Friday Requiem: Senator Wants Tracking Devices For Kids With Autism…..

Quick note for readers.  I think it’s important that I consider my back catalogue of posts to be part of the site and that they get maintained, looked after and followed up on.  So each Friday I’ll be picking a post I did from that week last year, and see if my opinions have changed, or find out how the story develops.

Last year,  in this post, I wrote the following… 

Senator Wants Tracking Devices For Kids With Autism – Disability Scoop.

A U.S. senator is asking the Justice Department to provide tracking devices to parents who wish to monitor their children with autism and other developmental disorders who wander.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., wants the U.S. Department of Justice to offer grant money to local law enforcement agencies so that they can distribute tracking devices to parents who would like the technology in order to help find their children if they go missing.

Being honest, I don’t like this. Yes, I quantify self up to the eyeballs, and yes, if I had kids I’d see very sensible reasons in favor of having drones follow them around… but I’m uneasy about tracking of an individual being prescribed by outside agency. It’s very much one thing for a guardian to say “we have this issue, so I’m going to spend (£/$)100 to get a locator becon” and another for a social worker to say “For people like your ward, we recommend this tracking becon…”

If you’d like some more general discussion on the topic… I’m inclined to point you in the direction of this paper that talks about the general uses of the data, and this paper that talks about the potential problems of using the data.

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….so now it’s time to follow up on the story.  A few things have happened.   Senator Charles Schumer went on to propose ‘Avonte’s Law’: legislation that would allocate $10 million for the program, giving interested parents free access to tracking equipment, which can be worn like a watch or even sewn into clothing.  That was in January.  In May, the bill was officially introduced on to the floor of the senate.

The opencongress site (man, I do love open democracy) has a page for the bill, officially called S. 2386. Indeed – you can read it as a pdf.

In September, the house of representatives (rather than the senate) introduced their own bill, which you can see here.

This is one of the reasons I quite like doing the Friday Requiem posts – you get to properly track the progress of issues.  I’m quite reassured by the language of the bill itself – but given that this is a Democrat Bill, and the Republications control both the Senate and the House, and that this has been one of the least productive congresses in history, I fully expect to be telling you that nothing has changed when I come back to it in 2015… 🙁


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