Editorial: Bill would limit electronic tracking of students


In some schools in Texas and California, radio-frequency devices have been installed in student ID cards or clothing, allowing the schools to track students’ locations and take attendance automatically.

No one has proposed doing this in Oregon, but legislators are working on a bill that would set limits.

We prefer the original HB 2386, which flatly prohibited using the technology to track children, but the amended version goes a long way toward addressing potential problems.

It instructs the state Board of Education to establish policies that protect student privacy and security, require notification of students and parents, and allow students to opt out.

In legislative testimony, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon spoke in favor of the bill, citing privacy and security risks of the tracking technology. The group’s written statement said security breaches could allow an unknown person to copy information and track the child, or even fool the system by making a copy of the chip that would report the child is still on campus when, in fact, he or she has left.

Representatives of companies developing and selling the technology oppose the bill, and told legislators the law could damage their businesses and destroy jobs.

Radio-frequency tracking surely has many appropriate uses, and we value development of the industry. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s appropriate in our schools, tracking our children. Legislators are wise to get ahead of this issue.