We plant tracking chips in our dogs and cats, so how long before we plant them in our children? Well, we're not there quite yet, but we are getting just a little closer. RFID tagging for children has been a topic of discussion for local governments all around the world, with preliminary trials in Japan, the UK, and even California since as early as 2005. But for 20,000 schoolchildren in San Paulo, Brazil, location tracking is not just an experiment--it's mandated government policy. The program commenced earlier this week, instituted in 25 of San Paulo's 213 public schools. Thankfully, children aren't implanted with a chip, but their mandatory school uniforms and t-shirts now have the tracking chips sewn in.
By 2013, the city hopes that all of its 43,000 public school students between the age of 4 and 14 will be forced to wear these shirts. The chips track whether the student enters the school and notifies their parents over text message. Students have been known to ditch school after being dropped off by their parents, and the program is supposed to keep parents as well as the kids accountable--three violations and the parents are called in to explain the absence. Otherwise, the authorities are called.
Expected, the program isn't without its critics, with privacy violations being the obvious concern. The government also spent $670,000 implementing the program, money which some have argued would better be spent improving the education system through different means, like bolstering teachers' salaries or materials budgets.
On the privacy front, universal location tracking can be a slippery slope, and we're already part of the way there. Modern home security systems already have built-in cameras and internet connections so homeowners can track the entry and exit of anyone opening a door or window, whether it's an intruder or just a family member. And that's information not even going through the government, but being funneled through a private security company.