Privacy Schools Use GPS Uniforms to Track Students! (Nanny of the Month, April 2012)


We've got Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal demanding clean urine in exchange for welfare benefits (a bad idea that also doesn't work as advertised, but hey, at least the boozers are safe!), North Carolina regulators busting a blogger for praising the paleo diet (an offense that can get you tossed in the clink!), but this month the freakiest controllers come to us from a Brazilian city where public schools have begun tracking thousands of 4-to-14-year-olds with GPS-embedded uniforms. (At least they're not tagging the kiddos' ears!)

Presenting's Nanny of the Month for April 2012: The City of Vitoria da Conquista!

Approximately 80 seconds.

"Nanny of the Month" is written and produced by Ted Balaker. Opening animation by Meredith Bragg.

Go here to watch previous "Nanny of the Month" episodes.

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  1. … come to us from a Brazilian city

    That’s when I lost interest.

  2. The chips, similar to those used to track pets in many countries, are placed underneath each school’s coat-of-arms or on one of the sleeves below a phrase that says: “Education does not transform the world. Education changes people and people transform the world.”

    My only question if I was one of these kids would be: Which one today, hammer or microwave?

    1. Hammer is highly recommended over microwave. RFID tags explode and light things on fire when you microwave them. I know, I’ve done it. It would look like someone put a cigarette out on your uniform’s coat of arms, although maybe you’d want to go for that look.

      Unfortunately, the school would also not get an arrived event when you showed up for school and the administrators would know something was up when attendance records didn’t match up with the logs. So your “modification” regardless of how you did it would probably be discovered within a day.

      1. It would be enough to sow a little chaos. I was a little asshole after all.

        1. If you like you could take all their shirts when everyone is in gym class and stuff them all in a microwave, then turn it on (1 second should be enough). That would break everyone’s shirt at the same time, although you might want a fire extinguisher handy just in case the shirts aren’t made of wool.

  3. I would have loved that in high school. Call up Sister Elizabeth, on a Saturday morning and ask, “Sorry for calling so early, Sister, I had a rough night. Can your system tell me where the hell I am?”

    1. I have have removed that chip from Mary Jane’s sleever and slipped it into couch Deever’s pocket.

  4. yeah, but it’s Brazil, it could never happen here.

  5. At first glance I missed the colon and had a whole WTF moment.

  6. As my expertise may be of use to this debate, I think I’ll chime in. I can tell you right now that I’m 99% certain that that school is using RFID chips and not GPS devices. a GPS device would need a battery and would be difficult to put into a uniform, and even if you did they would get broken right away. RFID tags induce a current via radio waves given off by a reader and therefore do not require a battery (though you can use one if you wish).

    The school most likely wired up its entrances and exits with fixed UHF readers and keeps a log (or another event of some sort) every time they see a student. I do similar installs all the time, although I usually keep track of items or pallets and not people.

    1. The image of the chip shown in the video is clearly not a GPS system. I agree that it’s probably RFID and would track kids entering/exiting a school gateway which has an RFID reader installed.

      This is not the big nanny-cluster-fuck that Reason makes it out to be.

      Presumably, the kids are required to be at school, and the school is repsonsible to track attendance. No privacy invasion is occuring.

      1. There are still privacy concerns with RFID. The school could, for instance, set up a reader in the bathrooms and keep track of how frequently and how long the kids were in the bathrooms for. Not exactly 1984 but might annoy or anger some. As RFID tracks from a distance and without the knowledge of the individual they could easily do this without the students knowledge.

        Getting into worse scenarios, lets say a school went beyond its boundaries and banned students from a store or something. If they set up a reader at the entrance of the store they could keep track of any students that came in assuming the student was wearing the uniform or had it on them. It is a far-fetched example, but schools have done worse before.

        1. Yes, it’s all about how many readers there are and where they are installed.

          The video says the school was trying to stop kids from playing “hooky”. So presumably they care about kids that don’t show up or kids who depart after attendence has been taken. In this case, an RFID reader at a school door or a gate leading into the grounds would be reasonable.

          But the other things you mention are possible and mission-creep is standard practice with government agencies.

        2. I know guys that have done investigations into reading RFID tags in sealed bins from 500 yards away. Works most of the time, but not enough to field a useful system.

          1. A friend of mine who’s forgotten more about this shit than most people know is pretty sure he could make an RFID “gun” that could read an RFID from quite a distance. I understand enough of it in priciple to believe it’s perfectly possible.

            1. Yes, directional antenna and lot of transmit power. OK for snooping on people/things. Not enough 9’s of availability/integrity for a commercial system.

    2. Used to work at a paranoid tech company where they allegedly could track us anywhere on campus via our ID badges. I didn’t worry about it since I was basically cube-bound 15 hours a day. It seemed to help them catch a guy that stole a bunch of laptops, though.

  7. A GPS locating system would require a power source (e.g, a battery which runs down quickly and needs to be recharged), an antenna for picking up GPS signals, and an antenna for broadcasting location signals. Such a system would most likely fail the first time the shirt went through the wash.

  8. We’ve got Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal demanding clean urine in exchange for welfare benefits (a bad idea that also doesn’t work as advertised, but hey, at least the boozers are safe!),

    Wasn’t there a Great Libertarian Divide on this subject about a year ago?

  9. Sometimes you jsut have to jump up and shout, Who is your Daddy??

  10. We could have Nanny of the Day in Brazil. You don’t know how much you’ve been missing.

  11. presenting’s Nanny of the Month for April 2012: The City of Vitoria da Conquista!…..-c-20.html Approximately 80 seconds.
    “Nanny of the Month” is written and produced by Ted Balaker. Opening animation by Meredith Bragg.

  12. “Nanny of the Month” is written and produced by Ted Balaker. Opening animation by Meredith Bragg.

  13. written and produced by Ted Balaker.

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