Imagine this if you will. You are sitting in a train- or bus-station, or anywhere else you may have to wait a while, and there is a vending machine in front of you. You've been there for some time already and still have a bit to wait. You start to feel hungry and the chocolate bar on display just seems to be shouting out at you to "take me, take me". So, you get up and walk to the vending machine. Life is easy – you don't need money so you don't have to search for change or worry about the machine being able to give you change. The machine will read your implanted identification device and automatically take the cost of the chocolate bar from your bank account.
So, you key in the code for the chocolate bar.
Within seconds an automated voice says, "Sorry, we are unable to process your request. Your Body Mass Index exceeds the maximum for receipt of this item. As an alternative if you would like the apple, please press 1; for the banana press 2; or for the orange press 3. To cancel your request press 5 and return to your seat."
"FICTION", I hear you cry. Sadly, this may be FACT sooner than you think.
A Facebook friend yesterday posted something on my wall. It looked like 'just another evangelical message' but I decided to have a look anyway because something about it roused my curiosity.
The video was a pastor telling us we are on the verge of the end of times because very soon mankind will carry the mark of the beast as forseen in the book of Revelations. He was referring to Revelations Chapter 13 verse 13 onwards and linking this to some 'recent' legislation.
Well, you can call me sceptical but I didn't see the connection myself until I started to dig a bit deeper.
The legislation in question is a "little" thing called Obamacare and it would appear this was designed to be his signature piece of domestic work as President. Checking the text of 'Obamacare' (and there is a LOT of text – over 1000 pages) you first notice, of course, the title:
H. R. 3200
To provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce
the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes.
Well, gee, I have to say I'd sign up for that straight away. Wouldn't you.? Sounds like just the ticket for a country with no national health service. I can see why Obama would want this as his 'showpiece' legislation. Surely everyone will want this. Just think of the improvements in their lives if healthcare becomes more affordable and better quality for EVERYONE.
Press coverage at the time highlighted the benefits of better cover, more entitlement to subsidised or free care, better communication between healthcare services to provide unique tailored care for each individual, and so on. In fact, it seemed too good to be true. We didn't seem to hear much about it outside the US – presumably because it was considered to be a domestic issue with no international relevance.
Well, someone I very much respect once said "if it seems too good to be true, then it is too good to be true".
On closer inspection of this document you will find buried the invitation to Big Brother to come in and take over the lives of the Americans almost completely. This document is weighty, boring and long so I cannot for the life of me imagine the average American settling down with it as a 'good read'. However, hidden way back towards the end of this document there is reference to a medical device that is "implantable, life-supporting, or life-sustaining". There are other references in the document to this device which would apparently positively identify patients and automatically link any medical facility to the patient records. There would also be links through this device to either the patients bank account or other social records proving eligibility for free medical care or even current health insurance validity. The document highlights the need for all Americans to have such a device before 1 January 2013.
WOW!!! Rock on George Orwell – how could you possibly know?????
So, imagine my relief when I discovered that this Bill never made it into Law.
My research actually showed:
" The proposed America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (or HR 3200) was an unsuccessful bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 14, 2009." (Source: Wikipedia)
" To read, comment and link to the current health care reform bills in Congress, see the links below:
Instead the US Government adopted something called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) which was signed into law on 23 March 2010.
I did TRY to read this document (also very long, dry and boring). I'm not an expert in legalese or American jargon but it appeared to have done away with the idea of compulsory implantation of these identification devices.
WHAT A RELIEF.
I can't tell you how good that made me feel. No panic.
OR IS THERE???
My original research turned up an RFID as the device referred to so I started to ask myself, "what is an RFID?".
Well, it seems this stands for 'Radio Frequency Identification Device'. They can provide access to a LOT of information and the newest ones are only the size of a grain of rice. They are also implantable. The technology is already all around us. When we have our pets chipped we are using RFID technology. Some vehicles use it for tracking and quite a large number of businesses use it instead of barcodes these days for tracking sales, inventory and stock movement. But is there a more sinister side perhaps? Here are some examples that I found on the internet – let's start with something I'm sure most of us would find innocuous:
Texas-based DeviceFidelity developed a specialised microSD card which, when inserted into a mobile phone can be both a passive tag and an RFID reader though which a user's phone can be linked to banks accounts for use in mobile payment.
Another American company has started using RFIDs on mobile phones as part of a loyalty and rewards programme. Customers ask for an RFID tag. Once it is activated the phone receives promotions and coupons which the store can read.
Another well-known supermarket chain has introduced a touch-free payment system. Those joining the scheme are given a free Nokia 3220 phone. Once activated they can pay on their credit card via the mobile phone at any of this chain's worldwide stores.
Now, if you think Minority Report showed some far-fetched ideas with the advertising hoardings actually speaking to Tom Cruise by name (not his real name, of course, but his character in the film), think again. Bear in mind also that some of these RFID tags can be read from up to 100 metres away and can be read THROUGH an item. It is also possible to read 100s of RFID tags at a time:
In a clothing store, for example, the RFID can be used for advertising. When a customer enters a dressing room, the mirror reflects their image and also images of celebrities wearing the same item on an interactive display. At the same time a webcam projects the image of the customer wearing the item to the website.
RFID passports are now in use in Malaysia, Norway, Japan, Hong Kong, the USA, Serbia, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Albania, Australia, The Philippines, the Republic of Macedonia and most of the EU including the UK, Spain and Ireland. They record the date, time and place of entries and exits from the country.
Some theme parks insist children wear an RFID bracelet to they are easily found if they go missing.
"OK", I hear you say. Maybe science-fiction is becoming science-fact. But nothing here about implantation. Oh, no. Just read on:
It seems that in 2004 Conrad Chase was already offering implanted chips to his VIP customers in his night clubs in Barcelona and Rotterdam. The RFID chip identified them immediately as VIP customers and they used the RFID chip to pay for their drinks.
Another suggested use has been in vending machines. If the customer has an RFID tag they could make a selection and purchase from a vending machine without having any actual money with them as the amount would be automatically debited from the bank account. These tags could be implanted or via the mobile phone.
So, now we have implantation. BUT this was VOLUNTARY. Indeed, unless you were very rich and thought of by Mr Chase as a VIP you had no chance of getting an implant. In fact, I'm sure if you weren't already VERY rich indeed you probably needed to remortgage your house to pay for a drink in either of his night clubs.
BUT here is something entirely more sinister in my opinion:
Since 2004 a number of US hospitals have begun implanting patients with RFID tags and using RFID systems, usually for workflow and inventory management. (Source: Wikipedia).
So, now we have a miniature chip that through a unique number can link in to all your personal information, your medical records, your bank account details (all in real time) and act as a GPS tracking system.
It has, in some circles, been suggested that some individuals (for example, the elderly with Alzheimer's) should be tagged for their own safety.
Hmmmmm!!! So we start with external tags, then move to implanted tags for specific reasons, then we find reasons to implant tags and "persuade" those involved to co-operate (or, perhaps, those charged with their care).
So, JUST WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE.
After all, what happens in America today often happens here very soon!!!!
As someone who values personal privacy beyond almost everything else I have so far avoided having a photo driving licence and was so glad I got my passport before the new RFID ones were issued. This whole idea seems to be a gross erosion of personal privacy and I am very scared.