back to article ‘Anonymous’ takes down Texan RFID-tracking school

Activist group Anonymous, or persons using its insignia and name, claim to have taken down the website of the US schools that have made it compulsory for students to wear RFID tags. Andrea Hernandez, a sophomore student at the John Jay High School's Science and Engineering Academy in San Antonio, last week refused to wear the …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Some unknown individual, claims to be 'Anonymous', claims to have 'taken down' a website.

    This is news because...?

    (Even if the claims are accurate, hardly newsworthy if you are over 14 - imo, of course).

    1. Anomalous Cowturd

      Double yawn...

      The first Twatter posting was at 11:41 AM - 23 Nov 12.

      Is this a time zone thing, or time warp?

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: Yawn

      If they claim to be 'Anonymous', then basically they've got as good a right as anyone to be called by that name.

      That's how 'Anonymous' works, by design. It's not a group, it's more like a flag that anyone can pick up and drop at will, whenever they feel like it.

      Granted, taking down a school's website is hardly streets-red-with-the-blood-of-oppressors revolution, but it's the sort of thing that would, at least briefly, attract the attention of the school's authorities (if not anyone else), so there's an outside chance it might actually have a worthwhile effect. I, for one, applaud the effort.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Smash the schools. Like the Taliban is doing.

        we dont need no education

        1. James O'Brien
          Thumb Up

          Re: Smash the schools. Like the Taliban is doing.

          We don’t need no thought control

          No dark sarcasm in the class room

          Teachers leave those kids alone

          Hey, teachers! Leave those kids alone!

          There finished it for you :)

          1. Thomas 4
            Black Helicopters

            Re: Smash the schools. Like the Taliban is doing.

            "We don't need no thought control"

            No but you're damn well going to get it anyway.

        2. Tim99 Silver badge

          Re: Smash the schools. Like the Taliban is doing.


          I don't know if you were being sarcastic, or not, but many educated people write the abbreviated form of "do not" with an apostrophe.

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

            Re: Re: Smash the schools. Like the Taliban is doing.

            Tim99, many pedants use the "Pedantic grammar nazi alert" icon when they fail to get the joke.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Smash the schools. Like the Taliban is doing.

          Defacing a website is not quite the same as putting a bullet into a kids head is it?


          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Or do you mean, oxymoron?

      2. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Re: Re: Yawn

        "'s the sort of thing that would, at least briefly, attract the attention of the school's authorities....." OK, now stop for one moment and try to actually think what the response will be. Do you seriously think the school will just suddenly drop all plans for RFID cards? Of course not, they have already invested in the tech and have a back-end system (catering, etc) dependent on it. Instead, more money will be wasted on security reviews, security upgrades, and police investigations into this skiddie's attack, all paid out of local taxpayers' money. On the other hand, your skiddie "hero" will lap up any attention and set about looking for more (pointless) targets to fire his (downloaded) scripts at, with associated costs to more taxpayers, before he gets jammed up and locked up. Who wins? No-one.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yawn

        "That's how 'Anonymous' works, by design. It's not a group, it's more like a flag that anyone can pick up and drop at will, whenever they feel like it."

        Thank you. But I do in fact know that. As a direct result, Anonymous are childish, incoherent and inconsistent in their demands and their actions.

        "so there's an outside chance it might actually have a worthwhile effect. I, for one, applaud the effort."

        The only effect it will likely have is to get some idiot (likely a kid) locked up. You call that worth supporting? I don't.

        1. veti Silver badge

          Re: Yawn

          @Mike Hock: Yes, of course if you view Anonymous as a group then "they" appear "childish, incoherent and inconsistent". That's because it's not a group.

          Analogy: when there's a movie in which aliens devastate and oppress humans, and then a movie in which humans do the same to aliens (think 'Independence Day' vs 'Avatar' or 'District 9'), do you accuse Hollywood of being "incoherent"?

          Who do you think will be locked up? The kid who launched the attack? - OK, first off - proportion check. Even if they can track down the kid, prosecute, and convict them, the worst they'll get is a maximum of six months, which might be enough to make them reconsider the ethics of DDOSing. And since each step of that process - tracking, prosecuting, convicting - is fraught with the possibility of expensive failure, it's unlikely that anyone will bother.

          Even if they do, in the most extreme scenario: the school still has to stand up in court and explain - to a Texas jury, no less - why they're so eager to violate a good Baptist girl's religious convictions. How do you think that will work out for them?

    3. Alex C

      Re: Yawn

      Mostly because they only took down the website.

      A hacking group with (on occasion) some decent credentials, take on a challenge worth the effort and they do what? Take down the website and write a nasty message on it? So what - If they had any gumption at all they'd have taken down the RFID system instead.

      Anonymous - you claim some prowess - flex that muscle rather than this shambles of a protest - sorry but taking down a website isn't impressive unless it's the website of an ISP or similarly tech-savvy outfit.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will they take down my place of work too? We have to wear RFID badges at all times too.

    Oh wait studying isn't work is it, it's supposed to be "fun" especially the exams.

    1. Ed Vim

      There's a very distinct difference between any school environment and a workplace, equating the two because you have to wear a RFID badge is puzzling. An adult not being able to determine the difference between a student/teacher/staff relationship and an employee/employer relationship even more so.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC 01:14

      Given that I have no idea what you do, I can't assess whether there is sensible justification for this.

      Assuming there isn't though, I, and I'm sure many others, would appreciate it if you named the company so we don't waste our time applying to work there.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Studying isn't optional. that is the point... I have a choice whether to go to where I work, and they don't actually track me with my RFID tag, it is used to let me pass through security barriers, and while I am sure entry/exit is logged, there is no motive other than security...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Exit/Entry is/can be used for tracking

        We have a micromanaging senior manager who treats his staff like dirt, pores over the access logs religiously to when people are in what building zone.

        Forget the crap pay, he's the biggest downward influence on morale

        1. Fatman

          Re: ...he's the biggest downward influence on morale

          Then perhaps, he should have a "run-in" with your BOFH; a judicious use of a cattle prod might cause him to "lighten up".

          Watching him get jolted may just IMPROVE morale.

      2. Badvok

        "there is no motive other than security..."

        And of course we, and especially the yanks, have no need for security in schools, it's not like there's ever any form of violence in schools.

        1. Ru

          "we, and especially the yanks, have no need for security in schools, it's not like there's ever any form of violence in schools"

          I hear that prisons make strong efforts to keep tabs on the location of their inmates, and have a strong interest in security. I'm sure this is why there is never any form of violence in prisons.

  3. tempemeaty
    Big Brother

    Human dignity

    People are not shelf stock to counted and tagged. People are not cattle to be ear tagged and tracked. Human indignity of that! That schools districts authority figures are abusive and that school girl was right to say no to being tagged and tracked. Now if somebody strikes back at the abuse to bad. Abuse is a two lane road. That tagging needs to be stopped right now!

    1. Badvok

      Re: Human dignity

      "That tagging needs to be stopped right now!"

      Yes, we don't care about the security of our children when they are at school, please let the shootings continue unabated!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Human dignity

        "please let the shootings continue unabated"

        So how does a small coil of wire in a plastic case put an end to high school shooting then genius? If someone is determined to exact revenge for a slight that most of us would simply brush off then they will find a way to make it happen. You already crossed the line when you packed the gun in your school bag, you're not going to worry about where they find you randomly shooting into a crowd of classmates.

        So you're thinking that the second psycho-boy starts shooting his classmates, they can lock down the area around him by denying the cards on doors? Bollocks! The first thing to do it unsecure the entire area to allow others to escape and to ensure the shooter doesn't feel confined and blow his brains out, if allowed free he may try to escape at which point he can be wounded and/or caught.

        Tagging kids is getting them used to to idea, it's madated at govenrment level to prepare us all for the day they insert the RFID in the back of your neck at birth. Get kids ready for being tracked and tagged from an early age they won't be so militant about their rights when they get to adulthood, they will simply be docile pelbs simply accepting that that's the way it has always been.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Re: Human dignity

        Your an idiot. period. RFID has NOTHING to do with "security of children". How the hell is an RFID device gonna protect a kid from being shot or, the latest craze, bullied? I guarantee that if this is dug into more, you will find someone using tax payer money to pay someone else they know a shit load of money for useless technology and they are probably getting a kickback for doing it. Or, and this I believe to be true above all else, it's some moron in control wanting more control.

        I said this once, I'll say it again, there is a hell of a lot better things to spend money on pertaining to education than tracking student location. If the school is so bad to warrant security, they could have spent half of the money and upgraded other things in case of a possible threat. The other half could have went to making education better or giving teachers better pay.

        Most students aren't bad. The few that are, get rid of them. Don't make taxpayers and others suffer because you don't have the balls or the brains to do a job.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Human dignity

      @Tempemeaty - It is a legal requirement of a school to take a register and to make sure that the appropriate pupils/staff are allowed into the building and no-one else. How do you suggest that is done, without having people listed and tracked in some way?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Human dignity

        again, another idiot. Hey, I got an idea! Why not "stop them at the gate!

        When I was in High School many many many years ago, we didn't have RFID or any other device tracking our location. If someone was doing something they weren't suppose to be doing, like cutting class, they got caught.

        If you were found outside the class and was seen, you better have a pass or you went to the principle.

        If you cut class, An absence was reported by the teacher and the office looked into it. you were called out on it.

        As far as cutting all day, that was reported as an absence. Your parents would know about it.

        yeah, the have a legal obligation, but again, a RFID tag is going to do NOTHING to prevent unlawful entry, or if a student decides to cut, he/she simply doesn't show up.

        Access to the correct people and places is one thing, tracking students every whereabouts is another.


  4. Unicornpiss

    I agree with the spirit of this

    If someone doesn't speak up and rebel, we will continue marching towards a more Orwellian world day by day. But I sincerely hope this was an isolated individual or splinter group that took down this school. Because if it is Anonymous en masse, it's like the group from the Ocean's 11 movie knocking off a convenience store. It's well beneath their abilities and a waste of energy for the group that (rightfully) brought Sony to its knees...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I agree with the spirit of this

      > It's well beneath their abilities

      Running a script requires little to no ability. They are not "Ocean's 11" taking down the bad guy, they are your common street thug who attempts to bully and intimidate anybody who they disagree with. Knocking off a convenience store would be a step up in abilities for these skiddies.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I agree with the spirit of this


      "If someone doesn't speak up and rebel, we will continue marching towards a more Orwellian world day by day"

      I don't like the idea of ubiquitous surveillance any more than most people do, but DDOSing really isn't any kind of counter argument to anything. Protest perhaps, but even then, arguably an ill-informed protest.

      The way I see it, a legitimate protest has to have boundaries and rules. No boundaries and no rules then you are inviting anarchy to the shindig and no individual of sane disposition believes that anarchy is, of itself, any value. Argument needs to be backed by coherency and consistency. Something Anonymous, by it's very nature, lacks.

      "It's well beneath their abilities and a waste of energy for the group that (rightfully) brought Sony to its knees"

      I would not be so hasty to build that particular pedestal. It's a fact of life that, your 'right' is always going to be someone else's 'wrong'.

      Convince me (and I am stand here to be convinced)...

      1) Why should your (in a generic, not a personal sense) opinion always hold as truer than that of your antagonist(s)?

      2) Why should I believe that illegal actions, and ones that at times pose some risk to members of the general public, are a legitimate form of protest? (As in legitimate everywhere and not just in the context of 'Anonymous').

      Give me an adequate answer and I'll consider changing my personal position.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We dont need no education

    We dont need no web site either!

  6. Mondo the Magnificent

    It was probably an easy hack...

    .. as the "Anonymous" members attend the schools that were targetted....

  7. westlake

    John Jay High

    The Northside district of San Antonio has 112 schools and 100,000 students. The middle school and high school in the RFID badge pilot program 4,200 students.,San+Antonio,+TX&cid=0,0,4692771767847319479&ei=RUi0ULfFEKTU0gHO2IGYDQ&ved=0CH4Q_BIwAA

    The school is about three city blocks long.

    It fronts on a four lane highway zoned mixed commercial and light industrial.

    Five tennis courts, Two baseball fields. Two soccer fields. One football stadium.

    John Jay is a STEM magnet school. Parents send their kids here expecting academic rigor, a favorable student-teacher ratio, a strict code of behavior, and a safe and secure environment. In a school this size that is quite a challenge,

    In our state, even a parent doesn't have unrestricted access to a public school or freedom of movement within a public school during school hours.

    1. Bert 1
      Thumb Up

      Re: John Jay High

      That's the same as our entire country :-)

      1. Bert 1

        Re: John Jay High

        I'm talking about the unrestricted access thing, not the size of a supertanker thing.

    2. mamsey

      Re: John Jay High

      Whoa, looks like a prison, maybe there's a reason for the tags!

      1. Munchausen's proxy

        Re: John Jay High

        "Whoa, looks like a prison, maybe there's a reason for the tags!"

        No, it was fairly typical of high-school construction at the time it was built (1967), and not really unpleasant to attend. (that was my school, but long before the SEA was created).

        I suspect (and hope) that the Southern Baptists in the area will be suffering great cognitive dissonance over this -- support the student, with her somewhat insane Biblical interpretation of the RFID as evil, or support the administration under the theory of 'Obey' and 'Don't question authority' that they believe in so deeply.

        Personally, whether RFID is a good idea or not, whether the student is being an idiot or not, I'm on her side just for standing up for something and following through. The involvement of external script-kiddies is not helpful to anyone though.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: John Jay High

      I'd be glad that in the event of a fire people didnt get killed looking for my kids who were there at registraton then skipped out.

      The Orwellian against the safety factor would be great and if the Twin Towers were kitted out with this tech we'd have accurate not guesswork estimates of how many were still inside.

      Why is it that something which could help keep the kids safe (think of the children) is so reviled? they only track them ON CAMPUS.

      Bet when your kid turns up dead doing a drug deal outside the gates you'll be first to whinge about the school not watching them more closely

      some people are twats just for the sake of it

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: John Jay High

        "I'd be glad that in the event of a fire people didnt get killed looking for my kids who were there at registraton then skipped out."

        So you think your kids will take their RFID tags with them when they skip? Rather than stick the tags in their lockers when they got into school and then skip?

        The court filing from the girl who was booted for refusing to wear the tag asserts that other students were also refusing to wear their tags and they were not expelled. It was also asserted that there was no mandate to wear the tags in the school rules or the student handbook.

        These tags don't stop people being on campus. They don't protect the kids. They don't do anything to prove the tag is on the right kid, or even on someone who is supposed to be at school. You need Mk1eyeball for that.

  8. Gray

    Up the homeland security ...

    One's federal ID # tattooed just above the wrist on the left arm, with an RFID implant at the base of one's skull in the soft flesh behind the neck. Good citizens will comply, thus avoiding possible misidentification as terrorist infiltrators or home-grown anarchists.

    It also helps identify who was driving the car that blew through the red light intersection at 85 mph Friday night, confirming the intersection camera capture.

    Hi-tech domestic surveillance. Gotta love it, dearie. Gettin' them school kiddies used to the idea early on is a step in the right direction, right?

    1. Mako

      Re: Up the homeland security ...

      It's nothing new, you know. It's just that tech makes it cheaper and easier.

      When I was in elementary school in Ft. Lauderdale, the police came in one day to give one of their "community talks" or whatever they were called back in the 70s. As a special treat, we were allowed to be fingerprinted! On official cards, with our names on them! What fun we had!

      When we were done, the cards were put in a police officer's bag. I'm sure that he was taking them back to the station to be securely destroyed of course. No way were they kept on record.

      1. Fatman

        Re: No way were they kept on record.

        How do you know they were NOT???

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Script kiddies

    Off to prison where they will get a real education. You just can't fix stupid. Anonymous to learn they ain't so anonymous after all.

  10. ukgnome

    I wonder if the girl that has sparked this pseudo outrage has a phone? Or does she wear a tin-foil hat as part of her religious beliefs?

  11. Winkypop Silver badge

    Religious? Mark of the beast? RFIDs?

    What's the problem, doesn't the great sky elf know exactly where you are all the time?

  12. Unicornpiss

    I have a RFID badge at work too...

    ...and every time I go into one of the areas that requires it to unlock the door, the location and a picture of me pop up on a monitor in two different guard stations. I should know, as maintaining the software that runs this is part of my duties. But I am not tracked everywhere I go in the building, including restroom breaks, etc. The difference in freedom/privacy between using an RFID key and being tracked every minute with it should be obvious...

    1. Fatman

      Re: The difference in freedom/privacy between using an RFID key and being tracked...

      Except when some Nazi decides to abuse the 'system'.

      We too, have RFID badges for entry/exit and as part of time 'clock' system. One micromanagingmangling executive decided to install detectors in an attempt to "cut down on unauthorized breaks", and the backlash over that stunt cost that executive his job. There was a lot of joy at WROK PALCE the day when he was frog marched out by security.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The difference in freedom/privacy between using an RFID key and being tracked...

        "Except when some Nazi decides to abuse the 'system'."

        No need need for 'Nazi's' if you live in the UK. We have parliamentarians to systematically abuse 'the system'.

  13. Scott Pedigo

    I get the security thing: if I were a parent (I'm not), then I'd want some assurance that my kids were in school, not off playing hooky. When I was in middle school, there was a home room role call, so you at least had to show up. There, and in high school, my teachers of individual subjects sometimes marked down attendance and in any case would have noticed if I weren't in class. We weren't supposed to leave the school grounds during the day, but some students did anyway, including me on occasion. Many drove to a nearby Macs rather than suffer what the school cafeteria dished out, which was relatively harmless. Others got up to various sorts of no good.

    So if I had kids, yeah, I'd want the school to keep a good eye on them, even given the fact that its a case of do-as-I-say and not-as-I-did. The world seems a little more dangerous now than it did when I was in school. There are more drugs available, both varieties and amounts, kids using them at younger ages, and there are more incidents involving gangs, guns, and mobbed kids going on rampages. We had underage alcohol use, the occasional weed. Now you've got meth, crack, ectasy, other and designer drugs in the mix, not to mention date-rape drugs.

    Does that justify tracking kids with RFID chips instead of just taking attendance, having some hall monitors to challenge wandering students, and maybe a couple of school security guards keeping an eye on the entrances and parking lots? Maybe, but I don't like it. It does smack of Big Brother, and that cannot simply be rationalized away.

    Will it get kids used to being tracked, as a stepping stone to the government taking away ever more of our right to privacy? Maybe, but it might do the reverse. It might engender new skills at evading surveillance. Kids will be swapping cards, putting tin-foil around them, hacking the computers, and what-not. They'll just learn new ways to get up to no-good.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So Anonnymous DDOSes another irrelevant website. Big deal.

    Now if they had actually taken down the tracking system itself, rather than an unrelated website (which anyone and his dog can pwn) THAT would be both quality activism and worth reporting.

    Time to step up the game Anonnymous!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RFID Tracking is an abuse, RFID Entry Control is not!

    I am in the business of providing access and security systems to various State and Federal entities and I can tell you that the officials in most Northeast US schools I deal with would consider the tracking part of RFID very disturbing. However, I work in Upstate New York where those working in school districts are resoundingly Democratic rather than in South Texas where teachers are typically paid poverty wages and have no rights.

    If the teachers have no rights, how could you think the students would have any?

    Big Brother is alive and well most everywhere though. You probably did not know that you give up your right to privacy when you signed up for "Easy Pass" or any other RFID toll billing systems but New York State and others are tracking where you travel with that system.

    Your passport has RFID in it as do your company badges. Who's to say that the "Easy Pass" system does not see those RFID chips also?????

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: RFID Tracking is an abuse, RFID Entry Control is not!

      She's not trying to leave the damn country or drive across state, she's trying to walk to a classroom. Is it really that important to someone in the school to know if she stopped ti take a piss? What kind of relevant information could they possibly gather from that?

      Control freak:

      "hmmmm. her average piss time is 3.2 minutes, but on tuesday, she took 7.8 minutes.....

      she must be up to something..... put her on the list of people to watch."


      "but sire, she could have know, going number two......and she is a female, she might be having.....female issues.....during this time...."

      Control freak:

      You disagree with my assessment! Get out! Your "EXPELLED!"

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    She has a right to object

    And the school has the right to suspend her. If she feels strongly that an RFID is an issue with her religion then she probably will need to join the Mormans and isolate herself from society.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Re: She has a right to object

      ANOTHER idiot spouting off crap and hiding behind the "Anonymous Coward"

      First, they didn't suspend her, they expelled her. There is a difference. Suspend could be anything from going to school but being put in a room with other offenders for a certain amount of time. Or it could be out of school for a determined amount of time. Generally, first time offenders get small suspensions aka, detention, in school suspension, or a few days out of school suspension. Only repeat offenders or the most horrendous acts they use for expulsion. Basically, you really got fuck up or fuck up over and over before you get expelled.

      exactly like going to jail verses going to prison.

      When you are expelled, that's it, you repeat the grade unless the school board agrees to send you to another school.

      This was no slap on the wrist for disagreeing with their policy, this was get the fuck out if you don't like it.

      hell, I'll throw another one out for you, What if it was some student with influence, say star quartback or someones kid who is very influential in the city....or with lot's of money. Don't think the punishment would have been the same......

      Hey, I never heard anyone stating during ANY shooting or terrorist attack that "If we woulda just had those RFID devices, this would NEVER have happened."

      And as far as religion and becoming a morman, When the hell did someone need to switch religion simply because they agree/disagree with something that someone imposes on them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Taylor 1

        Get your facts straight.

        The school suspended her in September. The school offered to remove the chip but she would still have to wear the badge. She refused so on the 19th November the school gave her an ultimatum - wear the badge (minus the chip) or find another school (expelled her). On the 21st November a court issued a temporary restraining order, for the expulsion and suspension, until after hearings about the matter next week.

        So whilst the badge might have a chip in it, the girl is refusing to wear the badge with or without the chip so the RFID chip is incidental.

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