Living in the Age of Uberveillance

Dear Editor

I am writing in response to the article written by Katherine Danks titled: “Keeping crims on track from space” which appeared on the 12th of September on page 16. I am all for security for the sake of the common good but the widespread introduction of these kinds of tracking technologies without the commensurate consideration of socio-ethical implications means they are not a viable solution. Our human rights are at stake if we do not assess these technologies properly before deployment.

Since 2006, some Australian cricketers have been using location-based body wearable technologies, strapped to various parts of their bodies, to record their match fitness levels and productivity on the field. Observers have noted that some players may even have attempted to alter their match stats by keeping their heart rate up in between deliveries, or trying to run faster between wickets! The bottom line is that these technologies are not infallible. They can be duped.

The problem with attempting to play God is that we can never have total knowledge of proceedings, no matter what technologies we use to look up people remotely to ensure that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. At best we can have near-presence, everywhere and simultaneously but this too cannot solely be relied upon due to technical and other resource limitations.

In short, technology cannot be trusted because the complete picture will always be missing. Ironically the new technologies will be susceptible to manipulation, misrepresentation, and misinterpretation of information. The impairment of data in this new breed of high-tech gadgetry is a risk that many have underestimated, if at all considered.

While we are not all wearing a “ball and chain” yet- our smart phones are strapped to us all day and at arm’s length at night. These devices are already monitoring our identity through a SIM card, our location through onboard GPS chipsets, and our activities through accelerometers. The only thing that’s left really is for us to herald in the age of the almighty implant through radio-frequency identification.


Recently, South Australia’s Police Commissioner Mal Hyde stated that there were quite a few different groups of people he’d like to see microchipped despite the acknowledgement that this kind of proposal would never see the light of day. But he did add that the future might bring a lot of different possibilities. A Sunshine Coast MP Peter Wellington was also cited as saying that he would like to see child sex offenders microchipped.

And it was only a few months ago that wearable GPS monitoring devices were embraced by the Queensland State Government for use in paedophiles, and sufferers of mental illness. Which will be the next minority group in society to be tagged before the track and trace technology is widely diffused into society?

Katina Michael, Associate Professor, School of Information Systems and Technology, University of Wollongong

Unpublished work. SMH did not print.

The Microchipping of People and the Uberveillance Trajectory

First came i-mode and then the iBook. Next the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Is it only a matter of time before we see the iPlant suddenly make its debut onto the global market? This is a real possibility for your future: a subdermal microchip implant that will potentially give you ubiquitous connexity- always on, always with you, 24x7x365.

The term “uberveillance”, coined by MG Michael in 2005, is defined in the Macquarie Dictionary as an omnipresent electronic surveillance facilitated by technology that makes it possible to embed surveillance devices in the human body. In that same year, the Parliament of Australia’s Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs published: "The Real Big Brother: Inquiry into the Privacy Act 1988”. Chapter three on “emerging technologies” addresses the role that microchip implants in humans could play in the future.

The idea of implanting technology into people is not new. The first implantable cardiac pacemaker was created in 1958. Since then, we have seen the introduction of the cochlear implant to help the deaf to hear and the brain pacemaker to aid those suffering with epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, major depression and other diseases.

However, human implant technology is getting cheaper, easier to access and looks increasingly like it is going to be part of your everyday future life.

So-called “do-it-yourselfer implantees”, like Jonathan Oxer of Melbourne and Joe Wooller of Perth, have had implants inserted their bodies using a short procedure and is similar to getting one’s cat or dog chipped.  Oxer modified his house so that his self-inserted implant would act as an automatic key.  Wooller can open the doors to his house, car and motorbike with a swipe of his hand.

The microchip implant, most commonly a passive radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag, carries a unique pin that identifies the chip.  How does this let you open a door?. An antenna in close proximity to the chip triggers the RFID tag embedded in the body and the unique ID is transmitted to a reader, which is programmed to grant access to the person transmitting that ID (but may also do so for a potential hacker).

Opening doors using a unique RFID tag is elementary when compared to the role that microchip implants play in brain pacemakers. But the potential for implanting citizens with microchip technology has been considered to be beneficial on several fronts. Proponents of microchipping people often state that implants would signal the end of credit card fraud, losing your keys, kidnapping, even a partial solution to reducing carbon emissions. The most popular argument is often connected to national security. This is despite the reality that RFID is the most insecure ID technology in the market. The loss of privacy in any of these or other contexts is an issue which needs to continually be addressed.

Microchips are set to bring new life to a whole gambit of control applications. It was only a few months ago that wearable GPS monitoring devices were embraced by the Queensland State Government for use by paedophiles and sufferers of mental illness. Australian cricketers have been using body wearable technologies to record their match fitness levels and productivity since 2006. We are now talking about the mainstream commercialisation of such technology solutions, along with a movement from wearable to implant technology.  Microchips will provide us with the ability to locate, track and monitor people and provide data such as longitude and latitude coordinates of an individual down to a metre, as well as their speed, distance, time stamps, altitude, direction, temperature, heart rate, pulse rate and other physiological measures.

RFID implants for humans are now clearly on the political agenda. Recently, South Australia’s Police Commissioner Mal Hyde stated that there were quite a few different groups of people he’d like to see microchipped.  And Sunshine Coast MP Peter Wellington was widely cited as saying that he would like to see child sex offenders microchipped.

The question is how long it will take for integrated solutions based on microchip implants to surface in everyday applications and how the law will deal with the continued rise of new and disruptive technologies which have the capacity to change just about everything. The problem is that, in many instances, legislation will offer few permanent or secure solutions, leaving the question open to the broad spectrum of ethics and debates involving moral judgments.

Citation: An adapted version of this piece was published as follows: Katina Michael, September 12, 2011, "The Microchipping of People and the Uberveillance Trajectory", The Social Interface,

After 5 Years



After Five Years Increasingly journals are using a variety of measures to benchmark the quality of their publications. Upon reflection one can source numerous statistics from reliable sources to find key indicators that showcase both the breadth and depth of relevance of a journal within a global academic and industry community of practice. We thought it especially important to present some key indicators in this editorial, which will illustrate both the impact the journal has had over the last five years, and the positive course it is on in the next five years. These figures are a celebration not only for the editorial board and review board but for the many individual researchers who have painstakingly undertaken their research and sought to publish in the journal, despite its relative infancy. May these indicators continue to attract more international contributors as we seek to build on the robust foundations laid in the first five years. In the next five years, we will focus on maintaining the academic rigor displayed to date, while making it even easier for authors to submit their manuscripts and track their papers through the review process online. Since its inception, the Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research (JTAER) has had a citation count that is comparable to the first four years reflected by other electronic commerce (EC) centric journals in the Scopus data base. To this end JTAER can claim that it is on a similar trajectory to the other electronic commerce journals that preceded it. JTAER was included in the Scopus data base in 2008.

Table 1 shows the number of JTAER citations significantly rising particularly after the journal’s inclusion in the Scopus data base. On average the journal publishes about 22 papers per annum. The partial count from the 2011 Scopus data base indicated in July that 32 citations had already been recorded for JTAER. Please note that the SNIP and SJR for 2010 were last updated in September 2010. In the Scopus data base JTAER’s h-index is 8. This is one of several indicators that will continue to strengthen over the short-term. While the h-index is not often favorable to newly established journals, in this instance 8 is a good starting point from which to work on [1].

Authors per Country

The global appeal of JTAER is demonstrated by the breadth of the authors’ affiliations and countries. There have been two-hundred and fifty authors from thirty-two countries who have had their work published in JTAER, indicating that the journal has reached a global audience, and its relevance is sustained despite national administrative boundaries. The number of authors from each country can be found in Figure 1.

Journal’s Website Statistics

JTAER’s website has a new section labeled Statistics, where you will be able to find the following report options: • Downloads per year • Ranking of Articles by Downloads • Search per Author/Article • Scopus Citations • Google Scholar Citations

The Downloads per year option provides statistics about the number of downloads from JTAER’s website in a calendar year. Clicking on a particular year, allows one to obtain the number of downloads for each month of that selected year. The Ranking of Articles by Downloads option shows the published article ranked by the total number of downloads. Those articles with the greater number of downloads will be listed first. There is also the additional option of specifying a particular date period to obtain a ranking. The Search per Author/Article option helps you to initiate a search for a published article title or an author surname. In both cases, this option will show the number of downloads, the Scopus citations and the Google scholar citations. The Scopus citations option shows a ranking of published articles based on the Scopus citations, indicating the citations per article. The Google scholar citations option shows a ranking of published articles based on the Google scholar citations, indicating the citations per article. All of these features should enable authors, researchers, and practitioners to gain access to valuable statistics for a variety of purposes, including career development evidence, reviews of literature, and impact analysis by paper. As we continue to attract funding for our innovative online journal portal, even more features will be added. Please write to the Editor in Chief with suggestions you might have to build further feature-rich tools on the JTAER web site.

Best Reviewer of the Year 2010 Award

We are pleased to announce that the Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research’s Best Reviewers for the year 2010 are:

• Dr. Antonio Ruiz-Martinez of the Department of Information and Communications Engineering, Faculty of Computer Sciences, University of Murcia, Spain.

• Dr. Carlos Orús of the Department of Marketing Management and Market Research, Faculty of Economics and Business Studies, University of Zaragoza, Spain.

• Dr. Karin Axelsson of the Department of Management and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Linköping University, Sweden.

• Dr. Ygal Bendavid of the School of Management, Department of Management & Technology, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Canada.

These four researchers have frequently served the Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research in a reviewing capacity, and the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Editors have regarded their review reports as outstanding. The criteria used to select the best reviewers of year 2010 were: the presentation and clarity; relevance; accuracy; appropriateness; consistency and contribution of the feedback provided to authors.

On behalf of the Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research, we would like to extend to Antonio, Carlos, Karin, and Ygal our congratulations on their achievement and our thanks for the contributions they have made to reviewing in our journal. We would like to give an extra special congratulation to Karin, Antonio and Carlos, who have obtained the best reviewer award for the second time.

Coming Special Issue

We have currently one special issue planned for 2012. The August issue will be dedicated to Qualitative Approaches to eMarketing and Online Consumer Behaviour and will be guest edited by Inma Rodríguez-Ardura (University of Oxford), Gerard Ryan (Universitat Rovira i Virgili), and Ulrike Gretzel (University of Wollongong). Full manuscript submissions will be accepted until the 30th of November 2011 and the deadline for final acceptance notification is the 15th of April 2012. Please see the Call for Paper for more information.

Narciso Cerpa Editor-in-Chief

Katina Michael Technical Editor Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research August 2011


[1] J. E. Hirsch, An index to quantify an individual's scientific research output, PNAS, vol. 102, no. 46, pp. 16569– 16572, 2005.


Citation: Narciso Cerpa Torres and Katina Michael, 2011, "After Five Years", Journal of Theoretical and Applied Electronic Commerce Research, Vol. 6, No. 2,, ISSN 0718–1876 Electronic Version, AUGUST 2011 / I-IV, © 2011 Universidad de Talca - Chile.