RFID Technology: From Tracking Criminals to Paying At Music Festivals

RFID technology continues to spread, with many new companies looking to incorporate the use of it. From boarding planes to getting access to beach clubs and paying for services, this technology is quickly making its way into the lives of many. Along with the trend in RFID chip technology is the use of other biometric identification; such as national IDs. Refugee camps around the world are using bio-id in order to keep track of the residents in the camps and to more efficiently distribute their goods and services. We can see the use of bio-identification growing in countries around the world like in the U.S., Israel, India, and other locations. Companies like Coca Cola and PayPal have sought to integrate this new technology into their services via RFID bracelets; with PayPal recently rolling-out its RFID payment system for the first time at a recent festival in Amsterdam. The RFID technology has also been used at other music festivals like Tomorrowland and Coachella. The market leader in this technology, VeriChip Corp, says that it has already distributed thousands of RFID microchips around the world and at least 2,000 have been implanted in humans.

Some have rushed to get implanted with the chip because they personally feel that using an RFID chip to pay for services would be more convenient for them than having to pull out their wallet. Others have volunteered themselves for implants so that they could receive a chip that would give them access to their employers office. And while many have been eager to volunteer themselves for the chip implant, we are also seeing a trend in propositions that call for the implementation of RFID technology by force on perhaps unwilling participants. Recently, Indonesian government expressed their own interest in using RFID technology to keep track of its sex offenders.


The Indonesian government is looking to introduce a law that will require any and all rapists and child sex offenders to be implanted with RFID microchips and it will track them 24 hours a day for the rest of their lives after released from prison. Those who don't want to submit to the microchip will also have the option to opt for chemical castration. Some correctional facilities in the United States have already sought to obtain and implement RFID technology for their own use. Thus far, there are more than 15 different correctional institutions in the U.S. that are using this technology. Supporters of the technology say that using RFID chips for not only inmates but for staff as well, that it will decrease the potential for violence. Currently, many of the correctional facilities are using an RFID bracelet for their inmates, rather than implanting them with a chip directly.


Government officials in Canada also recently proposed the solution of using forcible GPS chip technology in order to keep track of its own “prolific” and repeat offenders. The motion was recently introduced by Coun. Scott Nelson and it was passed by Williams Lake City Council just this year. “As you get out of jail, you are getting a shot of GPS and we are going to be tracking you 24 hours a day, 365 days... we'll know everything you do, where you are, what you are up to. If there is a sense of any criminal activity, back to the hoosegow you are going to go,” says Nelson. The city will now be looking to the provincial and federal government to help make the changes.


Unsurprisingly, civil liberties advocates and those educated on/familiar with the law and basic human rights, say that the program wouldn't be constitutional for many reasons. “We don't do pre-crime. We don't subject them to the violation of their bodily integrity by the government and put things inside of them,” said BCCLA policy director Micheal Vonn. She notes that it is acceptable to track those who are under bail conditions and parole, but not so when it comes to monitoring those who have completed their sentences but are considered to be “high risk” for re-offending. 


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