Monday, February 20, 2006

Privacy, what privacy?!

The American company of video-monitoring began to use microchips inserted in the body of its workers, as a form of control so employees cannot accede to restricted secure parts of the company. The silicone chips, which are presented as allowing control of employees as well as access to medical history of its carriers, have already raised controversy in the United States. These microcircuits are work of the VeriChip Company, a subsidiary of Digital Applied Solutions, Palm Beach (FL), which in October of 2004 received the consent of the FDA to commercialize the product. The company works fundamentally on two applications of this technology: for identification, as in the case of, and for its use in hospitals, where it claims could be a very useful machine for patients with difficulties to communicate, as those with Alzheimer. The capsule, which is inserted under the skin of the arm or the hand with a syringe, contains a number of 16 digits that allows access to the medical file of the carrier. This chip, according to its promoters, will facilitate to hospitals, doctors and patients to improve the attendance and to avoid errors, with precise information on each patient and its health condition. In addition to these uses, we can find that the Ministry of Justice of Mexico already uses this type of technology to identify its employees. The "chip" also has other less altruistic uses and, for example, the discotheque Baja Beach Club of Barcelona uses these capsules with its clients VIP. It allows to identify them in the entrance and to have their consumption paid directly from a special account. It is said that approximately 2,000 people in the world already have these microchips inserted in their bodies.
But what are the privacy implications of this futurist technology? It can be argued that having something implanted in the body that cannot be turned off, implies a total invasion of privacy, but what it is more worrisome is the possibility of combining this technology with other initiatives like ID cards, CCTV and many other control devices and regulations. If now the US Administration is claiming the right to monitor Internet and telephone use without a warrant, what will stop it from monitoring the moves of individuals implanted with the Chips?

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