Category Archives: Health

OBE for ‘RFID tagging’ ex college principal

Sara Mogel RFID taggin students

Sara Mogel OBE – was Principal at the first UK school, West Cheshire College, to use active RFID tags to track students on campus

Sara Mogel, ex principal of West Cheshire College.  The woman who thought it was a good idea to spend over £1million of taxpayers money on RFID tags to hang round students neck to track them in real time, gets an OBE for ‘for services to vocational education‘.

I think it is fair to say her contribution to UK education and the RFID industry is certainly unique, though whether it deserves an OBE is debatable.  She is responsible for the decision to hang microwave radio frequency devices around children’s necks in a ground breaking trial of ultra wideband RFID, tracking the children on campus every second.  The first instance of a school in the UK using RFID technology to track individual children’s every movements…  that was scrapped in February 2013 just before she left. (I wonder if the college got a £1,000,000 refund for this?)

No reporting in the local press.  No communication with parents.  The college had no idea of the specification of the RFID, worryingly therefore no information on the specific absorption rate (SAR) of the radio frequencies on the human body.  The health effects of radio frequencies (RF) on the human body are seemingly unquantifiable at present but as more research is done on this topic it is becoming more apparent that caution should be taken and prudencey exercised to limit our bodies to RF exposure.  The RFID journal themselves suggest distancing the human body 1 meter from a reader/antenna.

Let us sincerely hope that there will be no ill health effects from the students wearing RFID tags under Sara Mogel OBE’s watch at West Cheshire College and this does not come and bite her back in the future.

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RFID Journal – People should remain at least 1 meter (3.3 feet) from a RFID reader/antenna

RFID reader definitionThe RFID Journal is one of the world’s foremost sources of RFID news globally and has reported positively on the benfits of RFID tagging children and teachers in schools with active RFID.   On the 4th November 2013 this question was asked on their ‘Ask the Experts Forum’ – Are there any health risks with prolonged exposure to ultra high frequency (UHF) radio frequency (RF) fields?  

Interesting then when Mark Roberti, the Founder and Editor of the RFID Journal, then advises in his response that:

people should remain at least 1 meter (3.3 feet) from a reader.


Really.  How is it okay for the RFID Journal to report 
positively about schools tagging children and teachers wearing ultra high frequency (UHF) active RFID tags, effectively endorsing the wearing of active RFID chips, when they also comment on the very potential health hazards of radio frequencies?

RFID Active definitionIn the USA Northside Independant School District RFID tagged their student population with active 433MHz RFID tags from 2012 until 2013.  In Germany students and teachers wear active RFID tags compatible with wifi 2.45GHz, in the US the same tag is being worn by teachers.  West Cheshire College students in the UK wore ultra wideband (UWB) active RFID tags around their neck in a lanyard, emitting a 6.35-6.75GHz radio frequency every second, from 2010 until 2013.  West Cheshire College admitted to viewing students in “peer groups” with their RFID real time location system  – so not just for registration or safety reasons then?

Daniel Engels, “Director of the University of Texas at Arlington‘s Radio Frequency Innovation and Technology Center, and an associate professor in the college’s Department of Electrical Engineering” was quoted in a previous RFID Journal article from June 2009 entitled ‘Can RFID be harmful to the human body‘ stated that:

“The basic result of all of our work is that really close proximity to UHF [ultrahigh-frequency] RFID readers  [antennas] has potential health issues”

Should we be tagging children and teachers with active RFID when the  International Agency for Research on Cancer/World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as a possible carcinogen to humans, causing cancers and tumors?  Erm… I think that would be a no!

Maybe schools be prudent and ready themselves for possible litigation claims in the future…

RFID UHF definition   RFID Interrogater definition

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.

“Creepy technology” in US schools

An excellent article by AlterNet lists the ‘creepy technology’ used in American schools.  Maybe this is what the UK schools market has in store for our children.

SAN ANTONIO COPYING HOUSTON SCHOOL DISTRICT USING RFID –
San Antonio is taking its cue [tracking kids with RFID] from the Houston, TX, school district. It began using RFID chips to monitor students on 13 campuses in 2004. Houston’s Spring Independent School District gave 28,000 students RFID badges to record when they get on and off school buses. The police and school administrators provided the badges to ostensibly prevent truancy and child abductions.

GPS TRACKING FOR DELINQUENT KIDS –  In Anaheim (CA), about 75 seventh- and eighth-graders from Dale and South Junior High Schools are taking part in the pilot program. Students with four or more unexcused absences have “volunteered” to carry a handheld GPS device. Participation in the program will enable the students to avoid being prosecuted and a potential stay in juvenile hall.

Each school day, the delinquent students get an automated “wake-up” phone call reminding them that they need to get to school on time. In addition, five times a day they are required to enter a code that tracks their locations: as they leave for school, when they arrive at school, at lunchtime, when they leave school and at 8pm.

GPS LOCATOR IN BACKPACKS –

The Palos Heights School District in Illinois is attaching GPS locators to students’ backpacks in order to “locate kids in seconds” both in and out of school. The electronic reader registers date, time and location of kids. Administrators justify the tracking and surveillance of students outside of the classroom as for their safety.

“SCHOOLS SPY ON FAT KIDS” –
A very different monitoring effort is underway on Long Island, NY, in an effort to fight obesity.  Selected Bay Shore students designated overweight or obese are being equipped with a wristwatch-like devices that count heartbeats, detect motion and even track students’ sleeping habits. Similar programs are underway in schools in St. Louis, MO, and  South Orange, NJ.

RFID IN BASKETBALL JERSEYS –
In 2010, the Contra Costa County School District received a $50,000 grant to put RFID tags into basketball jerseys that students are supposed to wear while at school. The bulk of the grant went toward setting up sensors around the school to read the tags and computer systems to actually monitor where each student is.  The program tracks preschool children.

The above comes from the excellent article in AlterNet, link at the top of this post.

Of course on top of this biometrics are used in schools as well, raising privacy issues discussed n the American Schools and University Magazine and Anita Ramasastry writing on the Verdict website, Legal Analysis and Commentary from Justica.com, this article Biometrics in the School Lunch Line: Why Parents Should Be Concerned About the Privacy Implications of This Trend

Here in the UK biometric technology and privacy issues have recently been considered fully with the recent Protection of Freedoms Act passed in May 2012 detailing parental consent required when schools process a childs biometrics.  As of September 2013 schools in the UK using biometric systems need written parental consent for the child to participate in the system.  The school cannot discriminate against the child if they choose not to use biometrics and an alternative method must be found.

In a school of say 1500 pupils, the job of writing to both parents and obtaining written consent from one parent, for all students using a biometric system may prove cumbersome.

Perhaps the alternative GSP or RFID may be considered here in the UK.
Both RFID and GPS technologies are void in UK schools here at the moment.