I wasn't sure what I was going to write for my 500th post, in fact I hadn't even gone through the planning stage but this morning on page 13 of the Sydney Morning Herald (text below - no link provided as Fairfax requires subscription) I read something that fills me with utter horror; something so hideous that I simply have to write something about it.
First, something from The Guardian (UK) 24-10-2005:
The US Food and Drug Administration has given permission for humans to receive implantable electronic tags for computerised medical information. People may now join 1 million pets, many cattle herds and assorted wildlife that already carry implantable chips, but there are questions about the usefulness and security of such a system.
A small number of people have had the chips implanted on an experimental basis, but the FDA decision paves the way for widespread medical use, said Applied Digital Solutions, the company that makes VeriChips and received approval for its device.
Under the implant procedure a doctor administers a local anaesthetic to a patient, then uses a special injector to place the rice-sized ID capsule under the collarbone or into the triceps muscle on the arm. The injector can also remove the device.
The chip itself contains no patient information, just 256 characters of memory, a radio transceiver and a tiny antenna. A scanner checks the code and then pulls up patient data through the internet, displaying it on a computer screen. Records could be anything from simple warnings about drug allergies - analogous to a medical ID bracelet - to complete medical histories. The records could be updated like any other computer record on central networks, without touching the patient.
The FDA's approval, made public on Wednesday, was needed because the device gains access to medical records. Versions of the chip are already in use in people to provide identity codes that unlock doors at secure facilities, among other uses.
Nearly 200 people working in Mexico's Attorney-General's office have been implanted with chips that grant access to secure areas containing sensitive documents. Club hoppers in Barcelona, Spain, use the microchip much like a smart card to speed drink orders and payment.
A spokeswoman for the FDA, Kathleen Quinn, said the agency looked primarily at medical safety issues, such as the potential for infection and irritation at the site of the injection.
Critics say there are economic and privacy concerns. "I don't see how it can be effective until all emergency vehicles and centres have the readers," said Richard Smith, a privacy and internet security consultant based in Boston. In addition, the medical profession would have to agree to standards for the storage and access of computerised records, something doctors have resisted.
"There's a lot of infrastructure that needs to be put into place," Mr Smith said.
The second concern is that because the chip is small and limited in memory it has relatively little security. Applied Digital cracked the pet market by donating scanners to hundreds of animal shelters and veterinary clinics. In the 15 years since, it has sold 50,000 such scanners. Initially it plans to donate 200 scanners, which cost $US650 ($900), to US trauma centres.
The chip costs about $US50 for pets, and costs for humans should be $US150 to $200, a company spokesman said.
Scary isn't it?
The Sydney Morning Herald (Aus) 23-02-2006:
A COMPANY in the US called CityWatcher has implanted radio transmitters into the arms of two of its workers. The implants ensure that only they can enter the strongroom. Apparently it is "the first known case in which US workers have been tagged electronically as a way of identifying them".
The transmitters are tiny (about the size of a grain of rice), cheap ($200 and falling fast), safe and stable. Without being maintained or replaced, they can identify someone for many years. They are injected, with a local anaesthetic, into the upper arm. They require no power source, as they become active only when scanned. There are no technical barriers to their wider deployment.
The company that makes these "radio frequency identification tags", VeriChip, says they "combine access control with the location and protection of individuals". The chips can also be implanted in hospital patients, especially children and the mentally ill. When doctors want to know who they are and what their medical history is, they simply scan them in. This, apparently, is "an empowering option to affected individuals". For a while, a school in California toyed with the idea of implanting the chips in all its pupils.
A tag such as this has a maximum range of a few metres. But another implantable device emits a signal that allows someone to be found or tracked by satellite. The patent notice says it can be used to locate the victims of kidnapping or people lost in the wilderness. There are, in other words, plenty of legitimate uses for implanted chips. This is why they bother me. A technology whose widespread deployment, if attempted now, would be greeted with horror, will gradually become unremarkable. As this happens, its purpose will begin to creep.
At first the tags will be more widely used for workers with special security clearance. No one will be forced to wear one; no one will object.
Then hospitals - and a few in the US are already doing this - will start scanning their unconscious or incoherent patients to see whether they have a tag. Insurance companies might start to demand that vulnerable people are chipped.
The armed forces will discover that they are more useful than dog tags for identifying injured soldiers or for tracking troops who are lost or have been captured by the enemy. Prisons will soon come to the same conclusion. Then sweatshops in developing countries will begin to catch on. Already the overseers seek to control their workers to the second; determining when they clock on, when they visit the toilet, even the number of hand movements they perform. A chip makes all this easier. The workers will not be forced to have them, any more than they are forced to have sex with their bosses; but if they don't accept the conditions, they don't get the job.
After that, it surely won't be long before asylum seekers are confronted with a similar choice: you don't have to accept an implant, but if you refuse, you can't stay in the country.
I think it will probably stop there. But it will become an increasingly acceptable means of tracking and identifying people who could be a danger to themselves, or who could be at risk of sudden illness or disappearance, or who are otherwise hard for companies or governments to control.
As it is with all such intrusions on our privacy, it won't be easy to put your finger on exactly what's wrong with this technology. It won't really amount to a new form of control, as all the people who accept the implants will already be subject to monitoring or tracking of one kind or another. It will always be voluntary, at least to the extent that anything the state or our employers want us to do is voluntary. But there is something utterly revolting about it. It is another means by which the barriers between ourselves and the state, ourselves and the corporation, ourselves and the machine are broken down.
In that tiny capsule we find the paradox of 21st-century capitalism: a political system that celebrates choice, autonomy and individualism above all other virtues demands that choice, autonomy and individualism are perpetually suppressed.
You can probably guess where I'm going with this. If not can I remind you of something that was written circa 1940 years ago.
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
- Revelation 13:16—18
Now for the crux, the rub and the point.
The technology currently exists to implant humans with microchips to control their actions. Not that it might happen but is currently occuring with full permission of Governments. What I have to say to both Christians and Non-Christians is slightly different, however, we should all be both scared and terrified.
Indulge me a minute on a subject of which my hatred burns; this is the M7. A motorway you ask? This motorway was built using public funds and transferred to a private consortium for its upkeep and maintenance. For this they charge a toll for the priveledge for using the road. This toll is administered and collected by electronic means by a small device called an e-Tag. There are no cash toll-booths on the road and if you do not have an e-Tag there is either a hideous fine, an increase in the toll of something that has to be arranged earlier.
This was my money as a taxpayer being used to build a road which I by virtue of the fact that I do not have an e-Tag am precluded from using. Of course you could argue that it's enitrely voluntary but of course the reality is that you are effectly banned from the road until you get an e-Tag.
What is to stop the same principle being applied to CityWatcher's microchips and details such as say... my bank account. Of course at first the system would be voluntary but inevitably it would be increasingly difficult to "buy or sell, save he that had the microchip"...? That's fantasy you say, think about this, EFTPOS was introduced to Australia in 1986. In just 20 years it's gone from being a pipedream to a fully workable system, all entirely voluntarily and as we go further we'll find it increasingly difficult to buy or sell stuff.
Perhaps I'm being a wee bit paranoid? How many people voluntarily took up plastic cards? How many people don't carry cash anymore? This is not the realms of the possible, this is almost in the realm of NOW.
Technology generally takes about 30 years to become completely normal. That school in California "toyed with the idea of implanting the chips in all its pupils." This is madness no?
Of course it wouldn't be used for anything evil now, would it? Think nuclear power - Nagasaki and Hiroshima levelled. Hydrogen cyanide - largely a bug spray, employed under the name of Zyklon B. Even Non-Christians must conceed that we're not only capable of being inhumane, we find new and novel ways to do it. If Christians don't conceed that we are inherantly evil then I'm afraid that you may wish to recheck your doctrine.
To think that this general form of technology wouldn't be used to control people by attacking their hip pockets is ludicrous. I also think it's funny how nearly 2000 years ago we were warned about this, how did John know? Especially whilst in exile on an island which to today is home to holiday makers.
WAKE UP PEOPLE, it's later than you think. WAKE UP!!