Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri has vetoed a bill banning the use of RFID to track students in his states’ schools, according to School Bus Transportation News. He said decisions to use the technology should be left to school districts and parents.
The bill was inspired by a pilot program at the Middletown Public School district which planned to place RFID tags in the book bags of 80 elementary students. According to MAP IT Corp., the company proposing the program, the students would then be tracked as part of a school bus GPS system. Theoretical uses of the system included helping parents to know where their children were in weather-related emergencies.
The program drew the ire of the Rhode Island affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union. Steven Brown, executive director of the local ACLU, said the program offered a solution to a problem that didn’t exist, treating children as objects and even potentially offered a tool for pedophiles, though the limited range of the tags would seem to limit that possibility.
The bill was passed by the Rhode Island legislature by a vote of 48 to 19. Similar projects have met opposition in California and Florida.
Though the governor has clear the way, MAP IT Corp. says that neither the Middletown Public Schools nor any of Rhode Island’s 35 other school districts will use the system this school year, mostly due to budgetary constraints.
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