Japanese School Authorities to Tag Children

School authorities in the Japanese city of Osaka are to begin tagging the pupils of one of their primary schools with RFIDs. Radio Frequency Identification tags are tiny transceivers capable to broadcasting their location and other data to nearby receivers. The tags have generated controversy in recent years as supermarkets and clothes retailers have begun embedding them in their products.

Once just a jacket accessory for retrieving the posh out of snow drifts after skiing accidents, RFID technology can now track goods around a store – and in the case of clothing, can inform Gap’s data mining operation that you’re wearing previous purchases the second you walk in the store.

Keeping privacy considerations in mind, the Japanese have evidently decided that the negative side of tagging is now outweighed by the increased security of their children.

The Wakayama primary school will install RFID readers on gates and around the school, and will be able to track the movements of children around the building. It is expected that the scheme will be employed in other schools later, and you can bet that the eyes of the world’s school boards will be watching this very closely.

We reported a similar child-tracking story a few weeks ago with Lego’s introduction of RFID child tracking at their Billund theme park.

Wikipedia on RFID

Spy Chips – RFID security concerns

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?