Saturday, August 05, 2006


If someone has already posted on this, while I was looking out the window, I apologize, however:

A fellow by the name of Marlin Schneider, a dem rep in the Wisconsin state legislature has proposed a law to prohibit anyone from requiring people to have tiny chips embedded in them or doing so without their knowledge. Violators would face fines of up to $10,000

This seems a little redundant -- what with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I mean, if these people aren't deterred by either of those, or by the whole intent of the founding fathers, or by common decency, then I doubt this little piece of legislation will cause them to say: "oh, my! now we really can't get away with this."

Any thoughts? Mayhap there is actually a gigantic loophole in our legal system that says: while it is not okay to beat or rape Miss Booth, nor can the government enter her domicile without a warrant, it is quite alright for anyone who feels like to stick a freaking microchip under her skin. Please tell me that we don't need a new law for this one; surely that is already illegal.


Dante said...

"a law to prohibit anyone from requiring people to have tiny chips embedded in them" [emphasis mine]

I think this part is a far more important piece than the latter, which seems to be your major concern.

The situation I can think of where this law would be neccessary is one where you must embed the chip to join or use some service. For example, there is a bar I read about overseas that uses embedded RFID tags for keeping track of bar tabs. It's optional but a law like this would prevent it from being mandatory.

Imagine everyone from your bank to your gym requiring you to have some sort of tag embedded in order to receive service.

Dante said...

Now if they could just pass a smilar law for cutomer loyalty cards...

petallic said...

Interestingly, ruby, I just had a conversation about this with my family this past weekend. We were enjoying some cake at my twin nephews' first birthday party when my sister, the mother of the twins, said something about how she wished the government would implant chips in children to keep track of them, so she wouldn't worry all the time about their future (and because her 2-year old daughter likes to hide in closets). When I questioned her logic, my entire family looked at me as if I were some commie bastard.

Every single one of them was completely okay with embedding chips in people. My brother-in-law even said, "Why, petallic, are you going someplace you're ashamed of?" Seriously, I felt like I was in some sort of 1984 alternate reality. When I jokingly said, "The bathroom," they just rolled their eyes and continued the conversation. None of them seemed to think chips infringed on our personal freedom, because "tracking criminals would be worth that tiny loss of freedom."

If the government has their finger on the pulse of America, and if my family is even quasi-average, then I'd say this sort of thing will happen within our lifetimes.

Dante said...

We're still a long way away from embedded chips that could efectively keep track of people in the way petallic is saying. The most common type of embedded chip at present is the passive RFID tag. Such a tag is powered by the radio waves running across the tag. Needless to say, something with such minimal power requirements has a very short effective range. Real-time people tracking isn't really feasible under such a system since you'd have to have a whole lot of scaners deployed. Realistically, a scanner would have to be within a foot of the tag. So for say a 150,000 sq ft mall (which is kind of small for a modern mall), you'd need about 150,000 scanners. Making a few spatial assumptions (like people can't walk through walls), you're probably still dealing with at least several thousand of the suckers.

You could boost the signal with a power source but how would you embed the chip and the power source.

I'm not saying this is an imossible task, but much like the flying car I'd say we're even money at best on whether real people tracking is something that will happen in our lifetimes. The technology is here but a solution based on the technology would be rather cumbersome and expensive.

ruby booth said...

dante, for the record, i find both horrifying, and i'm pretty sure both are illegal. i just find it more amazing that the second would be open to question, since a lot of people seem to be a bit dim on the first.

DiavoliWindman said...

The two sources you cited, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, do not, in general, criminalize behavior. The Constitution as a whole and the Bill of Rights in particular typically proscribe certain governmental activities (discriminating against you based on race, gender or nationality, confiscating all the assault rifles in Michigan, etc..). It looks as though the Wisconsin law is aimed at private activity, which makes it, properly, the province of the State legislauture.

In other words, there are a lot of things that would be violations of Constitutional rights if they involved government action. Murder’s always a fun example. If the Tennessee State Legislature passed a law condemning you personally to death (i.e., § 143.25 Being Ruby Booth Prohibited. (1) No person may be Ruby Booth; (2) Any person who violates sub. (1) shall be put immediately to death), that would violate pretty much all of your rights, but, notably, among the violations would be a violation of the Constitutional prohibition on bills of attainder, as well as violations to your rights of due process of law, trial by jury, freedom of speech, etc.. Nevertheless, we have statutes that criminalize murder because, as a general rule, it isn’t the legislature you’re afraid of in a blind alley.

The Wisconsin law appears to be along these same lines. It’s a crime in Wisconsin to require anyone to have a chip embedded in his or her skin. Presumably the purpose of the chip would be about what you’d expect: credit cards, gas pump pay-and-go, security access, etc. In Wisconsin, you can’t tell your employees that, if they want to continue working for you, they have to have a chip implanted in the right arm, just above the wrist, in lieu of, say, requiring the wearing of a security card on one of those handy little belt clips.