Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Did I fall asleep last night and wake up in a dystopian sci-fi novel? This is from The New York Times:

SPRING, Tex. - In front of her gated apartment complex, Courtney Payne, a 9-year-old fourth grader with dark hair pulled tightly into a ponytail, exits a yellow school bus. Moments later, her movement is observed by Alan Bragg, the local police chief, standing in a windowless control room more than a mile away.

Chief Bragg is not using video surveillance. Rather, he watches an icon on a computer screen. The icon marks the spot on a map where Courtney got off the bus, and, on a larger level, it represents the latest in the convergence of technology and student security.

Hoping to prevent the loss of a child through kidnapping or more innocent circumstances, a few schools have begun monitoring student arrivals and departures using technology similar to that used to track livestock and pallets of retail shipments.

Here in a growing middle- and working-class suburb just north of Houston, the effort is undergoing its most ambitious test. The Spring Independent School District is equipping 28,000 students with ID badges containing computer chips that are read when the students get on and off school buses. The information is fed automatically by wireless phone to the police and school administrators....

Isn't this the kind of thing that shouldn't happen in the South because the gummint just has no damn right?

And is this a good idea in general -- declaring children (including teenagers) a class of persons who have no right not to be tracked? What other subgroup will be tracked after that? How slippery will this slope get?

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