RFID Tracking in Student ID Cards

Track students by RFID on school campus
Photo credit: Flickr user wcn247

Students to be tracked on campus using RFID:

Northside Independent School District plans to track students next year on two of its campuses using technology implanted in their student identification cards in a trial that could eventually include all 112 of its schools and all of its nearly 100,000 students.

District officials said the Radio Frequency Identification System (RFID) tags would improve safety by allowing them to locate students — and count them more accurately at the beginning of the school day to help offset cuts in state funding, which is partly based on attendance.
Continue reading…

A few questions I’d like to bring up with this news story:
  • What’s to prevent one student from holding on to multiple ID cards?  From the school’s perspective, that’s basic data integrity 101.That’s not the main concern here in view of privacy and safety issues, but is it still worth using the technology for this purpose in light of its shortcomings?
  • What happens when a tech-savvy student or even campus intruder decides to use a an active RFID reader to monitor the activities of all RFID chips in range?

A spokesman for the school district is quoted:

“Parents expect that we always know where their children are, and this technology will help us do that.”

Ask yourself: Is this a true statement down the level of where a student is on campus? And if so, is that a fair expectation from parents? Is it beneficial to both the healthy upbringing of the students and the sometimes overprotective habits of parents when given this option?

“Only authorized administrative officials will have access to the information.”

So who is going to set up the technology and fix it when it’s broken? Who is going to help the officials read the data, store the data on backup servers, and correct anomalies?

We need to look carefully at news stories like this one and consider what the trade-offs will be, where the technology is taking us, and what we may lose in the process.

Read the full story here.

FAQs on new Google privacy policy affecting search, YouTube, and Gmail

Privacy on GoogleIf you use Google products such as Gmail, search, or YouTube, you may be in for a surprise about how well Google knows you, now that their updated privacy policy goes into effect today, March 1st.

Hayley Tsukayama in The Washington Post:

“In a nutshell, Google is taking information from almost all of your Google services — including Gmail, Picasa, YouTube and search — and integrating the data so that they can learn more about you. Google Books, Google Wallet and Google Chrome will retain their own additional policies, partly for legal reasons, but Google could still integrate data from these services.”  Continue reading: Google announces privacy changes across products; users can’t opt out

Michael Liedtke, technology writer for AP puts it this way:

“If you’re amazed – and maybe even a little alarmed – about how much Google seems to know about you, brace yourself. Beginning Thursday, Google will operate under a streamlined privacy policy that enables the Internet’s most powerful company to dig even deeper into the lives of its more than 1 billion users. Google says the changes will make it easier for consumers to understand how it collects personal information, and allow the company to create more helpful and compelling services. Critics, including most of the country’s state attorneys general and a top regulator in Europe, argue that Google is trampling on people’s privacy rights in its relentless drive to sell more ads.” Continue reading: Google to dig deeper into users’ lives

The Washington Post put together a short list of frequently asked questions about Google’s new policy, including:

  • What kind of information are they collecting and integrating?
  • Can I opt-out?
  • So what do I do if I don’t like the policy?
  • What if I have account but am not signed in?
  • Why is Google doing this?
  • What about my iPhone / Android / Blackberry / Windows 8 phone?
  • I don’t have a Google Account, but use Google search. Am I affected?
    Continue reading: FAQ: Google’s new privacy policy

“There is no way a user can comprehend the implication of Google collecting across platforms for information about your health, political opinions and financial concerns.” -Jerry Chester, via The Washington Post