Monday, July 23, 2007

There goes my “forgot my badge at home” excuse

Still under scrutiny for their borderline-1984 security lengths, last year pushed the envelope by implanting a small, capsule-like chip into 2 employees’ arms. The chips were injected under their skin with a large-gauge hypodermic needle and replaced the Radio-frequency identification (RFID) key chains that granted access to the video surveillance tape storage center.

The regulation implemented by the Cincinnati surveillance company reasoned that the implant would not only reduce security breaches but also help out forgetful staff members.

In 2004 Mexico’s Attorney General Rafeal Macedo took similar action. He and his eighteen member team were equipped with chips to help secure activity into a sensitive records office.

I can perhaps see the need for extreme security controls at the government level -- yes, even if it does blur the lines between human and robot. Governments are responsible for the safety and organization of a nation; some information cannot fall into the wrong hands. But the same regulation instated by a private security company seems a little unnecessary. They’re still using VHS tapes, but they’re upgrading their badges to microchip arm implants?

RFID can store all types of information from medical histories to basic identification profiles. RFID tags are used in credit cards that can be charged with a swipe, like the American Express Blue Card’s ExpressPay, Mastercard’s Pay Pass and JPMorgan Chase’s Blink.

Implanting such technology into the bodies of people can produce an endless list of possible applications, both beneficial and disturbing.

In July 2004 the FDA began their final assessment of RFID implants and approved the first USA implant that October. Patient medical records can be stored and updated via wireless to ensure that people receive appropriate care in emergences.

Nightclubs in Spain, Scotland and even the U.S. (Miami) already use RFID to identify VIP patrons as well as make paying for drinks more convenient.

Privacy concerns taint the wonderful world of RFID. Although not available yet, the ability to stalk certain people with a form of GPS is not outside the reach of technology; a person’s whereabouts could potentially be identified at any moment.

New Jersey has not taken the leap yet to implant, yet a similar tactic has been adopted with the help of municipal wireless to control beach usage.

Beach bums vacationing at the Jersey Shore traditionally had to purchase a badge to play on the beach. Projected to begin next summer, Jersey beaches are looking into an electronic wristband upgrade to limit freeloaders and ease the purchase of beachfront concessions.
Wristbands or pins would be worn, allowing digital tracking of who in fact paid to use the beach.

Text messages could even alert mothers if their children strayed too far from their area.

Add an implant to the mix and I could get an email every time you leave your house to go to the beach. I don’t think I’m alone when I think that’s pretty scary.

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