365 / 41: Tagged and Bagged

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology uses radio waves to transfer data between a tag and a reader. Its main use at the moment is to track movement of assets by giving each item its own unique identifying number. This is not limited to a number of records, as it is possible to give every object in the world its own identifying number.

This technology allows companies to track stock – each and every stock item – that sells from a department store, allowing them to work out their demographics for all products.

Imagine this technology being used in humans. Imagine every movement you make is tracked and recorded. Imagine that there was software that could trend your movements and predict where you would be and when you would go there. I know there is as I used to build and write software that would do this for an international company that had gone through the process of putting RFID tags on all products.

Don’t imagine too hard, as there is evidence that in 2004 The United Stated Food and Drug Administration (the FDA) approved the use of RFID tags for patients in hospitals. Hospitals across America have been implanting RFID tags in patients for workflow and inventory management. There has also been a move towards implanting RFID tags in all employees of hospitals, to also allow their movements tracked.

Sound a little Big Brother-ish? It does get worse. The Australian Government is in the middle of a health care reform. So how do those two sentences tie together?

There is a review underway of different patient identification technologies with a “personally controlled electronic health record system” gaining support. The thrust of this is that each Australian will be identifiable by a 16 digit (1,000,000,000,000,000) identification number. They will be implemented in conjunction with “palm vein scanning”. A quick think about that sounds like something being inserted under the skin of the palm.

So, basically, it would mean that every Australian would be micro-chipped, with a Positive ID (PSID), like an animal. Who would be easiest group of people to test this process on? Prisoners. They have no rights in the eyes of people and the Government would claim that they are doing it in our best interest as they would be able to monitor prisoner movements.

This would only be the first step. After prisoners a new group would be targeted. On and on the process would go.

It comes down to this – do you want your every move noted, scanned and analysed for future reference? Do you want where you have been to haunt you?

Is this the prelude with the whole world following if it works? What would it take for the United States of America to do the same thing if the testing ground of Australia proved successful?

How quickly would it take for backyard doctors to start cropping up offering a “removal service” so that individuals can fall off the grid? It sounds like science fiction to you, but a lot of science fiction has become science fact in the last century. Let’s not make this another one.

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