Thursday, June 22, 2006

Beyond Human Implanted RFID & GPS Technology

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When one digs deeper into what the state of Wisconsin did by outlawing all human implanted RFID and GPS technology for any reason, in one persons opinion, they took away a tool that would allow parents a greater level of security over their children.

Beyond RFID, an amendment to allow parents to implant Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) signal technology in their children was shot down during the run-up to the passage of the law disallowing the use of all human implanted tracking and locating technology.

Excerpts of an opinion article in Computerworld -

Thinking the Unthinkable
By Don Tennant - June 19, 2006 - Computerworld

A Wisconsin law that went into effect last week would probably be considered by most people to be a no-brainer. The law prohibits the implantation of any kind of microchip into a person's body without his consent. Who could fault legislation that serves as a proactive measure to safeguard personal privacy in the face of emerging intrusive identification and tracking technologies?

I could. And here's why.

A few weeks ago, at a dinner during Computerworld's Mobile & Wireless World conference in Orlando, I had the privilege of being seated next to one of the Best Practices award winners. In the course of our dinner conversation, we were talking about our kids, and he told me that he lost his teenage daughter in a car accident not too long ago. She had fallen asleep at the wheel. "Every parent's worst nightmare," he said.

"That's not my worst nightmare," I told him. "My worst nightmare is for one of my kids to go missing and to never be found." He understood and nodded. Not knowing would be maddening.
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One day last week, I asked [my daughter] Shelly whether she'd be OK with it if I wanted to have a chip with a tracking capability implanted in her so we could find her if she was ever missing.

"Certainly," she said without hesitation. "Because I trust you." Her caveat: "Parents should only activate it if they really need to." Agreed.

The technology to implant GPS tracking devices in humans certainly exists, as a simple Google search will affirm. But it doesn't appear to be actively marketed or readily available in product form for implanting in children so they can be quickly located if they're lost or abducted. There's just too much negative publicity surrounding the technology and its privacy ramifications, and the companies involved in its development seem unwilling to run the political and public relations gantlet. That's a shame.


About six years ago, Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy took a now-famous position on the issue. "If I could embed a locator chip in my child right now, I know I would do that," he said. "Some people call that Big Brother. I call it being a father."
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So I was troubled by the fact that an amendment to the Wisconsin bill that provided for an exemption in the case of parents directing an implantation in a minor was revoked before the bill became law. And I'm wary of the precedent set by such preemptive legislation and of the course that other states might take.

For anyone who finds that position unacceptable, I'll tell you what. Find me a parent with a missing child who wouldn't give anything to have had a GPS tracking device implanted in that child, and I'll keep quiet. Make a compelling argument that there's an abducted child who wouldn't feel the same way, and I'll shut up. Until then, I'll be a vocal advocate of thinking the unthinkable and doing something about it.


Don Tennant is editor in chief of Computerworld. Contact him at don_tennant@computerworld.com.
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Ahhh, yes, human implanted tracking and locating technology is a slippery slope.

Does the tracking "chip" come out at the age of eighteen? Can you get them removed at the same time you get your first right-of-passage tattoo?

HT: Symblogogy
(photo and equipment description above relates only as an example of GPS technology in general and does not relate directly to human implant technology discussed in the opinion piece from Computerworld highlighted in this post)

1 comment:

Missing Child Advocate said...

What struck me as odd, even more so than the technology debate, was the author explaining to the award winner what a parents worse nightmare is.

How about some human compassion? Has he a child who passed away or one that was missing? I trust he was paraphrasing the conversation. The technology is not FDA approved for implant. What would if his child were to die from complications of a GPS implant? As for Scott McNealy’s comments, I found nothing on a Google search for such an alleged now infamous quote.