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Should We RFID 'Chip' Our Kids:?


Q. I'm as concerned about school safety as anyone. But some of the security measures in our brand-new school remind me of the scary book, Brave New World. Now there's talk about putting microchips under children's skin as a "safety" measure. Ew, ew, ewwwww! I don't like that idea right on its face. But is it a coming thing?


It may be, and that's a matter of concern for a lot of people. RFID chips are under consideration for school I.D. cards, identity badges, backpacks and even school uniforms as a way to take attendance, pay for lunch out of a debit account to reduce the chance of petty theft in school, reduce vandalism and school-skipping, and assure parents of student safety at all times.


But they are highly controversial. There are claims that microchip technology is intended to be implanted within the human body. There, the allegation contends, they can produce radio frequencies which in effect will produce widespread mind control or covert neurological communication systems. That raises all kinds of suspicions about the possible connection to the Biblically foretold "mark of the beast" that is prophesied to control the population in the future when the Antichrist supposedly reigns.


At any rate, the chips will be connected to computers that automatically track a person's location and record everything from your geographical location to your heart rate. It can easily be seen that this is a way to track who attends what political rally, and who has met with whom, which is not information which most people want their government or anybody else to easily obtain.


There also are concerns about malignant tumors being associated with a small percentage of the implanted chips.


But those are for the future. Right now, the issues include protecting children's security and privacy when the RFID - Radio Frequency Identification - chips are in place in backpacks, badges and buses, often combined with Global Positioning Satellite technology.


An early experiment with RFID chips in backpacks at Aquidneck School in Middletown, R.I., resulted in a firestorm of complaints from parents and the American Civil Liberties Union. While it is true that every school year, thousands of children accidentally get left on buses, or lost, around the country, concerns were that a pedophile armed with an RFID "reader" could track and target a vulnerable child just as easily as a school district or parent computer could.


It is also a concern that the RFID chips can hold all kinds of personal information that could lead to extreme cases of kidnapping, identity theft and other ills.


For these reasons, several states have banned forced RFID chip implantation by employers, and civil libertarians and privacy advocates are working against the imposition of the technology in schools.



Homework: Here's a comprehensive RFID position statement from the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.


By Susan Darst Williams Controversies 14 2008


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