We Can, But Should We? Essay

Radio frequency identification, also known as RFID, is a breakthrough in technology and could just be the next big step in surveillance - We Can, But Should We? Essay introduction. Yet, how far is one willing to go to be sure that all of their past history is accurate? This sounds a little like George Orwell’s 1984; a chip inserted into one’s skin, embedded with data that can be transferred to a reading device and be read? Someone could be able to know every little thing about another person just by transferring data; sounds a little scary. RFID isn’t just for tracking patient’s data, according to Daniel Sieberg’s Is RFID tracking you? “it can be used to identify missing pets, monitor vehicle traffic, track livestock to help prevent disease outbreaks, and follow pharmaceuticals to fight counterfeit drugs”. So, although this technology has been around and has been used for many different things, the question is, should someone insert this RFID VeriChip into their skin and allow another to read their data? According to msnbc. com’s article FDA approves computer chip for humans: Devices could help doctors with stored medical information, “The VeriChip itself contains no medical records, just codes that can be scanned, and revealed, in a doctor’s office or hospital.

With that code, the health providers can unlock that portion of a secure database that holds that person’s medical information, including allergies and prior treatment. The electronic database, not the chip, would be updated with each medical visit. ” Yet, the device could also track people’s movements and send the data to a reading device before the patient even shows up to the office or hospital. Without adequate protection, the VeriChip can cause more harm than good. Sieberg explains, “hackers and analysts are exposing potentially serious problems…hackers could copy medical information from a RFID chip. To protect patient privacy, the chip should only contain the essential information needed to care for someone, like blood type and allergies. However, one of the biggest problems in healthcare is medical records; most of it is done on paper, which is hard to manage and easy to misplace. Msnbc. com’s article explains, “pushing for the strongest encryption algorithms to ensure hackers can’t nab medical data as information transfers from chip to reader to secure database, will help address privacy concerns. ” Still, if the strongest encryptions do not work, the most talented hackers may be able to read one’s private medical history.

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The kind of RFID that is becoming widely used has no power source, and can send information over tens of feet…RFID’s potential for misuse and abuse is quite trivial,” (Sieberg, 2006). Yet, the companies that will make and use RFID will have a responsibility to be sure that the technology is safe and secure. The Food and Drug administration has approved the chip. When the chip was approved, according to Joseph Brownstein of Do Chip Implants Protect or Violate Privacy? , “it mentioned potential problems, including electromagnetic interference, failure of the chip to function properly and adverse bodily reactions. The FDA’s letter never described the probability or severity of these risks. Brownstein interviewed Silverman, who had an RFID chip implanted years before it was approved by the FDA, and Silverman explained he never experienced any of the potential risks. Yet, there are less invasive ways to accomplish the same goal. The Medic-Alert bracelet contains a medical symbol on the front with the patient’s medical condition on the inside; still, some argue the bracelet can be taken off or even break off more easily than the RFID chip can crash.

The controversy surrounding RFID will not end anytime soon, yet a question needs to be answered; is the VeriChip the way of the future? Handwritten documents and medical records are easily lost and when asked, many do not know their past medical history, blood type, or allergies. The RFID is a powerful technology that at times may be safe, however could be hacked. Anyone can have someone’s personal and private information at their fingertips at any given moment. Those experienced in computers and hacking can easily make their way through encryptions and acquire confidential information.

And, as the FDA has explained, the VeriChip can cause bodily harm, which includes; burns after exposure to radiation, sustained hypertension, possible stroke, cardiac problems, and more according to the FDA website. This chip is not the way of the future. There are more secure and non-invasive ways to track someone’s past history that doesn’t consist of implanting a chip into a human being.

References

Brownstein. (2007, March 18). Do Chip Implants Protect or violate Privacy? Retrieved November 18, 2010, from abcnews. go. com: http://abcnews. go. com/Health/ActiveAging/story? d=3186229&page=1 FDA approves computer chip for humans. (2004, October 13). Retrieved November 18, 2010, from msnbc. com: http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/6237364/ns/health-health_care Food and Drug Administration. (2007, June 4). Retrieved November 18, 2010, from www. hhs. gov: http://www. accessdata. fda. gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfmaude/detail. cfm? mdrfoi__id=871376 Sieberg, D. (2006, July 10). Is RFID Tracking You? Retrieved November 18, 2010, from Cnn. com: http://articles. cnn. com/2006-07-10/tech/rfid_1_rfid-industry-rfid-journal-rfid-chips/2? _s=PM:TECH

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