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February 28, 2014

Retracted as Based on Error: Tennessee State University Now Requiring Students to Wear Badges With a Built-In "Proximity Chip" So Their Movements In and Out of Buildings Can Be Tracked on Campus

Wow. But See Caveat/Caution, Below.

The reason offered is that there has been a "rash" of vandalism on campus, some break-ins, and a recent shooting on school grounds. (The victim was not himself a student.)

The chip, I think, will not actually track everyone at all times. That is, I don't think it contains a strong radio signal that would allow a general second-by-second tracking of movement. I think the idea of the "proximity chip" is that it will only register a signal when it's brought close to specific locations which will detect proximity. So I'm guessing that mostly it will track people coming in and out of buildings, and perhaps their presence in major outdoor locations like the middle of a quad.

Though one could, of course, build so many such proximity-detection stations as to achieve that moment-by-moment tracking. Thus, in principle, they've established the principle of second-by-second location tracking. The only thing restraining them is budget -- how many position locators can you afford?

This is creepy, and it seems once again to be government/institutional overreach. The school, being a state school, is part of the government. The "problem" being solved here is... vandalism, which is a crime, and destructive, and annoying, but does that justify second-by-second monitoring of every student, as if he were a prisoner?

The shooting seems to be a one-off thing -- their press release speaks of a "rash" of vandalism but just the one shooting. Break-ins are ominous, but... isn't that why dorms have locked doors?

Every creepy, monitoring, controlling move is and will be justified by "safety" and "health" concerns.

I'm very curious about how all this happened. I'm curious about how people just decided that this was a perfectly reasonable response to vandalism.

Caveat/Caution: Commenters question whether or not this is simply the well-known sort of swipe card -- or touch card -- that are in common and widespread use in office buildings.

The news release makes it sound like it's more than that -- but perhaps they want to make it sound like it's more than it is to show they're really doing everything possible to crack down on vandalism. Maybe they're using terms like "proximity chip" when they really should just say: "We've now got swipe card readers on all exterior doors."

I don't know. But commenters make a good case that I'm blowing this out of proportion without knowing what is actually going on.


Okay, well, if that's true, I'm not sure what's left of this post. Wearing an ID badge on campus is annoying, and not usually done, but I'm not sure I can pitch a proper bitch about that.

digg this
posted by Ace at 11:44 AM

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