Missouri bans tracking RFID in schools. In the first of its kind legislation, Missouri Senator Ed Emery‘s bill was passed last week. Ksn.com reports that “The bill will take effect in October after lawmakers overrode Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of the bill this past week, just barely getting the required two-thirds majority in both chambers.”
The bill, SB523, simply reads:
1. No school district shall require a student to use an identification device that uses radio frequency identification
technology, or similar technology, to identify the student, transmit information regarding the student, or monitor or track the location of the student.
2. For purposes of this section, “radio frequency identification technology” shall mean a wireless identification system that uses an electromagnetic radio frequency signal to transmit data without physical contact between a card, badge, or tag and another device.
Many schools in the USA track their students using active RFID which is a chip powered by a small battery and emits a regular pulsed radio frequency signal. Readers then pinpoint the location of chip, thereby identifying the child’s whereabouts. Wearing such a device is huge invasion of privacy of the children potentially being able to be seen in sensitive areas such as washrooms, school nurse, etc.
The technology is not without controversy. One student, Andrea Hernandez in San Antonio, refused to wear the chip on religious grounds and was excluded from her high school as a result. The somewhat extreme action by the school gained international exposure and support from privacy groups. After a year of running the RFID locator programme the scheme was scrapped.
The excellent ‘Position Paper on the Use of RFID in Schools‘ sets out the concerns with using this technology with children and heartening to see that Missouri have taken this on board and banned tracking RFID in schools.