Saturday, 3 March 2007

5:6 From identity card to implanted identity chip.

The other great new technology is the identity chip. We call it the chip rather than the old-fashioned card because it is no longer a piece of paper, with all the limitations of that medium. Looked at in one way, it is your own personal sensor. It will contain biological information, the iris of the eye, the finger-print, DNA and this will be enough to make it unique, along with an unique identifier. It will be linked by wireless communication to central computers to all the other files. Critics will say that it is a form of electronic tagging for the whole population and they are, of course, right. But that is not how to present it.

By linking this personal tag to your criminal, medical, educational, tax, employment, census, financial, driving licence and other records, and constantly updating all of these with information from the sensors, the e-mails and phone surveillance, it will be possible to know all about a person. Whenever a State authority wants to check them out, he or she could put the card into a personalized wireless hand-held computer and have access to everything about the suspect . When this is done, the bureau of personal files is complete. The crude bureaucratic surveillance imagined in Bentham’s Panopticon, a prison with open plan and a central watcher, will be as nothing to this. The clumsy surveillance imagined by Huxley and Orwell, or attempted by Stalin and Chairman Mao, will be stone age technology when compared to this bureaucratic control.

And if, for a moment, you worry that all these files will be kept on you too, remember the old saying that ‘those who have nothing to hide, having nothing to fear’. As long as you have never been involved in legal cases, never been seriously overdrawn on a credit card or bank, never had any serious illnesses, have no recessive genes or genetic disorders, have never committed driving offences, never joined any suspect organization, never visited a pornographic web-site, never had any friends who, maybe unknown to you, are involved in suspect activities, never seriously criticized the State, then you have nothing to fear.

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