Tech and policy: tracking students in schools; Occupy protester and tweets

We’re back to our oft-visited intersection, tech and policy:

• Next week in Texas comes a trial over whether a student must comply with a school’s attendance-tracking program that involves wearing a microchip-implanted badge, according to the Wall Street Journal. Andrea Hernandez, a 15-year-old student of magnet school John Jay Science and Engineering Academy, has filed a lawsuit saying that wearing the badge would be submitting to a secular authority, which is against her religion. She is an evangelical Christian. The school is reportedly using the tracking program because funding is tied to attendance. The case could have broader implications as more and more schools begin to use tracking chips and similar technology.

• It looks like the Occupy Wall Street protester who was fighting to keep some of his tweets private on free-speech grounds will go to trial this week. The Guardian reported that writer Malcolm Harris had expected to be sentenced for time served Friday after he was arrested during the protest in New York last year. Instead, the judge withdrew his plea deal.

After fighting against releasing the tweets requested by prosecutors who contend Harris knew protesting on the Brooklyn Bridge was illegal, Twitter in September turned over the requested information. (See Twitter, free speech and the tweets of an Occupy protester.) However, the tweets remained under seal. They could be made public at the trial this week.




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  • Dewey Finn

    I can’t read the article, as it’s behind the WSJ paywall, but per your summary, her objection is that “wearing the badge would be submitting to a secular authority, which is against her religion.” That’s ridiculous; we live in a secular society and are always subject to secular authority.

  • Vernon

    Regarding the badges I believe they do serve a legitimate purpose. As long as it is within the school grounds for the purposes of tracking attendance I don’t think there is a problem here.

    Regarding the tweets of an Occupy Wall St. protestor, I believe his tweets are fair game in court if they were public. If his tweets were made to be private then that’s gray area. I would think you would have to have some sort of probable cause that would implicate the tweets as part of the crime. For example the person had prior tweets promoting unlawful behavior. Otherwise I don’t think the prosecution should be allowed to go on a fishing expedition.