Are humans cattle or dogs?

August 3, 2007 at 3:00 am 3 comments

Portugal PhotoOkay, I’ve tried to avoid any ranting about the surveillance society while I continue my research into some issues, but several items of news I’ve come across have caused me hysteria. But I’ll start off by saying that I was recently at a dinner party when the issue of my blog came up (alas, my fellow guests weren’t die-hard fans of ThinkingShift, they just wanted to know if I had a blog). The question became: what do you blog about? And naturally with that opening, I rushed right in where angels may fear to tread – the surveillance society is a pet topic I responded.

About 30 seconds of silence ensued, then one brave person asked – why? what about it? 30 seconds of stunned silence on my part and then I launched myself into a monologue about public webcams, fingerprinting of children and so on. Now, one week later, I’m still a bit stunned by the range of responses:

  • “I don’t care if we’re being watched by webcams”
  • “yeah, I know we’re slipping into an Orwellian paradigm, but what can you do about it?”
  • “you know, if you talk about it too much, you might get visited by some people” (now, I’m not sure who these people might be or if the person uttering the comment was from ASIO or other Federal department!)
  • “I’ve never really noticed any webcams”
  • “Doesn’t worry me if I’m fingerprinted or iris-scanned”.

After a quick vodka (alcohol of choice when looking like deer in traffic light), I recovered myself to go on about how data and images about us could potentially be misused or abused. And then the mood changed: my fellow guests suddenly started to say things like “never thought of that aspect before”; “yeah, who exactly IS behind those webcams”; “we could end up with the Government knowing everything about us”. (Note to guest: they probably already do).

I told you recently about how NSW schools are about to introduce webcams into the classroom and the privacy issues around this. Recently, I was mid-lecture at a University where I teach; I looked up into the corner of the room; and there was a webcam. Big shock to me – I’d never been informed that the university had installed them and I haven’t been given any protocols of use for these webcams. I would suspect that my students didn’t even know they were there silently watching.

And so….to today’s post that asks the important question of whether humans are cattle or dogs? Thirty years or so ago, the first electronic tags were affixed to animals – cattle to be precise. All very innocent – the tags helped farmers to track stock. In the 1990s, domestic dogs (and cats) started to be chipped with owner identification data. Microchips are embedded everywhere: in e-tags to pay tolls; library books; in smart cards. But now it seems humans have joined the ranks of cattle and domestic pets to be chipped and tracked.

Wired has news that the company Citywatcher.com – a provider of surveillance equipment no less – has embedded glass-encapsulated microchips complete with miniature antennas into the forearms of two employees. Said employees were not cattle or domestic animals. Now the company maintains that this is all very innocent. The RFID tags, which are as thick as a toothpick, are merely to restrict access to certain areas that hold sensitive data or images. Has the company heard of (a) doing thorough background checks on employees before employing them in certain roles? or (b) trusting employees to do the right thing (I know….a radical suggestion).

This is a dangerous precedent if you ask me. Civil liberties campaigners say that human chipping could start innocently (as things did with cattle and dogs) – chipping Alzheimer’s patients to help authorities identify those who wander or chipping sex offenders to track and monitor their activities. And then it’s one small step to making all citizens scanable (hey, instead of webcams, in the future we’ll probably have barcoders at convenient places like train stations and supermarkets – just wave your chipped forearm to pay for goods and services). The cross-over from innocent to sinister has already happened. Apart from Citywatcher.com, the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona, Spain in 2004 began holding “implant nights”.

In a scene that you’d more likely see in an episode of The X-Files, a white coated dude brandishing a latex-gloved hand and hypodermic needle, swished along the line of eager club goers, anesthetised the arms of the young and pretty and injected them with microchips. And club goers willingly consented to this so they could avoid those nasty lines, breeze past bouncers, enter VIP areas and pay for drinks without paying cash. The ID on the chip was linked to the user’s bank accounts and stored in the club’s computer system. Night clubs in Scotland and Florida soon followed the trend. Hello?? Would you willingly submit to being chipped so you could bypass a queue?

Long-distance RFID technology can have a range of 11 metres (about 36 feet) and is already used to track trains so it takes little imagination to envision a future where RFID readers are placed along highways, for example, and as we whizz by in our cars with chips in our arms, the Government will know our every move; or employers will know how long we’ve spent in the loo. A willingness to be chipped might be the difference between getting a job or not.

One dude, a doctor in the US, had himself chipped so that if he was in an accident and landed in the emergency ward, medical staff would be able to access his medical history pronto. Sounds logical and innocent, but it’s one small step to imagining a future where the chipped get quicker medical treatment than the unchipped and the argument would be that they can be treated faster because of instant access to medical data ie streamlining bureaucracy.

And the technically-savvy, armed with their own RFID reader, could steal people’s identity by reading their data, something called “spoofing”. This is the problem with chipped passports – while you’re waiting in line at immigration, someone is spoofing your passport data (although having an encrypted chip apparently makes it harder). One security expert quoted in the Wired article said:

“You pass within a foot of a chipped person, copy the chip’s code, then with a push of the button, replay the same ID number to any reader. You essentially assume the person’s identity.”

Now, this scares me more than the webcams do. And like the breast implants that some women have that seem to migrate around the body, could a chip move somewhere else in the body causing a medical drama?

Human chipping is not a path we want to go down surely. What do you think?

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Entry filed under: CCTV, Public webcams, Rant, RFID, Surveillance society.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jamie  |  August 5, 2007 at 12:46 am

    It’s the way to a cashless society, a world banking system, international court, world police, and the Eliitests using their peace campagnes to promote bordeless countries and forming them into a union which will inevitably lead to a 1 World Ferderation. Doesn’t this sound great?

    If things would have left alone from the beginning this world could have been a wonderful place. But instead we have agencies planning and orchestrating attacks that they blame on so-called terrorists. I still find it a bit amazing how men hiding in a mountain could plan something so large. Mind readers? Well, then how in the hell did someone from a certain Government agency visit Osama Bin Laden at a hospital the day after 9/11? AMAZING. ***We all have access to this information all you have to do it find it.***

    I guess we should get ready for a FLU attack since it seems that’s what they’re all meeting about in Canada real soon. …just another way to decrease the size of the population. It’s stuns me how they can take peoples lives like we’re nothing, just cattle.

    I guess society deserves it. No one searches for other sources of information other than the mainstream media to report the news and the truth. The truth? More like %5 of the truth, maybe even less… And the majority of the time they don’t even report on things that we need to know about. Such as Bills being passed and signed without us knowing. For example: the North American Union or the NAFTA super hwy (Texas corridor). How about the Patriot act that was over 1200 pages and was passed 3 days after 9/11 when it usually 3 years to implement… Super powers? No, pre-planned or so it seems to any logical being.

    We have time to get the word out, but when it’s too late there will be no turning back. We won’t be able to change things. Thanks for the information, I appreciate it.

    Mr. Jaime

    Reply
  • 2. Anonymous  |  October 7, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Here’s where we may find comfort: The 2nd amendment. Yeah, I know there are many gun nuts out there, but if we as a people are subjected to a certain level of abuse/mistreatment (lack of food, water), then the revolution will-a-come…

    Reply
    • 3. Anon  |  October 14, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      The revolution will not come.
      You place far too much faith in the lazy gluttonous masses.
      The past decades have been training this horde into being essentially cattle. They guzzle down mindless entertainment and any major news affecting the health of society at best stays relevant for a couple of weeks.It is very rare for anyone to find the will to rebel unless the control is extremely overt and extremely brutal… which isn’t too hard to avoid.
      The people will learn to love their big brother, no doubt.

      Reply

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