MAY 24, 1999
Under your skin
© 1999

There are times when I hate being right. About three years ago I was discussing national ID cards on my radio program. Congress was fighting (and is still fighting) to get national ID cards linked to some kind of biometric tool. Biometric tools are unique individual identifiers like fingerprints, retinal scans, and DNA profiles.

I made a passing reference to the Sylvester Stallone/Wesley Snipes movie "Demolition Man." In it, everyone in the future is required to have a sub-dermal biochip implant. The device held an individual's entire personal history: medical, financial, health history, criminal record, etc. I noted that although it was science fiction, the technology exists NOW.

I immediately received a phone call from a listener in Berkley, Calif., Charles Ostman. Ostman informed my audience that he had worked on the government project to refine sub-dermal biochip implants. These implantable microchips are about the size of a grain of rice. No science fiction -- just science fact. As it happens, I have sub-dermal biochip implants in both my dogs. If they are ever lost, they have tags identifying them as having an AVID chip (which includes my name, address and phone number).

It has been "suggested" that sub-dermal biochip implants could/would assist the military in locating downed pilots. After all, it costs a lot of money to train a jet jockey and if or when they crash, they are a valuable resource that should be recovered as soon as possible. Parents could/should have them implanted in their children to aid in locating them if lost or kidnapped. If or when that estranged spouse kidnaps your child, GPS (Global Positioning Satellites) could track the child's exact whereabouts. Heck, cars now have GPS units that offer help on demand road assistance at the push of a button -- even if YOU don't know where you are. Currently, microchip data can only be scanned from a little more than a foot away. However, as improvements happen, the scanning distance should be increased to several feet or even yards. Scanners are cheap and, once in production, will get cheaper.

All very "what if," and gee whiz.

Beginning Oct. 2, 2000, you will be required to present your SSN to board any airline or purchase any airplane ticket, use any government services (even to call the police to report an incident).

On May 10, 1999, the Windsor Star in Canada ran an article by Stephan Bevan of Britain's London Times entitled "Chips May Dip Into Workplace Sanity" which began, "Big brother could soon be watching from the inside. Several British companies are consulting scientists on ways of developing microchip implants for their workers to measure their timekeeping and whereabouts. The technology, which has been proven on pets and human volunteers, would enable firms to track staff. The data could enable them to draw up estimates of workers' efficiency and productivity."

The mad British researcher pushing the technology, Professor Kevin Warwick of Reading University, has been quoted as saying, "For a business, the potential is obvious. You can tell when people clock into work and when they leave the building. You would know at all times exactly where they were and who they were with. It is pushing the limits of what society will accept, but in a way it is not such a big deal. Many employees already carry swipecards."

Those of you who use "swipecards," or "keycards" know you can gain entry to parking lots, and locked doors just by pressing the card against a square panel on a wall. What you may not know is that every time you do that, there is a record identifying building security that YOU entered that door at specifically that time. Very efficient.

Closer to home, the president of "DecisionSmith," Eric Lazarus, recently queried Scan This News for an opinion on the use of biometrics technology in school cafeterias for identifying students. Reportedly, the question was "What are the ethical issues involved? Is it better for kids to punch in an ID number, have a finger print scanned, or have their voice recognized by a computer in order to buy food off their 'account'? What are the things we should be concerned about as we deploy cafeteria systems?"

The response was chilling. Lazarus was told he would probably decide on microchips. The rationale was that people forget passwords, and other ID devices are time consuming. Here's the quote: "For these and other reasons which I will get into, I'm certain you will ultimately conclude ... that implanted microchips are your best choice. They are the only identification technology which will both eliminate the inherent potential for errors and at the same time relieve the recipient of the inconveniences of multiple cards, memorized numbers and arcane passwords." In other words, to re-write Ben Franklin, it is necessary to sacrifice a whole lot of freedom for a little security.

"Let's face it," the letter continues, "ID numbers, ID cards, voice recognition, fingerscans, etc., all require considerable, time-consuming interaction with the 'accounting device' -- whatever that turns out to be. Imagine each student, for instance, having to pause upon entering school to get their finger scanned, then again when they go outside for Physical Education, another time when they came back in, and once again when they leave school at the end of the day. Add to this all the other interactions where ID is necessary, such as the lunch program, testing, counseling, field trips, ball games, after school activities, and -- well, you get the idea. All this would add hours to the school day! The implanted microchip will eliminate all this time-consuming interaction."

Yeah, we get the idea. Big-Flipping-Brother knows where you are ALL the time. Privacy ... the very concept of privacy becomes an anachronism.

Scott McDonald of Scan This News (one of the good guys, and writing satirically) noted, "A lifetime of information can be easily databased using a microchip system. All movement, transactions, and interactions can be recorded and monitored once everyone has their own unique identifier. Every detail of a person's life will be finally accessible to authorities through the widespread use of implanted chips ... it must begin somewhere and school children are the most likely candidate."

What about obvious opposition to this Brave New World sans privacy? Here's what Scott suggests: "OK, there'll be some opposition at first. There'll be those who'll put up a small amount of resistance. Some will holler: 'The Constitution this, and the Constitution that.' But only those social misfits, kooks, and rebels with something to hide will hold out strongly. Little will they know, the very act of objecting, in itself, will suffice to 'identify' them as trouble-makers. They can then be arrested and force-chipped as part of the booking process! Besides, most Americans -- after they've been reminded of all benefits and services they will sacrifice if they refuse -- will soon acquiesce. This is how it worked when Congress enacted laws to coerce parents into numbering their children at birth. A few grumbled for a short while. But, once the threat of no longer being able to claim their children on tax returns set in, they got right in line down at the Social Security Administration and had their children numbered."

The myopic hubris of bureaucratic sphincters is sufficient to gag a maggot. Those of us who still intend to defend and protect the Constitution against ALL enemies, foreign AND domestic are, by "The Controllers'" definition, "social misfits, kooks, and rebels." Then again, according to the FBI Definition, they are Terrorists: "Terrorism is the unlawful use of force or violence against person or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian populace, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives."