In the past year, there has been an expedited push to force many people to accept biometrics as normal tracking tools for everyday life. Online, we often read of new tools capable of tracking our every move so that our behavior can be tracked, targeted, and sold to advertisers. Several groups and individuals, however, have been pushing back and demanding privacy, so companies have begun to shift their focus towards children. The question of tracking children keeps coming up in newspapers, editorials, blogs, and magazines and we must face it realistically instead of ignoring it. We cannot always rely on organizations, such as the ACLU and EFF, to do the investigations for us.
In an open letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department, ACLU-NC and EFF are asking officials to disclose what technical and security measures are used by the system to safeguard the privacy and safety of preschoolers, as well as what data is collected, how long it is retained, and who has access to the information. The letter also calls on officials to publicly address why and how the government decided to track Head Start students, and if the government plans to expand such tracking.
Children do not fully understand the concerns that privacy advocates have towards tracking people via biometric identification nor do they understand why keeping this information private is important. They are easy targets because they don’t understand the technology and they are taught to respect their elders and to do as adults, particularly teachers, tell them to do.
It should, therefore, come as no surprise that children are being targeted by schools, governments, and corporations in an effort to have all individuals’ private information in a database. Parents of children are also being targeted under the guise of safety issues. Parents, however, are the least objective when it comes to the safety of their children. They can, and usually will, do just about anything to keep their children safe.
California recently introduced backpacks with RFID so that students could be tracked getting on and off the bus. Houston, Texas is tracking its pupils. In 2007, a school in the United Kingdom introduced school uniforms with RFID tracking devices in them. Students quickly defeated them, but schools have kept trying.
Since the end of WWII, every child in America was taught to hate the phrase “papers please,” that spying on your neighbors was wrong, and everyone was entitled to their privacy. In the last ten years, the idea of personal privacy has changed, leading a vast amount of the American citizenry to think there is nothing wrong with giving up a little privacy for security, even if that security is perceived and not real or practical. We have become afraid of ourselves and everything around us, allowing governments and corporations to manipulate our long-held beliefs and ideals. Is this truly the future we envisioned and hoped for?