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Sunday, June 3, 2012

‘Human barcode’ could make society more organized, but invades privacy, civil liberties

As tech companies work to develop ID chips, how long until we're no longer anonymous?

Would you barcode your baby?

Microchip implants have become standard practice for our pets, but have been a tougher sell when it comes to the idea of putting them in people.

Science fiction author Elizabeth Moon last week rekindled the debate on whether it's a good idea to "barcode" infants at birth in an interview on a BBC radio program.

“I would insist on every individual having a unique ID permanently attached — a barcode if you will — an implanted chip to provide an easy, fast inexpensive way to identify individuals,” she said on The Forum, a weekly show that features "a global thinking" discussing a "radical, inspiring or controversial idea" for 60 seconds.

Moon believes the tools most commonly used for surveillance and identification — like video cameras and DNA testing — are slow, costly and often ineffective.

In her opinion, human barcoding would save a lot of time and money.

The proposal isn’t too far-fetched - it is already technically possible to "barcode" a human - but does it violate our rights to privacy?

Opponents argue that giving up anonymity would cultivate an “Orwellian” society where all citizens can be tracked.

“To have a record of everywhere you go and everything you do would be a frightening thing,” Stanley, senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, told the Daily News.

He warned of a “check-point society” where everyone carries an internal passport and has to show their papers at every turn, he said.



 

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