Using iPhones to Track Students

By Casey Lynn
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

schoolThe headline to this story from a Japenese newspaper is “Aoyama Gakuin U. To Hand Out Free iPhones to Students.” I guess whether you see it that way or as “using iPhones to track students” is kind of a glass half empty or half full kind of thing. But it’s not as if they’re Santa Claus, giving away free phones as a philanthropic gesture. They’re “phasing out traditional methods of taking attendance” in favor of using the GPS tracking on iPhones to determine whether students are in school or not. Maybe they should just skip the phones altogether and start embedding in students’ hands those little RFID chips that are put into pets.

I am suddenly reminded of Cory Doctorow’s YA near-future novel Little Brother (which you can read for free), which describes a lot of fun ways that an American high school uses technology to control its students. These include gait recognition cameras, RFID tags in library books (“It was another of those legal loopholes: the courts wouldn’t let the schools track us with arphids, but they could track library books, and use the school records to tell them who was likely to be carrying which library book.”), and of course, the philanthropic gesture of providing every student with a laptop – which only runs Windows Vista4Schools, an operating system filled with spyware and keyloggers that send data to the school.

So maybe I’m being a glass half empty by finding the iPhone thing to be pretty creepy, but it’s all about baby steps. Because if you’re concerned that the government is spying on you, it’s nothing compared to what schools can get away with.

[Image Source: Flickr]

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