Nothing to see here, Big Brother

Published 3:05 pm Thursday, November 21, 2019

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The world around us is constantly changing. For the most part, change means growth and growth is positive. I try to keep up with technology; sometimes I must put on the brakes and say enough is enough.
This morning, I read an article about microchips implanted into humans. Now, we’re all familiar with the capability of microchips to track our pets that escape our loving care and sometimes travel long distances. Dogs and cats have gone missing for years only to be returned to their owners when they are scanned for microchips.
Subcutaneous microchips have been used in conjunction with medical alerts for patients with allergies to drugs and medical conditions such as diabetes or epilepsy. Medical appliances such as defibrillators and ports for chemotherapy deliver medications directly into the system. These devices can all be monitored and activated by microchips in the patient’s body.
Patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other disabilities which diminish their ability to reason can benefit from microchips that alert their caretakers when they leave the perimeter of their safe zone.
Just a few weeks ago, my new grandchild wore a monitor on her ankle in the hospital like those placed on the ankles of prisoners on house arrest. The chip in that monitor contained information that matched the baby with data on bracelets worn by her mother and father. Unlike the plastic bracelets worn by babies and parents in the past, these chips would have alerted staff with an electronic alarm had anyone other than the parents attempted to leave the hospital with the baby. I was grateful for that technology.
All the aforementioned applications for the use of microchips in humans are advancements that make sense to me. If the person wearing them has given consent, they should have the choice to use the technology.
I was surprised, however, to learn that humans are being microchipped for such things as payment for products and services rendered. Apparently, such usage is becoming commonplace.
No fishing around in your briefcase for tokens for public transportation – just scan the chip in your hand and you’re on your way.
Secure, keyless access to your home, office or car? Scan your chip and entre vous!
Or how about shopping? Casually walk through the store and bag the items you wish to purchase. As you leave the store, the scanner automatically charges the items to the credit or debit card programmed on the microchip beneath your skin.
Employers are now requiring staff to be microchipped for security reasons and to monitor productivity. In most cases, employee consent is required, but states are grappling with laws to protect the consumer.
In a world plagued by high-tech crimes, it is the unscrupulous use of such technology that has me concerned. We trust that the data placed on these microchips is accurate, for we can’t tell with the naked eye what is “written” on them. We trust that the use of the data will be ethical. We trust that the devices themselves are safe – that they will not cause harm – that their placement beneath our skin will not cause cancers or become dislodged and cause embolisms, heart attacks or strokes.
Overwhelmingly, I am concerned with the invasion of privacy.
Technology will continue to march us into the future, but I’m here to declare that I will not go gentle into that good night. I will not knowingly have a microchip placed under my skin. To do so without my consent would require a covert action by James Bond and a big tranquilizer shot by a zookeeper from a distance of at least 100 yards. Nope, I would never willingly allow such an intrusion into my body or my privacy.
My memoir was published two years ago. There are no deeper layers of my persona. No secrets. My life is mind-numbingly boring.
I’m sure microchips are convenient and would save me a good deal of time, but I don’t need more time. I’m retired. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

Anne Carmichael is a lifestyle columnist who contributes to The Jessamine Journal monthly.

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