A few years ago I got involved in an effort to defeat legislation that threatened to outlaw the use of RFID technology in California.  RFID is an acronym that stands for “radio frequency identification.”  If you have an identification card that you wave in front of a reader to get into a secured building, a hotel room or even a car park, then you’ve used RFID technology and know how harmless it is and how useful it is in our everyday lives.  Hospitals use RFID tags in patient wrist bands to make sure they don’t accidentally lose track of a patient and perform surgery on the wrong person.  Amusement parks use RFID tags in wrist bands for children to help reunite them with their families if they get lost.

School districts all over the world are now using them to take attendance fast and absolutely accurately.  Here is how it works: each student ID has an RFID tag in them with a unique alphanumeric code.  When they walk into a classroom, a reader at the top of the doorway reads the unique number and the school’s computers do the rest.  It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s inexpensive, it’s safe  – and, in many school districts in the United States, it saves enormous amounts of time and money that can be better spent educating kids.

I learned what I know about RFID almost a decade ago when I was hired by a small high tech company called InCom that was marketing an RFID attendance system to schools.  They hired me to help stop legislation that would have made RFID use illegal in California by imposing unnecessary  but crushing regulations that would have rendered RFID use too difficult and expensive to use, thereby effectively banning it.  The bills were vetoed by then Governor Schwarzenegger and the effort to ban RFID technology died with the veto.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not just a hired gun. I cannot represent a client or advocate a position unless I believe in it.  Even though I am no longer advocating on behalf of RFID manufacturers, my experience gave me a strong appreciation for RFID technology and I continue to speak out on its behalf whenever the issue of its use arises.

Well, it’s happened again.  A school district in Texas has decided to adopt an RFID attendance program and some parents don’t like it.

The following link takes you to a HuffPost live video discussion that lets you see for yourself what is at the heart of many complaints about RFID use, if not what is at the heart of the problems of public education in the United States.  Let me know what you think:





I do not welcome any comments about my sloppy necktie.



  1. Yes. Yes I would. (Oysters, Paul? Blech!)

    Funny how there are references to ‘1984’, but no references to Ira Levin’s ‘This Perfect Day’.


  2. This champion of the under-dog routine is all very noble and stuff, but don’t you have paying work to do? 2 x first class return tickets to Australia aren’t just going to magically appear in your email inbox, paid for by an adoring and appreciative nation, now are they?


  3. One of the many things I like about you Paul is that you do believe in the things for which you advocate so eloquently.

    I will look at that link later … after I’ve had a few drinks. Something tells me a higher bullshit threshhold might be needed.


  4. Nice leading question at 3:30 “is you concern X, Y &Z?” “No my concern is that I’ve been coached to sound like a religious fundamentalist (reading prepared bible ch & verse to left of screen) and to back my Dad’s jihad against the school. Engaging parents on line is just like North Korea obviously”
    From my perspective The budget concerns are semi valid, the civil liberties concerns stretch credulity, the religious concerns are laughable.

    Tech appraisal.
    Good background, the best in the conversation, except maybe the host’s. Part of me hopes that it is a print on a roll-down blind and that you also have A Jamaican Beach, A Laboratory Bench and Brimstone with Sulphurous Flames and you choose between them to match the conversation. Or you just blue-screen it in, so you can appear to be underwater or on Titan.
    The flag looks like an afterthought. Perhaps you need dual flag poles, ‘Ol Glory on one and Republica la California on the other.

    More seriously:
    If you intend to do this more often the camera should be at eye level, not looking up at you, or down on you.

    Also dominant lighting seems to be from your computer screen. This makes you pale & blue as the little web-cam’s white balance can’t go that far up spectrum. The civil liberties dude’s primary lighting is the office flourocents, better, not optimal, but better.
    Perhaps consider mounting your web cam on an old desk lamp armature, just to get you further away from the screen. Or go all out and duplicate the lectern in the press room in the West Wing. Key and back lights, navy drapes (not black) and a staff make up girl.


  5. Oh and don’t wave like that. It makes you look far more creepy than you look in real life.


  6. Paul Nicholas Boylan Says:

    Cat – Yes. Oysters! On Tomales Bay. Today. With my wife.

    Melbo – BS can be multifaceted. Just watch.

    Bob – I am sincere for money. I do disingenuous, pretensive duplicity for free. It is my performance art.

    I agree about the staging and the waiving. My purpose is to get people to voluntarily come within my reach. Creepy doesn’t promote that result.

    The flag is actually there – but not as a demonstration of patriotism.


  7. I have just watched the vid (sorry for taking so long to do so). You were a pleasing counterbalance to the crazy, that’s all I can say.


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