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Getting Tagged

RFID implants in humans are no longer mere science fiction. At least 30 individuals have received RFID chip implants and have even established an online forum to discuss the philosophical implications… and the methods associated with implantation.

Uses of the implants vary from controlling locks on home and automobile entrances to security for computer equipment, although the functionality will certainly expand with the trend, which is known as “getting tagged.”

While cyborgian-style implants have been an underground trend for several years — including having radio receivers implanted in molars, and celphone headsets implanted in ear canals — RFID implants open up a number of disturbing questions beyond those raised by these earlier trends. Developments such as the new requirement that all U.S. passports contain RFID suggest a future where all citizens are ultimately tracked and trackable. A New York Times article pointed out today that national governments could require RFID implants for residents within its borders, employers prefer to hire implanted-workers, and insurance companies could refuse to insure the un-trackable (and thus unsecured) person. In the current “security” climate it is not too difficult to see this kind of thing happening, and not too far off into the future. Implantees now think the chips are cool and convenient…. but what if everybody had to have them, by law? I doubt they would be seen as cool by the cyborgian subculture — or anyone else — by then. Of course univeral RFID implants would be a great boon to relationship marketing, media targeting, and other messaging efforts by media and marketers. In audience/media research, a solution has been sought for decades now to adequately track exposure to media that takes place outside the tethered confines of the home or office. RFID has been discussed for about 15 years now as one possible answer to that problem. Cheap RFID receivers could be placed in thousands of locations around cities, in retail locations, and even in vehicles… and tracking portable media and place-based media exposure is a done deal.