Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Education Your Rights Online

Students In UK Tracked With RFID Chips 214

Posted by kdawson
from the sees-you-when-you're-sleeping dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ten kids in a pilot program in the Hungerhill School in Edenthorpe, England will participate in a program that puts RFID chips in students' uniforms to keep track of their whereabouts. A group called 'Leave Them Kids Alone' is opposing the program. Bruce Schneier blogs: '...Now it's easy to cut class; just ask someone to carry your shirt around the building while you're elsewhere.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Students In UK Tracked With RFID Chips

Comments Filter:
  • oops... (Score:4, Funny)

    by thekm (622569) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @09:54PM (#21262669)
    lost my shirt trying to make the first post...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Damn mods can't even RTFS (Summary) any more. I for one welcome our new shirtless-will-one-day-choose-my-retirement-home overlords.
  • Well (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moogied (1175879) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @09:55PM (#21262681)
    I think this is a very responsible use of "human monitoring". Its voluntary, its in there CLOTHES, and its only useful at school. Something like this I can understand. Now I did not RTFA, but I hope this is only used at exits/entrances to the school grounds. Just as a way of telling if they are there or not. Could be very useful in fire drills, bomb threaths, and lock downs. To tell who is at the school still, or left.
    • by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @10:00PM (#21262715) Homepage
      I think this is a very responsible use of "human monitoring". Its voluntary, its in there CLOTHES, and its only useful at school.

      Yeah, but when you start requiring specific clothes, all you're going to do is entice the teenagers to get naked. You don't want to have naked teenagers on your hands, do you? I know I would. I mean, wouldn't. Right.
    • Still though, whats the use of individual tracking seriously besides some "big brother" plot? Sure it would be useful but as with all technology some innovative hacker (I use this term with respect) will find a way to break it and make it useless for the intended purpose. Sure there is always human error, but human error is no match for human genius when they have motivation to go attack "the man"
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Seems to me it's part of a broad psy-ops venture on the part of the british government. Throw out enough new surveillance methods for "security" reasons, thus beating in to the minds of the population at large the implied message that everyone is a potential threat - to themselves or others. That's why you need surveillance, right? After a while, people will get used to it and will no longer question their government's need to know every detail of their lives. Hell, they'll welcome the daily scrutiny.
    • Useless idea.
      Kids would give their clothes to others to carry for them.
      Block the RFID if they wanted to go off the grid.
      Honestly, how long does it take for the regular teacher to run down the names of their students to see if they're there.

      If there was a fire, do you want to teachers to manually check each kid got out alive or just rely on a tag in a piece of clothing. A trapped kid's RFID signal may not reach sensors, a kid in gym class would have different clothes on, etc.
      • by Smidge204 (605297)
        Kids would give their clothes to others to carry for them.

        "Gee, these two students have been sticking together all day... and they don't even have all the same classes! Send someone to take a peek."

        Honestly, how long does it take for the regular teacher to run down the names of their students to see if they're there.

        That'll tell you where they AREN'T. The whole point is to know where they ARE, or at least were. Granted they could take the bugged article of clothing off, but if it's a shirt, pants, shoes or
        • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

          by lahvak (69490) on Wednesday November 07, 2007 @12:43AM (#21263747) Homepage Journal
          "Gee, these two students have been sticking together all day... and they don't even have all the same classes! Send someone to take a peek."

          If the students are that stupid, they deserve to be caught. But it greatly illustrates why a system like this is really bad idea. The last thing we want is for the school administrators and teachers to know which kids hang together all day:

          "Hey, you! Yes, you! I see you have been hanging a lot with that troublemaker Smith lately! I am warning you, you better stay away from him, or you are gotta get it!"

          That'll tell you where they AREN'T. The whole point is to know where they ARE,...

          No it isn't. Really pretty much all the teacher needs to know is that the kid is not in the class. So what is the kid is taking a smoke break in the bathroom? Or if he or she ran to the locker to get a homework they forgot? Or he decided to hang out with his girlfriend in that hidden spot in the school attic instead of going to the class? They are not in the class, when they show up, just ask them why were they missing. You don't need any stupid RFID chip for that. Of course, if a small kid comes to class late, with red cheeks, obviously has been crying, you notice and know something is up, and you act accordingly. I am afraid that with technology such as these chips, teachers will just say "we know where everybody is, we don't really need to pay attention to how they act, how they look like etc."

          The kids are supposed to learn how to be responsible, make their own decisions, and generally become members of the society. They cannot learn that while knowing they are under a constant surveillance with no way to escape.

          If the building is on fire and not everyone is accounted for, wouldn't having a general idea where they might be in the building count as a plus?

          That's pretty much the only legitimate use of the technology. I am quite worried about serious surveillance technologies being introduced "just in the case there is some emergency".
          • Well, Sir, I was drying my shirt in the microwave and now the tag doesn't seems to work. But I promise I'll stay in school....
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by SteveAyre (209812)
            "The kids are supposed to learn how to be responsible, make their own decisions, and generally become members of the society. They cannot learn that while knowing they are under a constant surveillance with no way to escape."

            Strange, with the amount of CCTV and data mining around lately that sounds like pretty good practice for when they become adult members of our current society.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CastrTroy (595695)
        Most teachers I had didn't even do a roll call. They just scanned down the list and checked for missing people, anybody they didn't see they would call out their name. It probably took them about 30 seconds.
      • by ArcherB (796902) *
        Useless idea.
        Kids would give their clothes to others to carry for them.
        Block the RFID if they wanted to go off the grid.
        Honestly, how long does it take for the regular teacher to run down the names of their students to see if they're there.

        If there was a fire, do you want to teachers to manually check each kid got out alive or just rely on a tag in a piece of clothing. A trapped kid's RFID signal may not reach sensors, a kid in gym class would have different clothes on, etc.


        You're right. Since it is not a
        • by Stooshie (993666)

          ... using that logic, I suggest you turn off your computer right away ...

          Our computers are not involved in life or death situations (at least mine's not) but kids in a burning building is life or death and if RFID tags do go wrong it could be curtains.

          Tags will be used by lazy teachers more interested in their next coffee breeak rather than the welfare of the children in their care. (A childs welfare involves a lot more than knowing where they are, and this system will be used as a replacement for car

          • by ArcherB (796902) *
            Our computers are not involved in life or death situations (at least mine's not) but kids in a burning building is life or death and if RFID tags do go wrong it could be curtains.


            I don't think you understand. A kid wearing a RFID tag that works even 50% of the time means that he stands a 50% better chance of being found than a kid with no tag at all. Why is that so hard to understand?


            Tags will be used by lazy teachers more interested in their next coffee breeak rather than the welfare of the children in t
            • by Stooshie (993666)

              ... A kid wearing a RFID tag that works even 50% of the time means that he stands a 50% better chance of being found than a kid with no tag at all ...

              Not if they have started relying on RFID tags and stopped taking roll calls. In that case all the children are 50% worse off (or 50% of the children are worse off, whichever).

              If they still have to take roll calls then what's the point in having the tags at all?

              • by ArcherB (796902) *
                Since you didn't read beyond my first point, let me quote myself:

                Not necessarily. This is a tool to aid, not replace. Do chalk boards keep teachers from talking? Do books keep teachers from teaching? Why would RFID tags make teachers stop seeing students?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Iftekhar25 (802052)

      I was involved with a start-up company in Singapore trying to sell RFID solutions to schools for tracking children.

      The school we were pitching to were interested at first, but didn't make the jump once they discovered it was "experimental." In hindsight, it was a good thing, because the start-up I was working for lacked the expertise to pull it off.

      But I agree with the parent; it's responsible so long as it's used within the school premises. Children aren't the same as adults, and otherwise draconian p

      • by lahvak (69490)
        This isn't a privacy issue, but on the contrary, an example of the application of technology to save many man-hours of tedious attendance-taking and embarrassingly mis-pronounced names.

        That's bullshit! If a teacher cannot take one look at the class and see who is missing, then you either have too large classes, of the teacher is totally incompetent, and I would not want to have him or her in charge of my kids!
      • by Eivind (15695)
        Repeated claims that something isn't a privacy issue doesn't make it not a privacy-issue.

        Children have a rigth to privacy too. Like for adults, the right isn't absolute, and theirs is invaded more often than that of adults, but that is not the same thing as saying it is zero.
    • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cassius Corodes (1084513) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @10:18PM (#21262855)
      Here is a radical concept. Stop treating children like animals and start treating them like human beings. Letting kids go off the "leash" is necessary for them to become responsible people. How can they learn to be trustworthy if they are never trusted in the first place?

      Not only that but you are essentially teaching children that there is nothing wrong with being tracked wherever you go - and that can only mean that they grow up to be people who will consent to draconian surveillance schemes because they are used to them.
      • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

        by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @10:29PM (#21262933) Journal
        Not only that but you are essentially teaching children that there is nothing wrong with being tracked wherever you go - and that can only mean that they grow up to be people who will consent to draconian surveillance schemes because they are used to them.

        Isn't that exactly what we want - a generation who think there is nothing wrong with being monitored? A generation so used to the idea of being watched, that they will start demanding it when it is absent?
      • by syousef (465911)
        Not only that but you are essentially teaching children that there is nothing wrong with being tracked wherever you go - and that can only mean that they grow up to be people who will consent to draconian surveillance schemes because they are used to them.

        I think that's the idea. (Though perhaps not the PARENT'S idea)
      • by delt0r (999393)
        You clearly have not meet any English school kids. Really.
        • by digitig (1056110)

          You clearly have not meet any English school kids. Really.
          I have two living in my house. Your point is?
      • by Eivind (15695)
        All with you. If my kids came home with RFIDs schoolstuffs I'd personally see to it that they get a nice long visit to the microwave. I dunno about other kids, but my kids are human beings, not animals, and I insist they be treated as such.
        • That's a bit harsh isn't it?
          putting your kid in the microwave?

          Ah well, to each his own I guess ;)
      • Using RFID for surveillance purpose... I think this is an opportunity for early-in-life training for the smart young adults on how to evade surveillance. As someone points out, RFID makes skipping classes ever easier: just ask a friend to bring your school uniform (or cut off the RFID from your clothes), and you don't have to be physically present. You can become invisible by dislodging your own RFID tag. You can do a lot of pranks using programmable RFID tags. You can steal a teacher's RFID code (without t

    • by cloricus (691063)
      Is it just me or wouldn't this allow bad people to track children as well?
      • by internewt (640704)

        Is it just me or wouldn't this allow bad people to track children as well?
        Yes, but its OK, the system will have a password. Teachers are well known to be fully technically competent people, and never would have the password written down on paper on a pull-out bit of desk.... I think the current one is PENCIL though ;)
    • by Colin Smith (2679)
      Give em a Nokia N95. Load up a jabber client which can post the encrypted GPS co-ordinates and IMEI number to those you trust. Someone nicks the phone, you know exactly where they are.
       
  • government logic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 (568564) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @09:57PM (#21262701) Homepage
    Ten kids in a pilot program in the Hungerhill School in Edenthorpe, England will participate in a program that puts RFID chips in students' uniforms to keep track of their whereabouts.

    Clearly, this measure is needed, as the government doesn't yet have enough cameras to track everyone individually.
    • RFID chips in uniforms are not particularly difficult to use for illegal activities. You can leave your uniform at a particular place, then use another one (that you bought yourself) to do whatever you want...or you can switch uniform's of kids to incriminate them.

      If this measure is extended to the rest of society, the problems will be huge.

      RFID on clothes is destined to fail. What will the governments of the world demand then? I know, and it's scary:

      IMPLANTS.

      It's unavoidable...
  • Zeitgeist (Score:2, Interesting)

    by amplusquem (995096)
    It's happening:

    http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/ [zeitgeistmovie.com]
  • No big deal (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)
    1) Kids still need to have a physical presence. If they are not in attendance, but their shirt seems to be walking around the school, then it is clear that they have deliberately tried to circumvent the requirement to be in school during school hours.

    2) RFID is only an identifier, not a tracker. For someone to actively track a kid, they'd still have to follow the tried and true method of skulking and bush-hiding and slow van driving.

    I made the comment earlier that SecurityFocus and Bruce Schneier were causi
    • Big deal (Score:3, Insightful)

      There's a huge difference between the government being able to subpoena your records and records of your movement (e.g. cellphone provider logs) and the government being able to have "always-on" monitoring of you at all times "just in case." Automated tracking via software elevates government snooping to whole new levels that would never be possible with simple "sight." It's not really fair to compare the two.

      Your other points are somewhat valid, but if you can't see that, I don't think you're qualified t
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by lahvak (69490)
      Kids still need to have a physical presence. If they are not in attendance, but their shirt seems to be walking around the school, then it is clear that they have deliberately tried to circumvent the requirement to be in school during school hours.

      No, it's clear that some bullies stole their shirt and tossed it around the school building all day, just to get them in trouble.

      Seriously, I am glad they didn't have this when I went to school. I mean, will somebody think about the kids who are tardy? No more s
    • by fredklein (532096)
      If they are not in attendance, but their shirt seems to be walking around the school,

      And how will you know that?

      If you can keep track of the students bodies, you don't need the RFID in their clothes. OTOH, if you cannot keep track of them, then you will not find out their RFID is present, but they are not.

      RFID is only an identifier, not a tracker.

      If there are enough sensors everywhere, it can be used to track. One at each doorway in school, now you know which room the kid is in. One in each quarter of the
      • by fractoid (1076465)

        As for tracking outside the school, that's just a matter of time. The schoolbus will have one at the door, so you'll know he got on/off the bus. In cities (where school kids use public transit), ALL public busses could have a sensor at the door. Bus stops, lamp posts, etc could all have sensors. 'For the safety of the children.'

        Then it's trivial to start tracking other RFIDs, not just the school kid's.

        This raises an interesting question to me - how many of our clothes/shoes/backpacks etc. already have RFID tags built into them? They're everywhere in the retail industry. It seems to me that you could build up an identifiable profile of a person from 3-5 consistent tags in items that they regularly wear. From that point of view, distributed RFID sensors linked to a database could be a very interesting privacy issue.

  • by istartedi (132515) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @10:08PM (#21262793) Journal

    But the record plainly shows he spent all day up inside the ceiling tiles. Off to search for the real perpetrator, cheery-o!

  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @10:09PM (#21262801) Homepage Journal
    Clothes fresh from the dryer feel wonderfully warm and cozy, but who has the time to wait for the dryer to warm up all the way?

    A quick, easy solution is to pop your clothes in the Microwave for a few seconds, and Presto!, warm and fuzzy!

    Just don't try it with metal zippers or buttons, nylon might melt, you might start a fire...
    • by evanbd (210358)
      Have you ever tried tossing an RFID tag into the microwave? I've done that with a couple I've gotten in books. Antennas designed to receive microwaves produce an impressive spark show...
  • it will also work great for regular folks as well, especially in the US where we have an illegal immigration problem... no chip, no paycheck!

    oh wait... where have I heard about that before?
  • Think again! Those chips are going to be sewn in right down there in the kids' underpants.

    Incidentally, if any gnomes are reading this:

    ??? = RFID

    • by thewiz (24994) *

      Think again! Those chips are going to be sewn in right down there in the kids' underpants.

      If that's the case, then we'll see a return of the 1960's where girls are burning their bras.
      Of course, the boys won't mind it a bit.
  • I remember a study that linked implanted chips with cancer.

    Surely, in this case they are only in the clothes, but still too close to the body.

    And what about all the X/raying people in airports and other places?

    Will you trade your health for (a little) security?
  • didn't they just find that those are directly related to cancer? are they seriously putting carcinogenic devices in students uniforms? which one is it this time? "think of the children"? or "it's for their safety"?
  • England Prevails.
  • The word is, "Skive [english2american.com]".
  • two words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drDugan (219551) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @10:49PM (#21263031) Homepage
    Child abuse.

    These two words describe a situation where an abuse is perpetrated on a child.

    These people are children, and probably do not have the full context to understand just how bad life can get when they are older, and realize that most of the owrld is out for themselves and there are no parents or teachers around to protect them.

    As for calling it abuse: using tech like this to track other people has not yet become abuse - but I feel strongly that is exactly where this trend will go. It will migrate from voluntary to beneficial to compulsory and eventually, to involuntary. Already in the US and in bars in Latin America do we hear about people putting them in their skin. In the name of safety, in the name of peace, in the name of efficiency, in the name of prosperity and growth and everything good, people will eventually be forced to accept the tracking chip that tracks them cradle to grave. And when we are there, we will look back at these voluntary, ignorant, precious children and realize that it was an abuse to start the process.

    Somehow in this techstrubation system I see research like this that has completely lost touch with what is good about living simply, without gadgets or crutches or machines that inevitably make things better for a minority of people in power, but worse for a majority of not-in-power people.

    • by owlnation (858981)

      Somehow in this techstrubation system I see research like this that has completely lost touch with what is good about living simply, without gadgets or crutches or machines that inevitably make things better for a minority of people in power, but worse for a majority of not-in-power people.

      Yes, great post. This is of course occurring in the UK, where in the past 5 years alone more tech has been employed to monitor more people than anywhere else. Currently the monitoring has proved worthless for its stated

  • There seems to be a lot of thrashing about on the issues of privacy, identity theft, and security, etc...

    The obvious answer is to submit everyone to an incontrovertible form of ID, so that you know that anyone presenting themselves as someone is that somebody...

    Soon (hand-wavingly-vague here), there will be the technological means to do that.

    Do you really want that?

    Right now you can always say "it wastn't me" and hopefully get a majority jury to agree with you. Do you want a future where there is no

  • by PPH (736903) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @10:58PM (#21263081)
    Sensors have been added to warn school officials if the students' pants are being worn too low.
  • by Jethro (14165) on Tuesday November 06, 2007 @11:00PM (#21263095) Homepage
    I would sign up for such a program SPECIFICALLY to mess with it.
  • No, ladies. Skipping class is easy! All you have to do is take off your shirts.
  • There are many good reasons for this and many equally good against. Sidestepping the whole issue all I have to say is that it sends a chill down my spine for a very simple reason: Its a step towards totalitarianism. Each little step may be small but theres a lot of future ahead to make up for that.
  • <sarcasm&irony>
    Sociopaths who want to go on killing sprees in schools shouldn't have to search in each classroom to find people to kill! We should have RFIDs attached to all the students so that the psychos can carry a detector along with lots of guns and can skip the empty classrooms to concentrate on those with the most kids. They can also make sure they don't miss anyone hiding in a closet. Heck, even regular bullies could benefit and use it to find out which entrance Johnny Victim is trying to
    • "..and that the system can be set up to limit access to doors for certain people at certain times, including shutting the main doors of a school to pupils during classtime."

      I think that must be one of the best arguments for this kind of thing. Or at least for the United States of America where this kind of thing happens! FYI killing sprees in schools is not an issue in Europe.

      As for the school bullies, you really think they won't find Johnny Victim without it? And child predators hardly need the RFID to

      • by ppanon (16583)

        "..and that the system can be set up to limit access to doors for certain people at certain times, including shutting the main doors of a school to pupils during classtime."
        I think that must be one of the best arguments for this kind of thing. Or at least for the United States of America where this kind of thing happens! FYI killing sprees in schools is not an issue in Europe.

        Nor for the most part in Canada (with the borderline exception of Marc Lepine, who was an adult ex-student). In both cases, you have

  • 'nuff said.
  • Why don't they just chain the children up? That is much simpler and far more effective. http://www.unesco.org/courier/2001_06/uk/droits.htm [unesco.org] http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/yearoftheslave.html [whatreallyhappened.com] http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/children_in_chains.pdf [uri.edu]
  • So, by embedding it into the school uniform they make it part of the dress code... Whose idea is it that students should wear uniforms in the first place? I can't see any logic in this idea in a free society, although I can see that it is useful in a McDonaldised society for making children feel that behaving like robots is normal.
    • by Eivind (15695)
      Dunno. Nobody wears a school-uniform here in Norway. But there's a few (imho weak, but they're there) arguments in favour of school-uniforms.

      Chief among them is that it is hypothesized that when everyone wears the same clothes, this source of inequality and mob-pressure to have the coolest clothes etc diminishes, so theorethically that'd be an advantage say to poorer children.

      In practice it doesn't work that way, because children aren't dumb. Sure the -clothes- may be equal, but the poor child still has the
    • by nagora (177841)
      I can't see any logic in this idea in a free society, although I can see that it is useful in a McDonaldised society for making children feel that behaving like robots is normal.

      School uniforms are common over here and in fact combat the McDonaldised society. There is nothing better for the people who want all our kids to grow up slaves to logos and brands than sticking them in amongst a peer group of hundreds where they will be judged on how much Niké shit they can buy. A few years of that and they'l

  • Isn't it amazing that convicted criminals have more freedom inside their prison walls than the innocent children have within their school walls?
  • "Mischief managed."
  • Worryingly no one in the chain of decision making about this project stood up and said that this is so wrong they refuse to have anything to do with it.

    It is after all Hungerhill school in Edenthorpe and something needs to be done, but this is just so wrong.
  • Nice to see that ./ has its finger on the pulse.

    It was/is a classroom project: Hungerford is a technology oriented school. All the kids involved were so voluntarily. I'm sure there are lizards in the local and national education departments who are thinking 'hmmm...' about this but it's not any kind of policy.
  • the system can be set up to limit access to doors for certain people at certain times, including shutting the main doors of a school to pupils during classtime.

    Let's just hope the various systems involve are intelligent enough to deal with unforseeable situations such as fires or gun-toting amok-runners.

  • Let's have some methods for detecting and destroying RFID gizmos.
  • ... Hungerhill chair of governors, Moira Bates, said she was unaware of the project and was not prepared to comment until she had had a meeting at the school ...

    WTF!? Surely the school governors passed this trial before it happened?

  • I don't understand why so many people are frothing at the mouth about this. Juveniles do not have the same rights as adults. A school wanting to track pupils to help prevent truancy does not automatically lead to 1984 surveillance in every home.

    The people who complain that it won't work are, in my opinion, over-rating the cooperative intelligence of schoolkids, but even if they're right that doesn't mean it can't be trialled.
  • They make me carry round a card which uses RFID to unlock doors of my building. Oh the humanity, now they know at the flick of a switch whether I'm in the building or not.

    And Schneier's point is moot, as the school will soon notice a discrepancy between the apparent presence of said student who lent his shirt to his colleague, and the teacher's testimony with their own eyes.
  • At least the tech/nerdy kids will get a new toy to play with. I mean I'm sure they'll figure out in short order how to manipulate the data on the chip. If it's properly stored it'll be just an encrypted ID number reference to a database somewhere else. But given some of the security blunders you hear about RFID chips we'll probably see all the data stored on plaintext.

    Then a student can easily change these parameters after school. When the school catches it, he just claims to not know anything about i

Hold on to the root.

Working...