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Won't somebody think of the children?
October 10, 2003 4:35 AM   Subscribe

Won't somebody think of the children? Wired News reports that a Mexican company has launched a service to implant RFID verichips (Technology That Cares) into children as an anti-kidnapping device. "The company envisions placing walk-through scanners -- similar to metal-detector portals used in airports -- in malls, bus stations and other areas where a missing child may appear." Similar plans have been proposed before by the UK's Kevin "Captain Cyborg" Warwick, but while his plans to use the mobile phone network are implausible, this method seems more feasible. So, why not sign up to get chipped today!
posted by TheophileEscargot (14 comments total)

 
lets hope some enterprising kidnapper doesn't get the bright idea to cut the chip out.
posted by mcsweetie at 6:46 AM on October 10, 2003


Would a tin-foil hat/armband/whatever help?
posted by jfinnis at 7:19 AM on October 10, 2003


If I was traveling in certain parts of the world like the sub-sahara or Georgia or the Philippines I would seriously consider it, or somthing like it.
posted by stbalbach at 7:21 AM on October 10, 2003


Some more thoughts...

Kevin Warwick's implanted-miniature-cellphone plan was organizationally plausible, but not yet technically possible. Phones are still too large to be easily implanted, but the batteries are the biggest problem, unless someone can figure out a way to charge them through the skin. Also, while Warwick has had (much smaller) experimental implants put in himself, they're strictly temporary. The hole in the skin offers a path for infection, and so he has to have the implants removed after a matter of days or weeks.

On the other hand, while this method seems technically plausible (dogs are already being chipped this way) it would require a lot of expenditure and maintenance to keep enough of these scanners going in shopping malls and bus terminals throughout the country. Also, as mcsweetie pointed out, a kidnapper could always cut out the chip.

What's interesting is that this idea keeps coming up. There are pretty clearly large numbers of parents who want to put tracking chips in their children. I think it's mainly just a matter of waiting for the technology to get there.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:34 AM on October 10, 2003


who else but the good guys could use it to track me?
posted by dabitch at 8:01 AM on October 10, 2003


"walk-through scanners in malls, bus stations and other areas where a missing child may appear."

I swear to God people just don't get it. How hard would it be for kidnappers to avoid places with walk through scanners? Turning off common sense in the name of security doesn't lead to more security.

"I would seriously consider it, or something like it."

Can you please explain why? Do you really think your Philippine kidnappers are going to take you to the mall?

I'm asking because I really want to understand the thought process here. It seems like a no-brainer to me that this would be worthless. But everyday, and starting with our government, I see people willing to jump on the latest "security" fad.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:14 AM on October 10, 2003


How hard would it be for kidnappers to avoid places with walk through scanners? Do you really think your Philippine kidnappers are going to take you to the mall?

Maybe harder than you think. Not all those who kidnap people stay deep in the woods with their captures, you know. Also: (a) the kidnapper might not know about the chip, (b) the kidnapper might be stupid and not THINK about the chip (c) there might be a sort of moveable scanner and/or GPS homer component to the chip that might make physical searches for the kidnap victim possible, (d) at the very least, it could aid in identifying remains, vetting Stockholm-syndromed or unknowing kidnap victims, that sort of thing.

It seems like a no-brainer to me that this would be worthless.

It works for pets. Thousands of people get their pets returned to them every day due to this technology, it's not some lark. Although there are some real issues, medical and perhaps ethical, I can't see any obvious reason it couldn't work similarly for people.
posted by UncleFes at 9:20 AM on October 10, 2003


In a similar theme: Soldiers often have their blood types tattooed onto them somewhere obvious. People with medical conditions wear those medic-alert bracelets. Coding that sort of info onto an implanted chip could be very valuable in an emergency.
posted by UncleFes at 9:23 AM on October 10, 2003


Hmmm... with pets I thought it was more of an identification issue. It's hard to identify a particular dog or cat from a photo, and they frequently can't tell you their name. Also, with children you can do a DNA test comparing them to their parents.

I suppose chipping babies might be more worthwhile though.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:28 AM on October 10, 2003


the chip might be placed somewhere inside the body where it would be difficult for a kidnapper to remove it without killed the kidnappee. The ultimate result could easily be fewer kidnappings - the kidnapper doesn't know who has and who has not got the chip, can't remove it without escalating the crime toward something capital... maybe they'll decide that being a kidnapper isn't a great job choice after all. That would be the overall goal, in my view: making kidnapping a crime that truly does not pay, as opposed to the patently false Justice League aphorism of similar theme.
posted by UncleFes at 9:34 AM on October 10, 2003


UncleFes... and when the child grows up and wants the chip removed... a life-risking operation to get it taken out.. or go around permanently chipped?
posted by Blue Stone at 9:43 AM on October 10, 2003


Of course... if babies and children were routinely chipped... what's the guess that governments would create laws mandating that everyone would have to be chipped?
Once it's commonplace, and all that.

666, or what?
posted by Blue Stone at 9:45 AM on October 10, 2003


I can't speak to the kidnapping thing, but as the parent of an autistic child who is unable to speak for himself if lost I would jump at a reliable technology to help identify and locate him in an emergency. Relatives of Alzheimer's patients would probably also leap at such a thing.

I'm just saying that there are legitimate circumstances in which this kind of technology would be extremely beneficial.
posted by Lokheed at 9:47 AM on October 10, 2003


UncleFes... and when the child grows up and wants the chip removed... a life-risking operation to get it taken out.. or go around permanently chipped?

Well, "dangerous" for a kidnapper using a Swiss Army knife might be not so dangerous for a doctor in a hospital setting. Think appendix removal. For a doctor at the hospital? no sweat, you're home in a day. But if you had to do it in your kitchen with an exacto and a copy of Gray's...? Different story entirely.

And it wouldn't necessarily have to be located somewhere *dangerous* I suppose. Perhaps just locating it somewhere unobtrusive would suffice.

what's the guess that governments would create laws mandating that everyone would have to be chipped?

They might take a shot at it, but they'd certainly get a fight against mandatory chipping. I mean, look at the struggle against helmet laws, and you can take those things off.

as for the 666 thing, well, I think we all have seen that technology and mythology have historically been uneasy bedmates :)
posted by UncleFes at 9:57 AM on October 10, 2003


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