Girl to get tracker implant to ease parents' fears...
September 4, 2002 9:09 AM   Subscribe

Girl to get tracker implant to ease parents' fears... The parents of an 11-year-old British girl are having her fitted with a microchip so that her movements can be traced if she is abducted. The doctor involved believes we "should consider implants for all children"
posted by Irontom (54 comments total)
 
Also see this article (from the register).
posted by chrimble at 9:13 AM on September 4, 2002


if i had one of these in me when i was a kid, as soon as i hit high school i would have been digging it out with a steak knife. the reason may be valid, but what kid is going to want to be tracked everywhere they go by their parents?
posted by chrisroberts at 9:15 AM on September 4, 2002


Let's look a few years down the road... "What are you doing at the grocery store at 2 in the morning?" "Damnit, mom, I'm 33... get off my back and turn that damn tracker off."
posted by benjh at 9:25 AM on September 4, 2002


A lot of parents are going to be unknowingly tracking sharks as they prowl the beaches.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:29 AM on September 4, 2002


". . .we sat down as a family and discussed what we could do," Mrs Duval said. "Like us, Danielle needs to feel that she's safe at all times and could be located in a real emergency."

Parents: Danielle, honey? If there was something that could save you in case you were brutally kidnapped by a pair of slobbering, filthy child molesters. You'd want it, wouldn't you?

Danielle: (Shivering in fear) Ummm . . .Yes?

Parents: Good! It's settled then. Doctor, bring in the microchip!
posted by jeremias at 9:31 AM on September 4, 2002


The idea is a good one, but what's to stop a kidnapper from digging the thing out of the kid himself?
posted by boomchicka at 9:33 AM on September 4, 2002


I guess I'll ask first ...

Does it go in the right hand or forehead?

*badump-bump*
posted by Dillenger69 at 9:40 AM on September 4, 2002


The image I get of these kids is the one where Bruce Willis rips his own tooth out at the end of 12 Monkeys in order to get rid of his implant.
posted by Dr_Octavius at 9:43 AM on September 4, 2002


I guess it depends upon what right children have to privacy. I was going to say that it would be alright until the child reached the age of 18 (or whatever age they are considered adults in the UK), but in the US kids have the right to privacy when it comes to getting birth control or an abortion (in some states, anyway.)
posted by ukamikanasi at 10:03 AM on September 4, 2002


Seems like 11 is a little young for implants, but it's an interesting trend.
posted by yerfatma at 10:04 AM on September 4, 2002


That's okay, Dr_Octavius. The first image I get is a psychotic killer ripping the arm off an 8-year old girl before dragging her somewhere to rape her and strangle her to death so the parents can't find her, locating only the bloody remains of Tiffany's left forearm with the LoJack strapeed to it lying in her bed, slowly staining the sheets and her SpongeBob doll.

Oh look! Kittens!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:05 AM on September 4, 2002


boomchicka -

Care to offer a logical defense of the statement that this is a good idea?
posted by Irontom at 10:09 AM on September 4, 2002


Other than that, you know, the idea is a good one.

On preview: nevermind, what IronTom said.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:11 AM on September 4, 2002


It never ceases to amaze me, the fact that you are more likely to die or be hurt in a car accident than almost anything else, yet parents happily and carelessly drive their babies from one side of the world to the other, all the while obsessing about how they can stop the 1 in a zillion chance that their kid will be abducted or hit by a meteorite or eaten by a jellyfish.
posted by glenwood at 10:22 AM on September 4, 2002


Not to mention, glenwood, that most abduction cases involve either a direct family member or a close family friend, not some random person who breaks into your home.

Maybe the parents should just hand out microchips at their next bridge party?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:26 AM on September 4, 2002


I don't know, y'all. I have a lovely 10-month old daughter, and I can't even watch the news these days with all the attention that child abductions are getting. Having a chip implanted doesn't sound like such a bad idea.

-- The potential abductor doesn't know it's there if she keeps her mouth shut, so he won't rip her arm off.

-- I would probably not be ABLE to track her on a day-to-day basis without some mega equipment (would be used by the police only if she disappeared), so she could go off and smoke a cig or whatever behind the 7-11 and I could smell it on her clothes & she could get in trouble the old fashioned way.

-- At least I would KNOW where her body was if the worst were to happen. Can't imagine being the parents of Eliz. Smart, Chandra Levy, and so many, many more. Brings tears to my eyes.
posted by jfwlucy at 10:39 AM on September 4, 2002 [1 favorite]


Also, kids wander off (toddlers) or run away (teens), but if the kid really runs away, you probably have problems that a microchip won't help. Anyway, we give them to our pets, so why not our kids? Is it that much different than the ID bracelet my parents made me wear as a kid?
posted by ukamikanasi at 10:42 AM on September 4, 2002


Does she know how to use the three seashells?
posted by spungfoo at 10:42 AM on September 4, 2002


I want microchips for all living organisms, including mosquitoes.
*splet*
posted by ginz at 10:51 AM on September 4, 2002


On a more serious note, does anyone else get a bit unnerved about the orwellian "slippery slope" of this idea?
posted by Stan Chin at 11:01 AM on September 4, 2002


Can't imagine being the parents of...Chandra Levy, and so many, many more. Brings tears to my eyes.

Yeah, except that Chandra was an adult.
posted by goethean at 11:02 AM on September 4, 2002 [1 favorite]


jfwlucy -

Not only can you not imagine being one of those parents, you have a vanishingly small chance of ever experiencing their trauma. I ran some numbers on this subject a while back because my wife and I were having an argument about it. I don't have the links and facts here (I can post them later if need be) but I do remember the results.

It boils down to this: all things being equal, there is a 1 in 13,000+ chance that any given child will be kidnapped by a stranger (note - the odds are much higher that any given child will be kidnapped by someone they are related to).

The tracking equipment would ostensibly be used only by police - but it's going to wind up being a GPS-based system of some kind. Just think of the fun that we will have as a society once some smart guy figures out how to decode these specific signals. The harassment of the famous will reach all new highs, and divorce cases will reach all new lows.

Also, note that child abductions are this summer's "shark attack" syndrome. Abductions have actually been falling in the last year or two, but network news finally figured out that highlighting them would drive up ratings. Next year it will be something else, and people will have something new to worry about.
posted by Irontom at 11:03 AM on September 4, 2002


We need to establish that abductions now, aren't any greater in number than they were in previous years. With that said, would people have considered a tracking device then as seriously as they do now?
posted by LexRockhard at 11:05 AM on September 4, 2002


Spungfoo -- three seashells? I'm gonna teach her "Baa, Ram, Ewe," as soon as I can, but the seashells are too deep a reference for me.

No, Irontom, I know all that, though you've restated it rather well. The media's got hold of this meme and are squeezing it dry. And the system clearly has the potential to be abused.

It just makes me sad. I guess my point is just that as I look at her across the room and think of all the fights we are bound to have about whether she is old enough to go to the park or ride her bike down the street by herself, it seems like not such a bad idea . . .
posted by jfwlucy at 11:08 AM on September 4, 2002


"orwellian slippery slope," indeed.
tracking paroled criminals or suspects (what kind of suspects? whatever) seems imminently plausible, for starters.
posted by sodalinda at 11:17 AM on September 4, 2002


I have kids too. I understand the impulse.

It's just a disfunctional one that I refuse to indulge in. It just seems to me to be completely counterproductive to shape your decisions about child rearing on what amounts to an irrational fear ("my kid will be harmed by 'bad men' ") when there are so many other rational fears that need to be handled (drug use, bullies at school, fuckwit teenagers speeding through the neighborhood, etc).

I said a lot about this topic a while back in a semi-related thread, so I'll get off my soapbox now.
posted by Irontom at 11:20 AM on September 4, 2002


Irontom & XQUZYPHYR -

By "good idea" I was simply referring to any attempts at reducing kidnappings. Although I don't think the implant idea is quite "there," I still think it's worthy of discussion. We have to go through some not-so-great ideas to get to the better ones. That's all.
posted by boomchicka at 11:25 AM on September 4, 2002


I would probably not be ABLE to track her on a day-to-day basis without some mega equipment (would be used by the police only if she disappeared)

actually, you can get chips like these for pets and you don't need mega equipment. all you need is a connection to the internet.
posted by chrisroberts at 11:28 AM on September 4, 2002


On a more serious note, does anyone else get a bit unnerved about the orwellian "slippery slope" of this idea?

Yes, not only is this the most stupid idea I've heard this summer, it just gives people a false sence of secrurity, but it is also very scary.
So doctor Warwick wants all children to have implants, (great way to become rich), who'll be next and what group of people?
Will less people come to harm? I don't think so.
posted by ginz at 11:30 AM on September 4, 2002


"By 'good idea' I was simply referring to any attempts at reducing kidnappings"

If we chained every person in this country to a desk and applied clean-room-level access controls to all doors leading to the outside world, it would have a serious impact on both attempted and successful kidnappings.

Do you want to live under those kinds of conditions? Do you think it's a good idea?
posted by Irontom at 11:39 AM on September 4, 2002


Do you want to live under those kinds of conditions?

Of course not, and nothing in my comments implied as such. I think you're extrapolating for dramatic effect. While I do not support the implementation of premature ideas such as the implants, I do support research and discussion that could lead to more viable options. Okay? Do I need to state it more simply still?
posted by boomchicka at 11:58 AM on September 4, 2002


actually, you can get chips like these for pets

Well, no. The type of implantable id chips currently available only act as a replacement for conventional tags. You need to pass a microchip reader over the animal to read the chip. They are not a remote locating device like the system being proposed here.

Here's my question: cattle ranchers have been using electronically-readable "tags" for years, using these to manage their "inventory" and control how often and how much an individual animal is fed. Once these implants are put into people, how long would it be before the government/big business begins routinely scanning ballparks and shopping malls for "targeted" individuals?
posted by SPrintF at 11:59 AM on September 4, 2002


It's a funny thing. If as Warwick would like, all children get the chips, eventually those children will grow up to be adults, at which point, everyone willl have chips. But at that point, having grown up with the chips, we will appreciate the warm sense of security we get from knowing that the government is tracking us for our own protection like a loving, older brother. I've always wanted to have a big brother.
posted by 4easypayments at 11:59 AM on September 4, 2002


Hmmmmm... I can just hear the wheels clicking in John Ashcroft's brain(?) right now...

Tracking implants + Middle Eastern Immigrants and visitors (Except those from Saudi Arabia, of course) = Homeland Security!
posted by TCMITS at 12:00 PM on September 4, 2002


Regarding the "orwellian slippery slope," a lot of technology can be used for god or bad. It's up to us as a society to carefully consider the pros and cons of an idea like this and see that it is implemented such that it does more good than harm. Orwell showed us one possible scenario, it's up to us to try to prevent it.
I don't have kids and I don't intend to have kids. I can see other benefits to chipping technology such as for keeping track of pets (already being done), tracking criminals (as solalinda mentioned above), storing medical information in case of an emergency (drug allergies, other conditions), or keeping track of Alzheimer's patients who have wandered off. Some of these uses don't require tracking, like the medical data, only storing for scanning on the spot.
And of course I think such a system should be entirely voluntary with the owner able to switch it off at will.
posted by ukamikanasi at 12:08 PM on September 4, 2002


Oops - a lot of technology can be used for good or bad
Freudian slip? :)
posted by ukamikanasi at 12:11 PM on September 4, 2002


Why do they have to be implants though? I suggest a trial run of simply having a nondescript tracking device disguised as jewelry like a ring or a wristwatch. If the kid takes it off, then the parents will punish him/her if they're so inclined. This will satisfy the parents need of just knowing where their child was, which is what I'm figuring is the major thing here.

If crazy psycho murderer takes it off, then at the very least it could have a history of locations, so the parents and authorities would know where the child last was.

I realize this isn't as good as something where the kidnapper can't get to it, but as others have mentioned, slicing off limbs isn't out of the question for crazies. And I also don't have the statistic, but if I remember correctly kidnapped children are murdered fairly quickly after they are kidnapped. (? Please correct me if I'm wrong.)
posted by Stan Chin at 12:18 PM on September 4, 2002


According to this press release, "In the United States, some 4,600 children are abducted each year, 300 of whom are abducted by strangers. Typically, about 100 of the children abducted by strangers are murdered, the vast majority within three hours of being abducted."

That means that if your child is abducted by a stranger, you've got a 2 in 3 chance that your child will not be murdered. The unfortunate part is this - most of those who are murdered are dead within 3 hours, and it generally takes 2 hours or so for the police to get involved.
posted by Irontom at 12:24 PM on September 4, 2002


Well, no. The type of implantable id chips currently available only act as a replacement for conventional tags.

this used to be true but now these chips do more than just hold i.d. information. article on salon and a company that makes the chips
posted by chrisroberts at 1:12 PM on September 4, 2002


<ot>

jfwlucy: i believe the three seashell references the movie Demolition Man. This kind of technology was prevalent in that film.

</ot>
posted by quin at 1:56 PM on September 4, 2002


Why do they have to be implants though? I suggest a trial run of simply having a nondescript tracking device disguised as jewelry like a ring or a wristwatch.

You mean like the locator watches from Wherify Wirleless? These were discussed here several months back, with mostly the same "orwellian slippery slope" arguments.
posted by Lokheed at 2:15 PM on September 4, 2002


In order to achieve the desired effect, you need a locator, e.g. GPS, and a transmitter of some sort, e.g. a cell phone.

The problem is that both of these technologies are fairly easy to block (neither work within my home).

In the UK a certain company with thousands of vans decided to use GPS/GSM to track them. The drivers didn't like this and soon discovered that they could block the GPS receivers by placing a damp rag over the receiver.

Security x Freedom = K, where K is a constant
posted by daveg at 3:45 PM on September 4, 2002


*ding ding ding*

Quin gets a prize.

This is one of those things that are great on paper, baaad in practice. Some people will find a way to abuse the hell out of this sooner or later, because that's the way it is with just about all new technology it seems. To me, it's almost like putting a leash on your kid. I wouldn't want to deny my kid the experiences I had as a young'un. You learn from living, not from abstaining.
posted by spungfoo at 4:24 PM on September 4, 2002


Anyway, we give them to our pets, so why not our kids?

That, by the way, is exactly what bothered me so much about the pet implants in the first place.
posted by Mars Saxman at 5:53 PM on September 4, 2002


Kevin Warwick is a publicity seeking idiot. His whole cyborgs-r-us thing is quite simply becoming embarrasing.

This review of his latest book skewers him nicely. Also, The Register has had many harsh, but justified, things to say about his somewhat flexible interpretation of what is technologically possible.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 6:35 PM on September 4, 2002


These guys are offering $250 to have a chip implanted in your hand which you can use to make monetary transactions over the internet. Some people are not amused.
posted by Wet Spot at 6:36 PM on September 4, 2002


and in the future the chip will be used to identify you as you walk into a store so ads can be directed at you personally, as in minority report?
posted by bwg at 7:48 PM on September 4, 2002


But, what about the children????!!!!????
posted by acridrabbit at 8:00 PM on September 4, 2002


Mongorians tear down my chity wall!
posted by raaka at 9:58 PM on September 4, 2002


I might just be being a nasty old cynic, but to my mind, the guardian article (and the rest) just make her more of a target.

Evil Kidnapper: "Oh, a girl with a trackable chip huh?, well let's see if it actually does work"

Police: [shaking device] "err, is this thing on?"

Might as well just put her out in the street with a sign round her neck saying "kidnap me". So, so stupid.
posted by pixeldiva at 5:04 AM on September 5, 2002


Come on... what is this, Total Recall or something?

Microchip implants = bad idea

Do we really want to go there? Just because the technology exists doesn't mean it makes life better or easier. If someone wants to take your daughter and rape her, kill her, whatever... he/she will.

It still comes down to sick demented people being the problem. No microchip in Sally's neck will stop them.
posted by Witty at 6:02 AM on September 5, 2002


bwg: I thought that in Minority Report you were recognised by remote retinal scanners?
posted by adrianhon at 6:24 AM on September 5, 2002


does anyone else get a bit unnerved about the orwellian "slippery slope" of this idea?

More than a bit unnerved - particularly when it simply will not work as there are so many easy ways to block radio signals without the mess and inconvenience of removing limbs, not to mention the miniscule probability of the average child being taken. Some compromises for the sake of safety are made, but the trade-off here is all wrong.

Kind of the same waste of time and resources as putting nets on beaches to catch sharks that end up killing more dolphins, whales and other harmless creatures than they do sharks when sharks are, in reality, no significant danger to humans.
posted by dg at 7:41 AM on September 6, 2002


adrianhon, that's correct, but i suggested the implant might be used in a similar way.

either way would annoy the hell out of me, i think.
posted by bwg at 8:23 AM on September 6, 2002


« Older Recommendations   |   It's official, Napster is dead Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments