Should we use RFID chips to monitor Brown Act compliance by our elected officials?

Based on a July 21st My report by Todd Lewanvar I thought it might be worth a “pilot program” to use RFID chip technology to keep tabs on our local elected officials. As many readers question their decision making this might be a fun experiment. Keeping an eye on little brother before he or she become “big” brother.
As much as this might be fun I sadly cannot support it as explained below.

“The Ralph M. Brown Act governs meetings conducted by local legislative bodies, such as boards of supervisors, city councils and school boards. The Act represents the Legislature’s determination of how the balance should be struck between public access to meetings of multi-member public bodies on the one hand and the need for confidential candor, debate, and information gathering on the other.” The PURPOSE AND SCOPE goes on to say that “the courts have stated, the purpose of the Brown Act is to facilitate public participation in local government decisions and to curb misue of the democratic process by secret legislation by public bodies.”

In simple terms the majority of any Board cannot meet in private to cut deals on pending activity. That includes via the telephone or emails. I am not mentioning Closed Sessions but the same majority is prohibited from getting their peers to make any back room or off site deals. With certain guidelines they can attend meetings such as the League of Cities. The sad part is that these meetings often include most of the members of a city. As such the League must open them to the public. Having attended a few I can report that they are not very eager to have you in attendance, charge a very big sum for the average citizen, while our elected’s eat from the public troth. Further, the League hosts don’t even leave an extra chair at your city’s table where you can sit with the members of your city council.

Back to the RFID chip which triggered this post.

CitiWatchers is a provider of surveillance equipment. They have implanted microchips into the forearms of two employees. These devices are the length of two grains of rice. I must go on record to say that we had similar chips made by VeriChip implanted into both of our dogs around 10 years ago.

The report mentions that “two states, Wisconsin and North Dakota, recently passed laws prohibiting the forced implantation of microchips in humans. Others–Ohio, Oklahoma, Colorado and Florida–are studying similar legislation. In May, Oklahoma legislators were debating a bill that would authorize microchip implants in people imprisoned for violent crimes. Many felt it would be a good way to monitor felons once released from prison. But other lawmakers raised concerns. Rep John Wright worried, “Apparently, we’re going to permanently put the mark on these people. Rep Ed Cannaday found the forced microchipping on inmates “invasive–We are going down that slippery slope.”

And he is correct. We should not open that Pandora’s box. I wonder how many readers are aware of the fact that these chips are already imbedded in “Michelin tires, library books, passports, work uniforms, luggage, and, unbeknownst to many consumers, on a host of individual items, from Hewlett Packard printers to Sanyo TVs, at Wal-Mart and Best Buy.”

Technology is a wonderful tool. However, my first concern is our heading down the road to what ACLU Director of Technology and Liberty Barry Steinhardt called a “surveillance society.” He is quoted to say that “we’re really on the verge of creating a surveillance society in America, where every movement, every action–some would even claim, our very thoughts–will be tracked monitored, recorded and correlated.”
Take note. This is one of the RARE times I will agree with anything being opposed by the ACLU.

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