the following:

Thank you for your email of 1 January 2013 addressed to the Secretary of State, with enclosures, about the implications of the use of Radio Frequency Identification Technology.  I have been asked to reply. [Case Ref 2013/0000789]

As you will be aware, schools and colleges are Data Controllers in their own right, and as such, must comply with the data protection principles set out in the Data Protection Act 1998.  For example, the first data protection principle requires that personal data must be used fairly and lawfully and that one of the conditions in Schedule 2 to the Data Protection Act must be met.  These include: obtaining the consent of the data subject; compliance with legal obligations; performance of contractual obligations; and the processing being necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests of the data controller.  I understand from your email that you have also been in contact with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and I would suggest that the ICO would be the appropriate body for advising on the particular case you have pursued.

As with the introduction of parallel systems such as CCTV, this Department would look to schools and colleges to consult fully with parents and pupils before implementing this kind of technology.

UK Department of Education – tracking children in education with RFID:

“…schools and colleges to consult fully with parents and pupils before implementing this kind of [RFID] technology“.

RFID – “It’s going to make you sick.”

nav-logo-small-newAt the Texas House of Representatives House Bill 101 was heard yesterday, 19th March 2013.  The audio/video can be found here 2 hours 45 minute in.

From My San Antonio – Andrea Hernandez, one of the students that refused to carry the tracking RFID and was subsequently expelled from John Jay High School, ” told legislators Tuesday that she became ill because of radiation from the tags in other students’ IDs.
 “It’s like being in an X-ray machine for eight hours,” Andrea Hernandez said. “It’s going to make you sick.”” 

Incredibly the vendor of the active RFID 433MHz tags that the students wear, Michael Wade, stated that “said they [RFID tags] do not produce any radiation. – “None at all,” he said.”

…move along people, clearly nothing to see here then?

Michael Wade is uninformed.  Radio frequency is electromagnetic radiation.   The following is taken from this EU document “Is RFID safe in the workplace” and talks about the effects of RFID radiation.

Radio communications and microwave frequencies are known as radiofrequency, which fall within the kHz to GHz range.  In the case of RFID, the frequencies used are in the order of 145 kHz, 13.56 MHz, 800-900 MHz and 2.4 GHz.  There are two different kinds of electromagnetic radiation. Depending on their major effects, electromagnetic fields can be divided into ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation.  As radiofrequency photon energy up to 300 GHz is not high enough to break these bonds, these kinds of electromagnetic fields are known as Non-Ionizing fields. Fields with frequencies above this limit are known as Ionizing Electromagnetic Fields.  (433MHz tags used at John Jay)

Ionization is a process that breaks the atom-electron bond, thus creating molecules without sufficient electrons to achieve a neutral charge. This causes molecular changes that may produce biological damage, including changes in DNA.

Also this article from the World Health Organisation about mobile phone frequencies, 450 and 2700 MHz, operating near the 433MHz RFID tag frequency that John Jay High use.

Radio frequency radiation and health effects is too large a topic to be covered here in any depth but there is a mounting body of evidence to suggest that electromagnetic frequencies can have an effect on health – this is from radiation.  So statements from RFID vendors, that could be described as misleading and uninformed, need a little more research.  The health effects of active and passive RFID are known.   With good evidence to suggest radio frequencies can harm humans, here are just a handful of excellent websites dealing with this topic:

Contactless RFIDhttp://www.radiationresearch.org/
http://stopsmartmeters.org/
http://www.wifi-in-schools-australia.org/
http://wiredchild.org/

Unfortunately these frequencies are invisible and we have no knowledge of what we are accumatively exposed to.  Therefore eliminating one less potential health hazard from our lives by not wishing to carry an active RFID tag could considered a prudent action to take.

So though individuals may choose not to consent to using RFID due to personal, spiritual, privacy/civil liberties concerns, it may appear that there is no choice whether or not to participate in the electrosmog that comes from others use of, RFID, radio frequencies technologies.

Discussion from the Public Forum on Student Location RFID

USA, Texas – Over on the We Are Change Texas YouTube Channel is the public discussion from last Monday’s RFID Forum, run by Texans for Accountable Government with RFID privacy expert and activist Dr Katherine Albrecht speaking about the RFID Student Locator Pilot Programme run by the Northside Independent School District in two schools John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School.

The school’s superindent and board were invited to attend, as was the vendor.  The school board declined and the vendor unfortunately got sick at the last minute.  Dr Katherine Albrecht was interviewed on the Alex Jones Show and revealed the following – The Northside Independent School District’s attitude was that the RFID scheme was done, a done deal.  Dr Katherine Albrecht then attended a city council meeting later in the day, had her name on the list to speak at the meeting and got told, when at the meeting by the school board, that she would not be allowed to speak.  (A repeated behavior by the school board, previously shown at a meeting in September 2012, where parents had little or no right to comment on the RFID scheme.)

At these two US schools there are at least 4,200 students wearing RFID tags round their neck with a Radio Frequency pulsing every 45 seconds emitting up to 75 feet.  This frequency is at 433MHz, which is near/just about in the Amateur Radio Frequency and a frequency commonly used for remote keyless entry.  433Mhz is an unliscenced industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio band and a simple internet search for 433MHz antenna/receiver shows how available this technology is to buy.  (The UWB location RFID at a UK College recently using a Real Time Location System (RTLS) pulsed at a 1 second interval at 6.35-6.75 GHz on an ultra wideband Radio Frequency for up to 100 feet.)

Andrea Hernandez, a 15 year old John Jay High School student, refused to wear a RFID tag and also refused to wear a dummy tag and as a consequence was barred from her school.   A gutsy stand by Andrea and supporters, upholding up her personal principles, did not convince a court decision on the matter of her still attending John Jay High School without a RFID Locator Tag and sadly in Andrea’s instance, a refusal to participate in an RFID scheme resulted in discrimination against her schooling options.  However there are now three Bills introduced in Texas Legislature dealing with RFID tracking students “Where a schools district may allow voluntary use of RFID – Schools districts must provide an alternative identification” or even that “A school district may not require a student to use a RFID device or similar technology to identify the student, transmit information or track the location of the student

This recent public forum was opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns, discuss responsibilities, privacy and civil liberties of RFID location tracking, potential health issues of RFID and to keep the debate in an open, honest format.  Hopefully the prejudice that Andrea has experienced will not have to happen to another individual not wishing to participate in any location tracking device.

A shame that school representatives and the vendor could not attend.  I suspect their absence spoke louder than any discussion they may have brought to the forum.

Here is the first part of the debate.  The rest of the debate is on the We Are Change Texas YouTube Channel – thank you to them for sharing this.

Missouri bill proposes prohibiting RFID in schools

Missouri SB239USA –  Missouri Education Watchdog reported that Senator Ed Emery filed “a bill in Missouri that would not allow such practices as RFID tracking of students or Polar Go Fit bracelets for tracking information.”

The Bill SB239Prohibits school districts from requiring a student to use an identification device that uses radio frequency identification technology to transmit certain information’

This bill joins the other three current bills in Texas put forward prohibiting the use of RFID with children/students in US schools.