Texas high school student withdrawn after RFID protest
By Brent Daggett
Contributing writer for End the Lie
Texas sophomore, Andrea Hernandez, has been involuntary withdrawn from John Jay High School due to her refusal to participate in the district’s Smart ID program.
Note: be sure to check out Brent’s previous articles: “Rewrite of Senate bill could let feds spy on e-mail without obtaining a search warrant” and “Secession petitions in full swing in all 50 states after presidential election“
Effective November 26, Hernandez will have to attend William Howard Taft High School unless she complies with her former school’s wishes to wear a RFID badge. See the letter she was sent below:
The Smart ID Program, started in September, requires students attending Jay High School and Jones Middle School to wear a badge containing a photo of themselves, their name and a barcode with an RFID locator chip to determine their location anywhere on campus.
On the school’s website, they state it will help with student safety.
I believe this is an erroneous statement since the real motivation seems to be that the district will gain around 2 million dollars if attendance increases.
One of Andrea and her family’s objections to the technology is that the chip goes against their Christian faith, since it may tie into the Mark of the Beast prophesied in the Revelation.
Revelations 13:16-18 reads, “16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or[a] the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.” (New King James Version)
Instead of going into every single piece of information involved in the story, watch these videos that appear on YouTube: Texas Students Treated Like Cattle with Mandatory RFID Tags as well as Christian Family Refuses Mandatory RFID Chip at Texas School.
So far the good news is that the Rutherford Institute, who will be representing Andrea, was able to get a district court judge in Bexar County, Texas, to grant a temporary restraining order to prevent the North Side School District from removing Andrea.
“The court’s willingness to grant a temporary restraining order is a good first step, but there is still a long way to go—not just in this case, but dealing with the mindset, in general, that everyone needs to be monitored and controlled,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute.
“Regimes in the past have always started with the schools, where they develop a compliant citizenry. These ‘Student Locator’ programs are ultimately aimed at getting students used to living in a total surveillance state where there will be no privacy, and wherever you go and whatever you text or email will be watched by the government.”
While the school district is trying to paint a picturesque image of the Smart ID program’s sophistication, there are over 40 civil liberties and privacy organizations that object to its use.
On August 21, 2012, Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN), Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and Privacy Rights Clearinghouse released a Position Paper on the Use of RFID in Schools addressing the concerns of a 2003 Position Statement on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products.
Part of that document states the following dangers:
- Dehumanizing uses: While there is an expectation of supervision and guidance in schools, monitoring the detailed behaviors of individuals can be demeaning. For example, RFID reading devices in school restrooms could monitor how long a student or teacher spends in a bathroom stall.
- Violation of free speech and association. RFID tracking software can monitor associations of RFID tags, which could dissuade individuals from exercising their rights to freedom of thought, speech and association. For example, students might avoid seeking counsel when they know their RFID tags will document their presence at locations like counselor and School Resource Officer (SRO) offices.
- Violation of conscience and religious freedom. Many individuals object to RFID systems on the basis of their deeply held philosophical or religious beliefs. Schools are required to make accommodations for students on the basis of these beliefs.
- Unauthorized use. While RFID systems may be developed for use in a school, the RFID tags may be read covertly anywhere by anyone with the right reading device. Since RFID reading devices work by silent, invisible radio waves and the reading devices can be hidden, unauthorized or covert uses can be nearly impossible to detect. In addition, information collected on systems could be shared or compromised without individuals’ knowledge or consent. For example, a student’s location could be monitored from a distance by a jealous girlfriend or boyfriend, stalker, or pedophile. Individuals run this tracking risk any place they carry or wear a school-issued RFID tagged item—even miles from the campus.
It’s also pertinent to mention the likelihood of health effects as stated by the report.
- Potential health risks. RFID systems emit electronic radiation, and there are lingering questions about whether human health might be affected in environments where the reading devices are pervasive. This concern and the dehumanizing effects of ubiquitous surveillance may place additional stress on students, parents, and teachers.
While the debate on RFID technology, especially in the avenues of tracking or chipping humans (read my first article on RFID technology) is not going away, let’s hope more individuals stand up to the abuses of the technology and let’s also hope that pilot programs of this magnitude are found unconstitutional on the grounds of the First and Fourth Amendments.
“We don’t think kids in schools should be treated like cattle,” Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said in a telephone interview [as reported by Wired Magazine]. “We generally don’t like it. My take on RFID is it’s fine for products, but not so much for people. That’s one of the places where the lines need to be drawn.”
Edited by End the Lie
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