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Under Your Skin

Under Your Skin
By Geoff Metcalf

About three years ago I was discussing national ID cards on my radio program. Congress was fighting (and is still fighting) to get national ID cards linked to some kind of biometric tool. Biometric tools are unique individual identifiers like fingerprints, retinal scans, and DNA profiles.

I made a passing reference to the Sylvester Stallone/Wesley Snipes movie “Demolition Man.” In it, everyone in the future is required to have a sub-dermal biochip implant. The device held an individual’s entire personal history: medical, financial, health history, criminal record, etc. I noted that although it was science fiction, the technology exists NOW.

I immediately received a phone call from a listener in Berkley, Calif., Charles Ostman. Ostman informed my audience that he had worked on the government project to refine sub-dermal biochip implants. These implantable microchips are about the size of a grain of rice. No science fiction–just science fact. As it happens, I have sub-dermal biochip implants in both my dogs.

It has been “suggested” that sub-dermal biochip implants could/would assist the military in locating downed pilots. Parents could/should have them implanted in their children to aid in locating them if lost or kidnapped. If or when that estranged spouse kidnaps your child, GPS (Global Positioning Satellites) could track the child’s exact whereabouts. Currently, microchip data can only be scanned from a little more than a foot away. However, as improvements happen, the scanning distance should be increased to several feet or even yards. Scanners are cheap and, once in production, will get cheaper.

Stephan Bevan of Britain’s London Times has written an article entitled “Chips May Dip into Workplace Sanity” which began, “Big brother could soon be watching from the inside. Several British companies are consulting scientists on ways of developing microchip implants for their workers to measure their timekeeping and whereabouts. The technology, which has been proven on pets and human volunteers, would enable firms to track staff. The data could enable them to draw up estimates of workers’ efficiency and productivity.

Closer to home, the president of “DecisionSmith,” Eric Lazarus, recently queried Scan This News for an opinion on the use of biometrics technology in school cafeterias for identifying students. Reportedly, the question was “Is it better for kids to punch in an ID number, have a finger print scanned, or have their voice recognized by a computer in order to buy food off their ‘account’? What are the things we should be concerned about as we deploy cafeteria systems?”

The response was chilling. Lazarus was told he would probably decide on microchips. The rationale was that people forget passwords, and other ID devices are time-consuming. Here’s the quote: “For these and other reasons which I will get into, I’m certain you will ultimately conclude that implanted microchips are your best choice. They are the only identification technology which will both eliminate the inherent potential for errors and at the same time relieve the recipient of the inconveniences of multiple cards, memorized numbers and arcane passwords.”

“Let’s face it,” the letter continues, “ID numbers, ID cards, voice recognition, fingerscans, etc., all require considerable, time-consuming interaction with the ‘accounting device’–whatever that turns out to be. Imagine each student, for instance, having to pause upon entering school to get their finger scanned, then again when they go outside for Physical Education, another time when they came back in, and once again when they leave school at the end of the day. Add to this all the other interactions where ID is necessary, such as the lunch program, testing, counseling, field trips, ball games, after-school activities, and–well, you get the idea. All this would add hours to the school day! The implanted microchip will eliminate all this time-consuming interaction.”

Scott McDonald of Scan This News (one of the good guys, and writing satirically) noted, “A lifetime of information can be easily databased using a microchip system. All movement, transactions, and interactions can be recorded and monitored once everyone has their own unique identifier. Every detail of a person’s life will be finally accessible to authorities through the widespread use of implanted chips it must begin somewhere, and schoolchildren are the most likely candidate.”

What about obvious opposition to this Brave New World sans privacy? Here’s what Scott suggests: “OK, there’ll be some opposition at first. There’ll be those who’ll put up a small amount of resistance. But only those social misfits, kooks, and rebels with something to hide will hold out strongly. Little will they know that the very act of objecting, in itself, will suffice to ‘identify’ them as troublemakers. They can then be arrested and force-chipped as part of the booking process. Besides, most Americans–after they’ve been reminded of all benefits and services they will sacrifice if they refuse–will soon acquiesce. This is how it worked when Congress enacted laws to coerce parents into numbering their children at birth. A few grumbled for a short while. But, once the threat of no longer being able to claim their children on tax returns set in, they got right in line down at the Social Security Administration and had their children numbered.”

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