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Flesh and chips – RFID

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Monday January 9, 2006 )

Ugh, I really don’t know what to make of this. It seems that some people are having RFID chips implanted under their skin – by choice.

RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) chips are already widely in use, usually to enable data to be transmitted for the purposes of tracking or relaying other product information. RFID chip technology is being used extensively in pets as an alternative to registration tags. There’s also much talk of RFID chips being embedded in currency to assist in tracking criminal activity – or so “they” tell us :).

People are now chipping themselves with RFID’s for all sorts of tasks – automatic logging into computers, opening locked doors and other tasks that require identification verification.

The base hardware technology is very cheap, just a couple of dollars for the chip and around 50 bucks for the scanner. The chips being implanted in humans are around the size of a grain of rice and have a lifespan of around 100 years. Imagine that, after you are dead, you could be monitored in your grave – not really exciting stuff I guess.

It may be just that I’ve watched the entire series of the X-Files (several times), but I would really hate to see this practice of chipping humans become mainstream. If Scully and Mulder thought it was an evil thing, then I believe them :).

It is bad enough to have to carry around all sorts of identification to satisfy the State in order to perform daily functions in our society, or to have a zillion passwords to keep parasites out of my various accounts, but the idea of storing that info *in* my body, regardless of how small or safe the chip is, is just …. unnatural. The fact that the chips can be read up to thirty feet away, possibly without consent, is even worse. If they can be read at 30 feet now, what distance will be possible in just a few years?

The mind boggles at the privacy and security implications of this technology as it develops. When it comes to technology, remember that whatever a human can create, another human can crack. Also, the concept of being tracked by satellite springs to mind. Have you seen the images that can be generated by satellites these days? Try Google Earth. I’ve seen images of a car outside my house from *space* – and they are just the pics available to the public.

If I want to get away from “civilization” and go feral, then that’s exactly what I wish to do – unobserved. Of course, I guess my ego is just coming into play here – after all, why would the Government be interested if I were taking a whizz or running around naked in the great outdoors ;). Anyway, you get the idea of the potential dangers of this technology.

Brrrr… freaky stuff. It’s not just chips embedded under the skin that causes me concern, it’s the fact that RFID technology is so cheap, these chips can be added to many products – everyday items. It’s a marketers dream and a paranoiac’s nightmare. When it comes to privacy, there’s a line – and I believe if corporations and governments have their way, they’ll well and truly cross it with RFID.

As someone involved with marketing, I can well understand the potential of this technology in relation to business. RFID tags will continue to function on products once they are taken home from a store. I’m imagining marketing “commando” teams cruising neighborhoods scanning for their products; whether it’s a TV or can of beans. With that sort of information, marketing departments could easily determine market saturation in various suburbs or identify “loyal” customers. Imagine the data matching capabilities!

It’s one thing to be tracked across the Internet while I have my computer on; but once it’s off, it’s off. It’s quite another thing altogether to have the products in my house broadcasting their presence 24/7 without my consent.

RFID chips, while having positive uses, could also be the technology that makes George Orwell’s book “1984” seem like a whimsical tale. The more that we accept the usage of these devices without questioning the technology right now, the easier it will be for corporations and government to introduce them as a means of “creating engaging shopping experiences”, “improving the quality of our life” or “curtailing terrorism” in the not so distant future – whether under our skin or not – at the expense of what little privacy we have left.

Learn more about RFID chips. You may be surprised at where and how RFID technology is being used already.

By the way, excuse the RFID advertising on the right hand side of this page. Contextual advertising is pretty “smart”, but by no means gets it right all the time :). I was sort of hoping that it would generate stuff like “learn the shocking truth about RFID” – lol.

What are your thoughts on RFID chips?


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