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Texas High School Student Loses Lawsuit Challenging RFID Tracking Requirement 412

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-terribly-surprising dept.
Chris453 writes "Earlier today, a Texas High School student named Andrea Hernandez and her family lost the first round of the lawsuit filed to prevent her school district from forcing its students to wear RFID badges for tracking purposes. The judge in the case declared that the district's compromise for the student (a badge without the battery) was sufficient and dismissed any First Amendment issues. The badges are RFIDs powered by built-in batteries and one of the concerns was that the badges would be used to track students off-campus. Interestingly enough, the school district claims in court documents that 'The badges do not work off campus (PDF).' However, on their website, the school district confirms that it is conceivable that an off-campus RFID reader could access badge serial numbers, but tries to downplay the significance: 'Therefore, an intruder or "hacker" can only learn that the tag serial number is, for example, #69872331, but that does not provide any useful information. Has the district committed perjury by claiming that the active RFIDs magically deactivate themselves when off school property?"
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Texas High School Student Loses Lawsuit Challenging RFID Tracking Requirement

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  • Sorry dude (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dyingtolive (1393037) <brad.arnett@NoSPAM.notforhire.org> on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:17AM (#42530883)
    You're under 18, so not a human being in the eyes of the state, and as such subject to being tracked like cattle.

    If it's any consolation, the rest of us are only marginally human beings in the eyes of the state, and are still subject to being tracked like cattle if we go out to anywhere public, or use any service or product. On the bright side, you're getting indoctrinated to it early.
  • by Qzukk (229616) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:24AM (#42530933) Journal

    Sounds like any perjury on their part would hinge on what it means to work and whether the judge allows them to make their own definition of the word.

  • Re:Read the PDF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by coinreturn (617535) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:26AM (#42530943)

    I think it is fairly clear that it is the ability of staff to track students location that only works when the student is on campus. Of course it would have been better to qualify that with a statement that the card will still respond to other readers:

    ...the chip in the Smart ID badge also enables school staff to locate a student on a campus with a very large student population.16 The campus is equipped with sensors to read the card and school staff can determine the general whereabouts of the student carrying the card.17 The sensors do not give an exact reading or pinpoint the precise location of a student (e.g. a specific classroom), but it would show whether the student is in a certain wing of the school.18 The Smart ID badges work only within the school campus that has been equipped with sensors to read them.19 The badges do not work off campus.

    I agree. I think the "perjury" comment was there just for inflammatory purposes.

  • Perjury? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:32AM (#42531005)

    No. If the "system" "works" in such a way, then once you break that way, that system breaks. Now, you may be left with multiple parts of that system, in different places, and maybe another system could use that piece for it's purpose, but it's not perjury to say that those cards do not "work" off campus, because here "work" is defined by being an active part (ID badge) of an active system (school RFID system), with an intended purpose.

    It's sorta weird to see how RFID is associated with privacy. The student is at school, in their physical body, that we all can see with our built-in eyes! Normally, they're accounted for via some "roll-call" in the mornings (or at least that's how we used to do it back in the day), and then that information was sent to the office where it was processed, and a larger set of information was sent to the state, and everyone that was at school that day was accounted for, it's been happening for a long time now. So what if they want to put teachers at all corners of the halls and watch all of the students, what's wrong with that? ...other than it being waaay to expensive for the tax payers to pay the teachers. So instead, they try this idea, and everyone is trying to freak out over a privacy issue. I don't get it, but I'm old and it's probably time that I just move on to yelling at the neighborhood kids about my fine grass.

  • Battery? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:34AM (#42531019) Journal
    "The judge in the case declared that the district's compromise for the student (a badge without the battery) was sufficient"

    Active RFID tags cost a fuckload of a lot more than passive ones, not to mention they occasionally need the battery replaced. Never mind the privacy issues here, why the hell do we allow public schools to waste so much taxpayer money on frivolous BS like this?

    I have two passive RFID badges I use on a daily basis, and they do their thing just fine. Hold it up to the pad next to the door, the door goes "click", done.
  • Maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:36AM (#42531039)

    ...just maybe if she didn't include a hypothesis that wasn't absolutely looney-tunes, she would have a better argument.

    Using the bible as a basis for legal argument is dumb. It can be *part* of an argument, to show history, but this whole "mark of the beast" Revelations crap is just crap.

    FTFA:

    "The judge disagreed. In a 25-page ruling, he wrote that the Hernandezâ(TM)s refusal to wear the badge even without the tracking chip undermined her claims that the district was violating her religious freedom. âoePlaintiff's objection to wearing the Smart ID badge without a chip is clearly a secular choice, rather than a religious concern,â Garcia wrote."

    Evangelicals drive around with drivers' licenses with numbers and a photo and other state/work/school IDs. They don't have a religious objection to those. So why is it suddenly a religious objection when it's a high school ID even without an RFID chip?

    Someone's telling tall tales here, and it's not necessarily the school being mistaken about the utility of RFID off campus.

    I want an argument against RFID badges that doesn't include a batshit-insane argument about Satan, because I think there are legitimate privacy concerns about RFID being trackable outside of their intended environments. But this gets drowned out in the herp-a-derp religiosity, which only paints those with real concerns as shiny-side-out tinfoil haberdashers.

    This girl and her dad aren't helping. Not. One. Bit.

    --
    BMO

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:39AM (#42531059)

    "Therefore, an intruder or "hacker" can only learn that the tag serial number is, for example, #69872331, but that does not provide any useful information."

    Joe Stalker sits in a car, watches student walk by, and notes the RFID that shows up on his scanner. From that point on the student is trackable by RFID.

    Sure, the ID# doesn't provide any personal information by itself, but now any personal information that is found (e.g., follows student to home address) can now be uniquely associated with that student and tracked. The exact reason why a unique ID is useful in the school context is also why it would be equally useful in other contexts. If it works at all, then, yes, it does "work off campus". The fact that you can't access the school's database mapping from RFID to student personal information is irrelevant. Someone could build their own database.

  • Re:Sorry dude (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:42AM (#42531081)

    Well, just students. In Saudi-Arabia, every woman is tracked via her cellphone. If she is found to try leaving the state, her male guardian (every woman has a mostly legally responsible guardian like a husband, brother or father) is notified by SMS. Of course, that's just a compromise as, strictly speaking, women are not allowed to move without their guardian's supervision in public at all, at penalty of flaying.

    We're ok with all that because Saudi-Arabia has a whole lot of oil.

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:43AM (#42531103)
    And how would you get back into the school the next day?
  • by SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:47AM (#42531143) Journal

    I'll bet if they gave each student a free cell phone (which "may or may not" contain tracking technology) that they can keep with themselves during school, they'd be ALL over that!

  • Re:Battery? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @08:51AM (#42531187)

    I think that's his entire point... passive RFIDs can be tracked just fine like the school wants, so why waste all the extra money? He's not saying anything about whether or not it's right for them to be tracked. Besides, most RFIDs can be blocked easily enough, especially those that are embedded in cards.

  • Re:Perjury? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @09:00AM (#42531297)

    It makes it easy and inexpensive to automate following you around. To follow a single person using the Eyeball Mk1 takes about ten people. To follow them by RFID takes a few inexpensive readers scattered around. You can track students for good reasons - or for bad ones (stalking etc),

    Not that I want to take a knee-jerk attitude to this and say it must be banned. But it has unintended consequences, which may not have been thought through.

  • Re:Micowave Oven (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cigarra (652458) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @09:06AM (#42531347)
    It's not about a working tag or not. It's about COMPLIANCE. They will let her use a tag with the batteries removed, as long as she doesn't make waves and looks like she's OK with the system.
  • Re:Read the PDF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artfulshrapnel (1893096) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @09:16AM (#42531449)

    Well it kind of is perjury. The badges do indeed "work" off campus, in that if pinged by and RFID scanner they respond with their unique ID code.

    A stalker or someone who wanted to do harm to a specific student doesn't need access to their full records, they just need to determine that ID code and use it to track them.

  • Re:Read the PDF (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @09:23AM (#42531515)

    If you can buy the sensors, you can read the tag- period. It's not clear at all to someone who's honestly versed in the practice of RF Identification that it does ANYTHING other than report it's ID. Powered tags have varying extra abilities. Things like faster turn on. Extended range at lower reader powers (tag senses the read pulse and POWERS ON, giving a chirp reply...). That sort of thing.

    The DOD has badge readers that will identify their DOD badge docked into a holder that do this at hundreds of feet from the reader- as an example. These tags? They're IN that class of devices.

    Either the School District's stupid (probable), lying, or both.

    It amazes me to no end just how friggin' stupid the lot is here on /. that they can't even manage to understand that concept and are willing to defend the stupidity we're seeing exhibited here by the District.

  • by wcrowe (94389) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @09:29AM (#42531589)

    Every student should refuse to wear the badges. They don't have to destroy the badges or anything like that. Just get together and toss them in a big pile. Problem solved. They're not going to suspend every single student. Of course I come from the tail end of a generation where burning draft cards, holding sit-ins and other acts of civil disobedience were not such a foreign idea.

  • Re:Sorry dude (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @09:33AM (#42531637)

    No problem, broad.

    (I like to call men "broads" sometimes.)

  • Re:Read the PDF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @09:38AM (#42531683)
    Except that staff, who have access to the information regarding which students have which RFID badges, can track the students off campus, they just cannot do so with the school's equipment. It is not the badges which do not work off campus, it is the central tracking system which does not work off campus. This is a violation of "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth." There is a reason that the oath is worded that way, your statements to the court under oath are supposed to be worded so as to be clear as to their meaning. Reading this it looks to me like this was carefully worded so as to make it seem that the badges stopped functioning when the student left campus while leaving the school able to say, "Oh no, that is not what we meant at all."
  • Re:Sorry dude (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @10:21AM (#42532215) Homepage Journal
    And presumably you want children to be human from conception, so that if you accidently kill a 2 week pregnant woman you will charged with two murders, one of a child.

    Or perhaps we should treat kids like full humans and allow them to work. There are many right to work states that would love to give 10 year old children the right to work. After all we are violating their basic rights by not allowing them to work.

    or how about the right to bear arms. Right now even the NRA would violate the child's basic right to protection herself.

    I am not a fan of badges, but badges are a fact of work life so we might as well train the kids to wear badges. After all, if the kids are full human they should be encourages to do the same things as other human. And more and more badges are RFID.

    To get more serious, this lawsuit seems to go more from the paranoid delusions of someone who does not understand the physics and reality of RFID rather than any rational objection. For instance, presuming these are not self power tags, the distance would be measured in inches rather than feet or miles.so any tracking outside of school would be prohibitively expensive. And there would be no way to force kids to wear school ids outside of school anyway. Any delisional paranoid could do what any delusion paranoid would do. Wear a tin foil hat.

    And do underestimate the delusions of texas. We are the site of the Waco terrorist religious attack on america back in 1993, and the FLDS affiliated teen sex farm in Brazoria County back in 2008.

    Any infringement on right have to balanced. Young children in school are required to stay with a teacher even to go the bathroom. This is acceptable to most people. In high school, there is more freedom but you are required to be in school. Frankly, RFID tags are less invasive method and more accurate to insure the student is where he or she is supposed to be. There are many cases in which a student claims to be somewhere, but the records show they weren't. With an RFID tag teachers mistakes will not put the kid in jeopardy. Sure, kids switch and give badges to others, so the system is not perfect, but it will do more to protect students who operate in good faith.

  • Re:Sorry dude (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mariox19 (632969) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @10:42AM (#42532513)

    [W]e might as well train the kids to wear badges.

    Shame on you.

  • Re:Sorry dude (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @10:42AM (#42532519)

    I am not a fan of badges, but badges are a fact of work life so we might as well train the kids to wear badges.

    I have never worked at a place were I needed to wear a badge and I doubt that I ever will.

  • Re:Sorry dude (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dyingtolive (1393037) <brad.arnett@NoSPAM.notforhire.org> on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @10:43AM (#42532537)

    I am not a fan of badges, but badges are a fact of work life so we might as well train the kids to wear badges. After all, if the kids are full human they should be encourages to do the same things as other human. And more and more badges are RFID.

    Right, get them accustomed to it early, like respecting authority and always doing what you're told without question. Fact of life.

    For instance, presuming these are not self power tags,

    From TFS: "The badges are RFIDs powered by built-in batteries..."

    Any infringement on right have to balanced. Young children in school are required to stay with a teacher even to go the bathroom. This is acceptable to most people. In high school, there is more freedom but you are required to be in school. Frankly, RFID tags are less invasive method and more accurate to insure the student is where he or she is supposed to be. There are many cases in which a student claims to be somewhere, but the records show they weren't. With an RFID tag teachers mistakes will not put the kid in jeopardy. Sure, kids switch and give badges to others, so the system is not perfect, but it will do more to protect students who operate in good faith.

    It's been a long time since I was a minor, and I don't have children, so I suppose my perspective is skewed, but at the risk of sounding like one of those "must reject technology or anything that's not the old ways" people, children have managed to survive to adulthood without RFID tags. Sure, some kids have had terrible things occur to them, but I do not believe you can legitimately solve societal issues with technological mandates.

  • Re:Sorry dude (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @10:47AM (#42532593)

    "You're under 18, so not a human being in the eyes of the state, "

    So then why the uproar over the Newtown massacre?

  • Re:Sorry dude (Score:5, Insightful)

    by punman (412350) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @11:09AM (#42532919) Journal

    ... I do not believe you can legitimately solve societal issues with technological mandates.

    Nor with legislation.

  • Re:Maybe... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @11:12AM (#42532959)

    Question for you BMO:

    How does a person redress the government when they feel the government has perverted their soul and possibly condemned them to Hell by forcing upon them the Number of the Beast?

    Answer for you BMO:

    Appeal the rulings all the way to the Supreme Court and have the First Amendment reaffirmed.

    Whether or not you agree or disagree is completely irrelevant to issue. This girl has the religious right to not be mandated to do anything, especially anything her religion mandates against.

    As an agnostic I feel terribly sorry for you (you come off like a dickish-Dawkins atheist...) that you need to resort to the Dawkins Dick-move: flying spaghetti monster her beliefs. I cannot possibly know one way or the other, but I find it devilishly (pun intended) delicious to think God is real, and people like you will be spit roasted for eternity just for being dicks intentionally. You literally brought nothing to the philosophical table. Kind of like Dawkins does. Kudos, dick.

  • Re:Maybe... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bmo (77928) on Wednesday January 09, 2013 @11:40AM (#42533347)

    This girl has the religious right to not be mandated to do anything, especially anything her religion mandates against.

    Prove it.

    Prove that this is against her religion. Prove that state issued IDs are against her religion. Prove that all Evangelicals that rant and rave about the Mark of the Beast, while Evangelicals accept state issued IDs in other contexts, like taxes, jobs, bank accounts, etc.

    PROVE IT.

    PROVE ALL THINGS; HOLD FAST THAT WHICH IS GOOD. - 1 THESSALONIANS 5:21

    I feel terribly sorry for you

    Blow me.

    --
    BMO

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