Biochips: Safety or Subjugation?

“Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.” Revelation 13: 16-17

Are we on our way to having to wear a “mark” for identification?

Would you barcode your baby?

Microchip implants have become standard practice for our pets, but have been a tougher sell when it comes to the idea of putting them in people.

Science fiction author Elizabeth Moon last week rekindled the debate on whether it’s a good idea to “barcode” infants at birth in an interview on a BBC radio program.

“I would insist on every individual having a unique ID permanently attached — a barcode if you will — an implanted chip to provide an easy, fast inexpensive way to identify individuals,” she said on The Forum, a weekly show that features “a global thinking” discussing a “radical, inspiring or controversial idea” for 60 seconds .Moon believes the tools most commonly used for surveillance and identification — like video cameras and DNA testing — are slow, costly and often ineffective.

In her opinion, human barcoding would save a lot of time and money.

The proposal isn’t too far-fetched – it is already technically possible to “barcode” a human – but does it violate our rights to privacy?

Opponents argue that giving up anonymity would cultivate an “Orwellian” society where all citizens can be tracked.

“To have a record of everywhere you go and everything you do would be a frightening thing,” Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Daily News.

He warned of a “check-point society” where everyone carries an internal passport and has to show their papers at every turn, he said.

“Once we let the government and businesses go down the road of nosing around in our lives…we’re going to quickly lose all our privacy,” said Stanley.

There are already, and increasingly, ways to electronically track people. Since 2006, new U.S. passports include radio frequency identification tags (RFID) that store all the information in the passport, plus a digital picture of the owner.

In 2002, an implantable ID chip called VeriChip was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The chip could be implanted in a person’s arm, and when scanned, could pull up a 16 digit ID number containing information about the user.

It was discontinued in 2010 amid concerns about privacy and safety.

Still scientists and engineers have not given up on the idea.

A handful of enterprising companies have stepped into the void left by VeriChip, and are developing ways to integrate technology and man.

Biotech company MicroCHIPS has developed an implantable chip to deliver medicine to people on schedule and without injection. And technology company BIOPTid has patented a noninvasive method of identification called the “human barcode.”

Advocates say electronic verification could help parents or caregivers keep track of children and the elderly. Chips could be used to easily access medical information, and would make going through security points more convenient, reports say.

But there are also concerns about security breaches by hackers. If computers and social networks are already vulnerable to hacking and identify theft, imagine if someone could get access to your personal ID chip?

Stanley cautioned against throwing the baby out with the bathwater each time someone invents a new gadget.

“We can have security, we can have convenience, and we can have privacy,” he said. “We can have our cake and eat it too.”

Back on 11/25/10, SiliconIndia.com made this point about biochip implantation in humans:

When it comes to the use of biochips on humans, it works a little bit differently. The chip is implanted in a way where it is able to bind with your DNA. Many government agencies have been working with biochips which can be used for identification purposes. When we think of this as an invasion of privacy, we should also look at the positive side of the technology. This would be a great use to find missing children, if this technology goes as far as an implant at birth, those who have been kidnapped or missing, can be easily found. This type of implantable chip is being researched by defense departments in India and abroad in hopes to be used for soldiers, to monitor their location and relay health information if the soldier gets wounded in battle. This would be a great way to get medical data relayed of what the doctors may be dealing with before the patient ever gets to the hospital. Not only that, a biochip will make it easier to find that wounded soldier.

But there are certain areas which always lack definite explanations. You can’t value human life and you can limit his identity. It questions our morality when it comes to cloning humans and similarly we find it weird when we get ‘tagged’ by some minute chip. Whatever lies in the future for biochips, its implantation in humans still pricks our conscience.

And why is that?  Simple.  It’s that still small voice inside of us, that Divine Spark that makes us all individuals.  The thought of being tagged like an animal goes against the grain of our human spirits.

It disturbs our souls.

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