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Miscellaneous meanderings and philosophical ramblings. The title from a spiral notebook I used to jot down my thoughts on religion and other matters some years ago. I like to write, think and express my views on various issues. Robust discussion is welcome.

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"Lan astaslem."
I will not submit. I will not surrender.
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Monday, February 13, 2006

Because you can doesn't mean you should

With technology growing ever more in capability, it has been noted before, that it may out strip the moral codes and diminish the freedoms of a society. We have a case in point from a recent news item.

US group implants electronic tags in workers

An Ohio company has embedded silicon chips in two of its employees - the first known case in which US workers have been “tagged” electronically as a way of identifying them., a private video surveillance company, said it was testing the technology as a way of controlling access to a room where it holds security video footage for government agencies and the police.

While I believe there will always be a difficult balance between security and liberty, you can't have an absolute condition of either one at the same time, it would seem that some are being seduced by technology and the cost controls it may offer in security situations. After all, an electronic reader doesn't need an individual standing their identifying people. Once installed, no need for an employee at that entry point, who is paid a salary, benefits and may sue you in the future should you treat them badly, or sadly, even if you don't.

Embedding slivers of silicon in workers is likely to add to the controversy over RFID technology, widely seen as one of the next big growth industries.

RFID chips – inexpensive radio transmitters that give off a unique identifying signal – have been implanted in pets or attached to goods so they can be tracked in transit.

“There are very serious privacy and civil liberty issues of having people permanently numbered,” said Liz McIntyre, who campaigns against the use of identification technology.

I'm not a conspiracy nut, but I do think we need to remain vigilant and resist the desires of some to control and monitor everything.

But Sean Darks, chief executive of CityWatcher, said the glass-encased chips were like identity cards. They are planted in the upper right arm of the recipient, and “read” by a device similar to a cardreader.

So, a potential infiltrator just needs someone's arm? I bet Hollywood has fun with that.

“There’s nothing pulsing or sending out a signal,” said Mr Darks, who has had a chip in his own arm. “It’s not a GPS chip. My wife can’t tell where I am."

I wonder how your wife feels about not knowing where you are. Prenuptial agreements may get mighty interesting in the near future.

The technology’s defenders say it is acceptable as long as it is not compulsory. But critics say any implanted device could be used to track the “wearer” without their knowledge.

Well, such things never start out compulsory do they? While incremental change is the best way for a society to develop and evolve, it can also allow error to creep in unaware or be used in a dishonest fashion to deceive many who would otherwise resist.

VeriChip – the US company that made the devices and claims to have the only chips that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration – said the implants were designed primarily for medical purposes.

Incrementalism 101 ^

So far around 70 people in the US have had the implants, the company said.

Hopefully the number will never grow much beyond this. However, the march for safety and convenience, at all costs, may some day converge at exactly the wrong time, when someone is in power to bring it all to bear against society in an oppressive manner. We must remain vigilant and resist the temptation of doing something simply because we can.

Previous posts:

You will be assimilated
Google Instant Messaging
Google's priorities
Google alternatives
To Google or not to Google?

Be sure to check out these blogs for more news and commentary:

Free Constitution has Sundayish
third world county has a Repetition aids learning
Don Surber has Monday's best
Jo's Cafe has Monday Specials
The Land of Ozz has Open Post Monday - WayBackMachine
Committees of Correspondence has The Open Trackback Alliance XIV

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