Big Brother Could Be Watching

Have you ever seen the movie “Minority Report?” In that movie, the futuristic society has retinal scanners to identify people when they enter and exit buildings and to keep track of where people are at just about any time of the day. Advertisements changed based on who is near them and what they have bought in the past and stores knew exactly what you bought on your last visit so that they could better serve you on future visits.

Thankfully, that society is a long way from being a reality, but it is slowly coming into form by taking small steps. The first of such steps is implanting chips into humans that link them to databases that store information about medical conditions and security clearance.

According to an article on WIRED’s online web site, the FDA recently approved the use of such implantable memory chips. One of the first proposed uses of the chip is to allow medical response teams to gain patient history to allow for faster treatment in an emergency. Using such chips would quickly allow responders to know past conditions that could potentially cause trouble or give a clue as to what happened to a person that isn’t able to communicate their condition on their own. Other uses for the chip include security tracking. A large number of Mexican officials were recently implanted with the chips to limit access to secure documents and locations.

Each chip has a unique ID number that links them to their information in a database. Since the chip doesn’t actually store any information about the patient, the issue of privacy is limited, but can still come up. What will happen when (I say “when”, because there will always be ways to misuse new technology) a smart engineer hacks his way into the devices to figure out a way to reverse-engineer the technology? That person could create scanners that read chips from anyone in their immediate vicinity or even clone the behavior of other chips to allow the user to pass through security.

As long as people continue to be creative, anything is possible. Hopefully, this new technology will be very closely monitored for legitimacy and accuracy by making sure that each chip is for only one person and that only that person can access the ID number. I don’t want to have to go into a police station in the future and find that someone cloned my chip and robbed a bank under my name and I also don’t want to have my vote for a candidate in a future election taken away because a group decided to rig the polls by cloning chips of other people and using them to vote for their candidate. Let’s hope that Orwell was wrong and our society doesn’t become the one in 1984.



Comments are closed.