Senator Craig Estes amends H.B. 5 to provide needed oversight of the use of RFID technology by Texas school districts
Austin — State Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) successfully amended H.B. 5 to require school districts to receive school board approval prior to using radio frequency information technology (RFID) to track students. The amendment also requires a parental opt-out provision for parents who do not want their children tracked by their school.
RFID is a tracking technology that uses radio waves to identify, track, and monitor physical objects. RFID tags can transmit data silently through the air, unhindered by doors, walls, backpacks, purses, or clothing.
Those opposed to using RFID tags to monitor school children note various concerns about the technology including violation of free speech and association, violation of religious freedom, conditioning children to be tracked and monitored, and invasion of privacy.
"School districts should not use RFID technology without prior approval by the school board and a parental opt-out provision," Senator Estes said. "I don't think schools should track our children at all, but at the very least there should be some community and parental oversight to the process."
In addition to civil liberty concerns, there are also fears that relying on the technology rather than observation would create security risks. For example, a student could be counted as present on campus by virtue of his or her RFID tag, but be miles away before his or her disappearance were noticed. Additionally, while RFID systems may be developed for use in a school, the RFID tags may be read covertly anywhere by anyone with the right reading device.
"School districts using RFID tags to track our children without community or parental supervision is a perfect example of big-government run amuck. It's time for legislators to step in and protect the privacy rights of parents and students," Estes said.
Estes serves nearly 820,000 constituents across Senate District 30 which includes all of Archer, Clay, Cooke, Erath, Grayson, Jack, Montague, Palo Pinto, Parker, Wichita, Wise, and Young counties and parts of Collin and Denton counties.