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RFID TAGGING: Livestock and Humans

The use of RFID tagging has been used recently in Canada in place of barcode tags, it allows the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency to track and identify the animalís herd of origin, as well as trace any animal that has a known disease or illness- and with the last few years rise in Mad Cow Disease, and even the recent epidemic surrounding bird flu; may not be a bad idea. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture is even looking into developing a nationwide RFID tagging system. Even a few Wisconsin farmers are trying out these RFID tagging devices on their herds; of course, itís a voluntary program and not a mandate, yet.

However, consumers seem to be a little more concerned on the thought of tracking humans. And when one such school in a small town in California decided to make their pupils where RFID badges; parents were outraged. Although, the badges were intended by the school to serve as a safety measure, as well as simplifying the attendance system, and reduce vandalism- parentís notified the American Civil Liberties Union because they felt this was an invasion of personal privacy. As well, one parent stated that ďthere is a way to make kids safer without making them feel like a piece of inventory.Ē

Although this technology is new to the US school system, it isnít in other countries. In fact, similar devices have been tested at several schools in Japan; ironically, in this instance, the parentís were involved and most agreed with the principle behind the RFID tagging device; agreeing with school officials that these devices could prevent kidnappings and were in all a well-mean effort. And in fact, no parents objected to the RFID tagging of their children, but instead embraced the concept.

Other experts have questioned the likelihood of these devices protecting children against kidnappers at all, saying that anyone could keep track of a child, even a stranger, simply by setting up an antenna to pick up the radio waves sent out by the childís RFID tagging device. And until the security issues regarding hacking and interference are addressed, the use of widespread RFID tagging devices on humans, specifically children, should be monitored and limited.