Chips with everything

Around twenty years ago I wrote an article about the probability that within our lifetime, all human beings would be micro chipped in order to validate their identity. The first dog microchips had been inserted in Fidos around the world already.  I foresaw this as an extended trial run, before some Smart Alec Dictator decreed that all his subjects should be similarly chipped, so that their every movement could be tracked.

I suggested that microchipping would be sold to the people as an “important enhancement of their well-being, safety and security”. The advantage of having an arm one could wave across a sensor in Tescos would be obvious; no longer the need to carry that clumsy old exchange device called cash. Instead a mere wave of the wrist would see the money removed from the wrist owners account in milliseconds.

Equally there would be no more boring filling in of forms for work or insurance, as your DNA would be stored on the microchip. Insurers would be able to see your medical history straight away and adjust your insurance to take account of this instant knowledge. Police would no longer have to take you in on suspicion. With a wrist scanner, they could match your DNA to the crime scene in seconds. Suddenly it would be an “Unfair Cop Gov!”
This Utopian world, I wrote, awaited us all, but with it might come risks, as yet unseen.

The flaw in my message then was that I did not anticipate the rate of technological development, for it has arrived now!

A Scandinavian employer is seeking to make their staff wear microchips, about the size of a grain of rice (why so large?) to gain entry to premises, computers, canteen, stores and time keeping systems.

It presently is a voluntary idea, but how long before it is compulsory?

And what are the risks? Considering the most secure systems, including the Pentagon, have been hacked repeatedly, it seems unlikely that any chip-in-the-wrist system will be as secure, leading to electronic identity theft on a grand scale.

What might be your rights as an individual when rejecting such technology? Presently when inserting a chip under the skin, it equates to an invasion of your body. No one has consent to carry out such an assault, other than a doctor or medic, for life saving reasons. Since there is no right to assault a member of staff even with consent, one should be able to reject an employer’s demand without sanction.

Even where one agrees to participate in such a scheme, the risk is that the employer might well monitor your movements in a way that is repressive, intrusive and criminal, but without your knowledge. And who might have access to the data gathered?

This technology is in its infancy (as far as we presently know!), but it might be the thin end of a very big wedge.

Instead of frying chips tonight, they might yet fry us!

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Authors: Philip Strickland

Published: 14 Nov 2018

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