Week Ten – Children being chipped

In class, Glynis mentioned something about nanotechnology and how children are being chipped in Japan.

This struck my attention and I was intrigued to find more about this technology. After looking at a few websites (many which were unofficial), the type of technology that was being implanted into humans and pets were called radio frequency identification (RFID) chips (see Figure 1). As shown in the image below, this microchip is just slightly bigger than a grain of rice!

RFID is a form of a wireless system that uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data for automatic identification and tracking. There are two ways of tracking this device: one doesn’t require any batteries and will operate on electromagnetic fields, whereas the other will use a local power source and emit radio waves. The tag will contain electronically stored information which can be read from several metres away, unlike a barcode. A barcode would have to be in the line of readers’ sight. These chips can be embedded in the tracked object.

Figure 1: RFID Chip compared to a grain of rice

RFID tags can be used in different industries. One example is with the ability to respond to devices in automobiles for access to toll roads or parking. Another example is the option of new credit cards with RFID tags already implanted in the card. There are multiple advantages to that as well as disadvantages. The video from CNN (see below) helped me understand what was good or bad with regards to the RFID chip. Many people have used RFID to their advantage via decryption to access personal information.

Did you know? UTS Library also uses RFID tags to keep track of books. This is a recent development and has made borrowing a book easier and efficient. The new self-serve check out machines only require the book to be placed or slid across on the platform.

I stumbled upon an article in my research, “FDA approves computer chip for humans” (2012) and it mentioned that pet owners are getting RFID chips implanted into their pets’ bodies to store information and track their movements for a cost of $50. Whereas, if humans desire to be chipped, it is inserted via syringe and remains hidden under the skin. This $150-$200 procedure takes less than 20 minutes and you leave without stitches. The RFID chip stores a code that will release patient-specific information when a scanner passes over it. Only a thousand people worldwide have had the devices implanted. RFID tags can be attached to clothing, possessions or implanted, the possibility of reading personally-linked information without consent has raised privacy concerns.

Do you think that this should be implemented at all?

After Glynis mentioned about Japanese schoolchildren being implanted with this microchip, I originally thought that it wouldn’t provide the privacy that a child would sometimes require. After reading this statement (see quote below), I am only glad that they haven’t implanted them into their bodies. Although there are many benefits of having a RFID implanted, like parents/teachers being able to track their children’s movements. However, there are also disadvantages. I personally think that being chipped means that you’re being watched and your movement is being seen. There is no privacy, but there is safety. 

The rights and wrongs of RFID-chipping human beings have been debated since the tracking tags reached the technological mainstream. Now, school authorities in the Japanese city of Osaka have decided the benefits outweigh the disadvantages and will now be chipping children in one primary school.

The tags will be read by readers installed in school gates and other key locations to track the kids’ movements.

The chips will be put onto kids’ schoolbags, name tags or clothing in one Wakayama prefecture school. Denmark’s Legoland introduced a similar scheme last month to stop young children going astray. 

Taken from article, “Japan: Schoolkids to be tagged with RFID chips” (2004)

Overall, I’m on the fence with this topic. I would never personally put one on myself nor force it upon students. Whether or not the Australian government will decide to fund this in the future would be debatable, however there have been no talks on this at all. This project will not seem likely for Australia in the near future.

So, are you with or against it?

Leave a comment below on your thoughts! I’d love to hear about it!

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2 thoughts on “Week Ten – Children being chipped

  1. I’ve heard about this a fair while ago and I never really had much of a stand on the matter. Personally no, I wouldn’t chose to go out and get a chip implanted in myself but if it could be used from a medical standpoint of blood type, age, name etc I can certainly see the benefit. Of course whatever technology is used to scan them could easily be obtained by mobsters and used for heinous reasons, not to mention creepy stalkers. Fence sitting FTW

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