“Human barcode” could organise society, erode privacy and civil liberties


Science fiction writer Elizabeth Moon has rekindled the debate over whether it's a good idea to "barcode" infants at birth. In a BBC radio interview she says: "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 argued the tools used most commonly used for surveillance and identification -- such as DNA testing and video cameras -- are costly, slow and often ineffective.

Opponents say giving up anonymity would give rise to 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,” Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Daily News. He warned of a “check-point society” where everyone is implanted with 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.

In 2002, an implantable ID chip called VeriChip was approved by the US 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 with information about the user. It was discontinued in 2010 due to safety and privacy concerns. Engineers and scientists have not given up on the idea. ~ New York Daily News, Jun 1




MORE ON THESE TOPICS | genetic privacy, privacy

This article is published by Jared Yee and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

 
 Search BioEdge

 Subscribe to BioEdge newsletter
rss Subscribe to BioEdge RSS feed

 
comments powered by Disqus