Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Death of Privacy

I used to laugh at the old guys wearing signs that said "the end of the world is near" but thanks to the FDA, Applied Digital Systems, and the VeriChip, I just quit laughing.

According to this 2002 Wired magazine article (by way of CAM Law):

The Food and Drug Administration has ruled that an implantable microchip used for ID purposes is not a regulated device, paving the way for the chip's immediate sale in the United States....
They inquired about the use of the product for non-medical, identification purposes," said FDA spokeswoman Sharon Snider. "If it's a non-medical use, the FDA doesn't regulate it."

This is the worst idea I've seen in decades come to life. The ramifications scare me to death. I can't believe it took me 5 years to find out about it.

In the United States, the VeriChip has been marketed as a medical aid which would allow hospital workers to access patients' health records with a simple wave of the wand, or reader. While the FDA has not approved storing medical information on the chip, the device's ID could be cross-referenced with a computer database holding the patient's records.

And because it uses RFID technology, anyone with the wherewithal to cobble together a reader can get it at a distance. Forget the potential security issues we're going to be facing with the new passports. If its use becomes ubiquitous, we can ditch the passport altogether. Want to know who's coming into, or leaving the nation? Just walk them through an RFID reader.

Think I'm being paranoid? Read this from the company's website. It goes right along with this idea. It's all about tracking people. Where they are, where they've been, where they're going.

The supporters say it's all about saving lives. Okay. I admit I can see those benefits, but can you see the problems? What if you're in the vicinity of a criminal act? The police will know you were there. You've just become a suspect of the investigation whether you witnessed it or not. The police will start digging through the GPS records to see where else you went. They don't even have to notify you. They just need to get a judge to sign off on it.

Wow. Look at this. You drive by a lot of elementary schools. Three times a day you hang out at the same elementary school for a couple of hours a day. Does this make you a pedophile? Now the police have further evidence that you might be a criminal. Maybe they need to investigate you further.

None of this will show, however, that the reason you go and hang out a school three times a day is because you're crossing guard at the school. Eventually they may find that out, but until then, they've got an open ticket to look into every aspect of your life, good or bad, and your privacy just died. You've not been formally charged with anything, yet. You're just part of an "ongoing investigation." What's that flying out the window? Hmmm. It looks like the Constitution.

Want to get into further abuses? Police have already been prosecuted for the misuse of public cameras. They were aiming them in peoples windows to watch young women exercise and undress.

What happens when the police become the stalkers? "She's really cute, and her VeriChip shows that she just entered her bedroom." You're a smart person. You can figure out the rest.

Even worse, what happens when the bad guys can get that information?
Maybe I am being paranoid, but are you beginning to see why privacy isn't just a problem for criminals?

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