Aunty has been talking about RFIDs to track people since last year, and the natural extension, implanting RFIDs or other miniature technology (or ICT, as it’s often known in Europe) in people, is not a new concept. After all, we’ve been injecting microchips into pets and livestock for years.
And that seems to be just the attitude which the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) has taken in advising the European Union (EU) on the issue of implanting RFID microchips or ICT in people (“ICT” stands for Information and Communication Technology).
Ok, sure, there may be some limited situations in which an argument can be made with which most people will agree. Such as the person who has a life-threatening illness, certain combinations of drugs can kill him, and he wants his medical history to be linked to a file number which is contained on an RFID in his arm (yes, this is a real person, with a real microchip).
But what makes this even more scary is that the EGE isn’t just talking about RFID chips. ICT encompasses a whole range of technologies beyond the relatively passive RFID, and includes things such as “ICT implants that rely for their operation on an (â€œonlineâ€?) connection to an external computer or which can be interrogated (â€œonlineâ€?) by an external computer.” Or which are networked. To each other.
And the EGE, advising the EU, has this to say about all that:
“Access to ICT implants for enhancement should only be for the purpose of bringing children or adults into the ‘normal’ range for the population…”
Oh. My. Goodness.
But wait, there’s more.
“To the extent that an individual via an ICT implant has become part of an ICT network, the operation of this whole network â€“ not just the ICT implant â€“ needs to be considered. It is particularly important that the power over this network (who has access to it, who can retrieve information from it, who can change it, and so forth) is transparent. ”
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Then the EGE observes that
“There is a stepwise shift in progress â€“ after being observed, via video surveillance and biometrics, individuals are being modified, via various electronic devices, under skin chips and smart tags, to such an extent that they are increasingly turned into networked individuals. Thus we might be continuously connected and could be configured differently so that from time to time we would transmit and receive signals allowing movements, habits and contacts to be traced and defined. This would be bound to modify the meaning and contents of an individuals’ autonomy and to affect their dignity.”
Hey, here’s an idea! We recognize the potential for great misuse. Let’s ban it, or at least regulate it!
Naaaaah..let’s trust the politicians to do the right thing:
“The EGE insists that surveillance applications of ICT implants may only be permitted if the legislator considers that there is an urgent and justified necessity in a democratic society and that there are no less intrusive methods.”
Uh, I feel much safer now.
“Efforts should be made to make sure that such ICT implants are not used to create a two-class society…”
Whew. Because you know, we wouldn’t want to create a class structure in places where no class structure already exists, like, in, oh…Europe.
(And yes, Aunty is well aware that many think that the United States is a country which has no class.)
But not all is lost, because in the final analysis, the EGE says that “The use of ICT implants in order to obtain remote control over the will of people should be strictly prohibited.”
Of course, they’ll be changing their tune about that shortly after the implant procedures…
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