Is it wrong to use GPS tracking services and RFID tags on people?
For quite some time now tracking devices have been widely used in monitoring the locations of inanimate objects such as parcels (that are couriered), however this is all changing in our increasingly technological world, as it is not only inanimate objects that are being monitored now.
Nowadays people are being tracked more and more by their families, especially children. One of the tracking device that has been available for the longest is called Wherify and this is a personal GPS (general positioning system) locator worn on the wrist that was first invented in 2002. Wherify was designed to protect autistic children by letting their parents know where they were.
In today’s day and age there are various methods to track people. You can use RFID (radio frequency identification) tags, personal GPS locators or GPS services on your smartphone. Mobile operators offer paid services to track your children, but there are also other companies/businesses that are offering similar services that are usually free of cost. These services are available on smartphones via applications. One such service is Life360, which had 1 million subscribers in 2010, but now has over 26 million subscribers. This is a staggering rise and is strong evidence to see that GPS tracking is becoming more and more popular.
It’s not just parents and families that are promoting the use of tracking devices, public services are also interested in using tracking devices. From as early as 2004 schools in Osaka, Japan have been tagging their students using RFID tags so that the school can check the attendance of students using sensors instead of taking registers. The tags were also used to check the location of pupils (within the school only).
I am of the view that only those with medical conditions like autism, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease should be tracked, because tracking people interferes with an individual’s right to privacy, however I am of the opinion that those with medical conditions such as the ones listed above should be tracked for their own safety. Many parents would argue that they are tracking their children for their safety, but my reply to them would be, “No, all you’re doing is infringing on their privacy, since it is very unlikely that strangers/kidnappers will assault your children or take them hostage! This means that tracking isn’t necessary and even if your child was kidnapped the kidnapper would probably be smart enough to remove the tracking device, therefore the tracking device would become useless. It is much more likely for your child to get injured in an accident than in an assault and a GPS locator would be no good in saving your child from a car crash!”
Some tracking devices such as Amber Alert GPS go way to far, because a parent using Amber Alert GPS can even listen to their children’s conversations and eavesdrop on them from any remote location and I am sure that all of you will agree that this is not on and unfair on the child. It has also been reported from survivors of domestic violence that tracking devices and surveillance on victims of domestic violence makes it much harder for them to escape.
I feel that the only category of people on whom tracking devices should be used on, except for those medically disabled, is criminals. Tracking criminals helps protect society and it is a must to track criminals under house arrest, otherwise you wouldn’t know if they’ve escaped.
All in all I would say that even though it may seem a good idea to widely use personal GPS locators and and RFID tags on people it isn’t very beneficial and is unethical to use them as they infringe on privacy, therefore tracking devices should be limited to their use on inanimate objects and on people with special circumstances (i.e. if the person is a criminal or has a medical condition due to which they may wonder off and get lost or hurt themselves).