Uberveillance and the Social Implications of Microchip Implants: Preface

Uberveillance and the Social Implications of Microchip Implants: Emerging Technologies

In addition to common forms of spatial units such as satellite imagery and street views, emerging automatic identification technologies are exploring the use of microchip implants in order to further track an individual’s personal data, identity, location, and condition in real time.

Uberveillance and the Social Implications of Microchip Implants: Emerging Technologies presents case studies, literature reviews, ethnographies, and frameworks supporting the emerging technologies of RFID implants while also highlighting the current and predicted social implications of human-centric technologies. This book is essential for professionals and researchers engaged in the development of these technologies as well as providing insight and support to the inquiries with embedded micro technologies.


Katina Michael, University of Wollongong, Australia

M.G. Michael, University of Wollongong, Australia


Uberveillance can be defined as an omnipresent electronic surveillance facilitated by technology that makes it possible to embed surveillance devices into the human body. These embedded technologies can take the form of traditional pacemakers, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag and transponder implants, smart swallowable pills, nanotechnology patches, multi-electrode array brain implants, and even smart dust to mention but a few form factors. To an extent, head-up displays like electronic contact lenses that interface with the inner body (i.e. the eye which sits within a socket) can also be said to be embedded and contributing to the uberveillance trajectory, despite their default categorisation as body wearables.

Uberveillance has to do with the fundamental who (ID), where (location), and when (time) questions in an attempt to derive why (motivation), what (result), and even how (method/plan/thought). Uberveillance can be a predictive mechanism for a person’s expected behaviour, traits, likes, or dislikes based on historical fact; or it can be about real-time measurement and observation; or it can be something in between. The inherent problem with uberveillance is that facts do not always add up to truth, and predictions or interpretations based on uberveillance are not always correct, even if there is direct visual evidence available (Shih, 2013). Uberveillance is more than closed circuit television feeds, or cross-agency databases linked to national identity cards, or biometrics and ePassports used for international travel. Uberveillance is the sum total of all these types of surveillance and the deliberate integration of an individual’s personal data for the continuous tracking and monitoring of identity, location, condition, and point of view in real-time (Michael & Michael, 2010b).

In its ultimate form, uberveillance has to do with more than automatic identification and location-based technologies that we carry with us. It has to do with under-the-skin technology that is embedded in the body, such as microchip implants. Think of it as Big Brother on the inside looking out. It is like a black box embedded in the body which records and gathers evidence, and in this instance, transmitting specific measures wirelessly back to base. This implant is virtually meaningless without the hybrid network architecture that supports its functionality: making the person a walking online node. We are referring here, to the lowest common denominator, the smallest unit of tracking – presently a tiny chip inside the body of a human being. But it should be stated that electronic tattoos and nano-patches that are worn on the body can also certainly be considered mechanisms for data collection in the future. Whether wearable or bearable, it is the intent and objective which remains important, the notion of “people as sensors.” The gradual emergence of the so-called human cloud, that cloud computing platform which allows for the Internetworking of human “points of view” using wearable recording technology (Nolan, 2013), will also be a major factor in the proactive profiling of individuals (Michael & Michael, 2011).


This present volume will aim to equip the general public with much needed educational information about the technological trajectory of RFID implants through exclusive primary interviews, case studies, literature reviews, ethnographies, surveys and frameworks supporting emerging technologies. It was in 1997 that bioartist Eduardo Kac (Figure 1) implanted his leg in a live performance titled Time Capsule(http://www.ekac.org/timec.html) in Brazil (Michael & Michael, 2009). The following year in an unrelated experiment, Kevin Warwick injected an implant into his left arm (Warwick, 2002; K. Michael, 2003). By 2004, the Verichip Corporation had their VeriChip product approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (Michael, Michael & Ip 2008). And since that point, there has been a great deal of misinformation and confusion surrounding the microchip implant, but also a lot of build-up on the part of the proponents of implantables.

Figure 1. 

Eduardo Kac implanting himself in his left leg with an RFID chip using an animal injector kit on 11 November 1997. Courtesy Eduardo Kac. More at http://www.ekac.org/figs.html.

Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) is not an inherently secure device, in fact it can be argued that it is just the opposite (Reynolds, 2004). So why someone would wish to implant something beneath the skin for non-medical reasons is quite surprising, despite the touted advantages. One of the biggest issues, not commonly discussed in public forums, has to be the increasing numbers of people who are suffering from paranoid or delusional thoughts with respect to enforced implantation or implantation through stealth. We have already encountered significant problems in the health domain- where for example, a clinical psychologist can no longer readily discount completely the claims of patients who identify with having been implanted or tracked and monitored using inconspicuous forms of ID. This will be especially true in the era of the almost “invisible scale to the naked eye” smart dust which has yet to fully arrive. Civil libertarians, religious advocates, and so-named conspiracy theorists will not be the only exclusive groups to discuss the real potential of microchipping people, and for this reason, the discussion will move into the public policy forum, all inclusive of stakeholders in the value chain.

Significantly, this book will also provide researchers and professionals who are engaged in the development or implementation of emerging services with awareness of the social implications of human-centric technologies. These implications cannot be ignored by operational stakeholders, such as engineers and the scientific elite, if we hope to enact long-term beneficial change with new technologies that will have a positive impact on humanity. We cannot possess the attitude that says- let us see how far we can go with technology and we will worry about the repercussions later: to do so would be narrow-sighted and to ignore the importance of socio-technical sustainability. Ethics are apparently irrelevant to the engineer who is innovating in a market-driven and research funded environment. For sure there are some notable exceptions where a middle of the way approach is pursued, notably in the medical and educational contexts. Engineering ethics, of course exist, unfortunately often denigrated and misinterpreted as discourses on “goodness” or appeals to the categorical imperative. Nevertheless industry as a whole has a social responsibility to consumers at large, to ensure that it has considered what the misuse of its innovations might mean in varied settings and scenarios, to ensure that there are limited, if any, health effects from the adoption of particular technologies, and that adverse event reports are maintained by a centralised administrative office with recognised oversight (e.g. an independent ombudsman).

Equally, government agencies must respond with adequate legislative and regulatory controls to ensure that there are consequences for the misuse of new technologies. It is not enough for example, for a company like Google to come out and openly “bar” applications for its Glass product, such as biometric recognition and pornography, especially when they are very aware that these are two application areas for which their device will be exploited. Google is trying to maintain its brand by stating clearly that it is not affiliated with negative uses of its product, knowing too well that their proclamation is quite meaningless, and by no means legally binding. And this remains one of the great quandaries, that few would deny that Google’s search rank and page algorithms have meant we have also been beneficiaries of some extraordinary inventiveness.

According to a survey by CAST, one in five persons, have reported that they want to see a Google Glass ban (Nolan, 2013). Therefore, the marketing and design approach nowadays, which is broadly evident across the universal corporate spectrum, seems to be:

We will develop products and make money from them, no matter how detrimental they may be to society. We will push the legislative/regulatory envelope as much as we can, until someone says: Stop. You’ve gone too far! The best we can do as a developer is place a warning on the packaging, just like on cigarette notices, and if people choose to do the wrong thing our liability as a company is removed completely because we have provided the prior warning and only see beneficial uses. If our product is used for bad then that is not our problem, the criminal justice system can deal with that occurrence, and if non-users of our technology are entangled in a given controversy, then our best advice to people is to realign the asymmetry by adopting our product.


This edited volume came together over a three year period. We formed our editorial board and sent out the call for book chapters soon after the IEEE conference we hosted at the University of Wollongong, the International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS) on 7-10 June 2010, sponsored by IEEE’s Society on the Social Implications of Technology (SSIT) (http://iibsor.uow.edu.au/conferences/ISTAS/home/index.html). The symposium was dedicated to emerging technologies and there were a great many papers presented from a wide range of views on the debate over the microchipping of people. It was such a highlight to see this sober conversation happening between experts coming at the debate from different perspectives, different cultural contexts, and different lifeworlds. A great deal of the spirit from that conversation has taken root in this book. The audio-visual proceedings aired on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s much respected 7.30 Report and received wide coverage in major media outlets. The significance is not in the press coverage but in the fact that the topic is now relevant to the everyday person. Citizens will need to make a personal decision- do I receive an implant or not? Do I carry an identifier on the surface of my skin or not? Do I succumb to 24x7 monitoring by being fully “connected” to the grid or not?

Individuals who were present at ISTAS10 and were also key contributors to this volume include keynote speakers Professor Rafael Capurro, Professor Roger Clarke, Professor Kevin Warwick, Dr Katherine Albrecht, Dr Mark Gasson, Mr Amal Graafstra, and attendees Professor Marcus Wigan, Associate Professor Darren Palmer, Dr Ian Warren, Dr Mark Burdon, and Mr William A. Herbert. Each of these presenters have been instrumental voices in the discussion on Embedded Surveillance Devices (ESDs) in living things (animals and humans), and tracking and monitoring technologies. They have dedicated a portion of their professional life to investigating the possibilities and the effects of a world filled with microchips, beyond those in desktop computers and high-tech gadgetry. They have also been able to connect the practice of an Internet of Things (IoT) from not only machine-to-machine but nested forms of machine-to-people-to-machine interactions and considered the implications. When one is surrounded by such passionate voices, it is difficult not to be inspired onward to such an extensive work.

A further backdrop to the book is the annual workshops we began in 2006 on the Social Implications of National Security which have had ongoing sponsorship by the Australian Research Council’s Research Network for a Secure Australia (RNSA). Following ISTAS10, we held a workshop on the “Social Implications of Location-Based Services” at the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus and were fortunate to have Professor Rafael Capurro, Professor Andrew Goldsmith, Professor Peter Eklund, and Associate Professor Ulrike Gretzel present their work (http://iibsor.uow.edu.au/conferences/ISTAS/workshops/index.html). Worthy of note is the workshop proceedings which are available online have been recognised as major milestones for the Research Network in official government documentation. For example, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) among other high profile agencies in Australia and abroad have requested copies of the works for their libraries.

In 2012, the topic of our annual RNSA workshop was “Sousveillance and the Social Implications of Point of View Technologies in Law Enforcement” held at the University of Sydney (http://works.bepress.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/kmichael/249/). Professor Kevin Haggerty keynoted that event, speaking on a theme titled “Monitoring within and beyond the Police Organisation” and also later graciously contributed the foreword to this book, as well as presenting on biomimetics at the University of Wollongong. The workshop again acted to bring exceptional voices together to discuss audio-visual body-worn recording technologies including, Professor Roger Clarke, Professor David Lyon, Associate Professor Nick O’Brien, Associate Professor Darren Palmer, Dr Saskia Hufnagel, Dr Jann Karp, Mr Richard Kay, Mr Mark Lyell, and Mr Alexander Hayes.

In 2013, the theme of the National Security workshop was “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - Pros and Cons in Policing, Security & Everyday Life” held at Ryerson University in Canada. This workshop had presentations from Professor Andrew Clement, Associate Professor Avner Levin, Mr Ian Hannah, and Mr Matthew Schroyer. It was the first time that the workshop was held outside Australian borders in eight years. While drones are not greatly discussed in this volume, they demonstrate one of the scenario views of the fulfilment of uberveillance. Case in point, the drone killing machine signifies the importance of a remote controlled macro-to-micro view. At first, something needs to be able to scan the skies to look down on the ground, and then when the target has been identified and tracked it can be extinguished with ease. One need only look at the Israel Defence Force’s pinpoint strike on Ahmed Jabari, the head of the Hamas Military Wing, to note the intrinsic link between the macro and micro levels of details (K. Michael, 2012). How much “easier” could this kind of strike have been if the GPS chipset in the mobile phone carried by an individual communicated with a chip implant embedded in the body? RFID can be a tracking mechanism, despite the claims of some researchers that it has only a 10cm proximity. That may well be the case for your typical wall-mounted reader, but the mobile phone can act as a continuous reader if in range, as can a set of traffic lights, lampposts, or even wifi access nodes, depending on the on-board technology and the power of the reader equipment being used. A telltale example of the potential risks can be seen in the rollout of Real ID driver’s licenses in the USA, since the enactment of the REAL ID Act of 2005.

In 2013, it was also special to meet some of our book contributors for the first time at ISTAS13, held at the University of Toronto on the theme of “Wearable Computers and Augmediated Reality in Everyday Life,” among them Professor Steve Mann, Associate Professor Christine Perakslis, and Dr Ellen McGee. As so often happens when a thematic interest area brings people together from multiple disciplines, an organic group of interdisciplinary voices has begun to form at www.technologyandsociety.org. The holistic nature of this group is especially stimulating in sharing its diverse perspectives. Building upon these initial conversations and ensuring they continue as the social shaping of technology occurs in the real world is paramount.

As we brought together this edited volume, we struck a very fruitful collaboration with Reader, Dr Jeremy Pitt of Imperial College London, contributing a large chapter in his disturbingly wonderful edited volume entitled This Pervasive Day: The Potential and Perils of Pervasive Computing (2012). Jeremy’s book is a considered forecast of the social impact of new technologies inspired by Ira Levin’s This Perfect Day(1970). Worthy of particular note is our participation in the session entitled “Heaven and Hell: Visions for Pervasive Adaptation” at the European Future Technologies Conference and Exhibition (Paechter, 2011). What is important to draw out from this is that pervasive computing will indeed have a divisive impact on its users: for some it will offer incredible benefits, while to others it will be debilitating in its everyday effect. We hope similarly, to have been able to remain objective in this edited volume, offering viewpoints from diverse positions on the topic of humancentric RFID. This remained one of our principal aims and fundamental goals.

Questioning technology’s trajectory, especially when technology no longer has a medical corrective or prosthetic application but one that is based on entertainment and convenience services is extremely important. What happens to us when we embed a device that we cannot remove on our own accord? Is this fundamentally different to wearing or lugging something around? Without a doubt, it is! And what of those technologies, that are presently being developed in laboratories across the world for microscopic forms of ID, and pinhole video capture? What will be the impact of these on our society with respect to covert surveillance? Indeed, the line between overt and covert surveillance is blurring- it becomes indistinguishable when we are surrounded by surveillance and are inside the thick fog itself. The other thing that becomes completely misconstrued is that there is actually logic in the equation that says that there is a trade-off between privacy and convenience. There is no trade-off. The two variables cannot be discussed on equal footing – you cannot give a little of your privacy away for convenience and hope to have it still intact thereafter. No amount of monetary or value-based recompense will correct this asymmetry. We would be hoodwinking ourselves if we were to suddenly be “bought out” by such a business model. There is no consolation for privacy loss. We cannot be made to feel better after giving away a part of ourselves. It is not like scraping one’s knee against the concrete with the expectation that the scab will heal after a few days. Privacy loss is to be perpetually bleeding, perpetually exposed.

Additionally, in the writing of this book we also managed a number of special issue journals in 2010 and 2011, all of which acted to inform the direction of the edited volume as a whole. These included special issues on “RFID – A Unique Radio Innovation for the 21st Century” in the Proceedings of the IEEE (together with Rajit Gadh, George Roussos, George Q. Huang, Shiv Prabhu, and Peter Chu); “The Social Implications of Emerging Technologies” in Case Studies in Information Technology with IGI (together with Dr Roba Abbas); “The Social and Behavioral Implications of Location-Based Services” in the Journal of Location Based Services with Routledge; and “Surveillance and Uberveillance” in IEEE Technology and Society Magazine. In 2013, Katina also guest edited a volume for IEEE Computer on “Big Data: Discovery, Productivity and Policy” with Keith W. Miller. If there are any doubts about the holistic work supporting uberveillance, we hope that these internationally recognised journals, amongst others, that have been associated with our guest editorship indicate the thoroughness and robustness of our approach, and the recognition that others have generously provided to us for the incremental work we have completed.

It should also not go without notice that since 2006 the term uberveillance has been internationally embedded into dozens of graduate and undergraduate technical and non-technical courses across the globe. From the University of New South Wales and Deakin University to the University of Salford, from the University of Malta right through to the University of Texas at El Paso and Western Illinois University- we are extremely encouraged by correspondence from academics and researchers noting the term’s insertion into outlines, chosen text book, lecture schedules, major assessable items, recommended readings, and research training. These citations have acted to inform and to interrogate the subjects that connect us. That our research conclusions resonate with you, without necessarily implying that you have always agreed with us, is indeed substantial.


Uberveillance and the Social Implications of Microchip Implants: Emerging Technologies follows on from a 2009 IGI Premier Reference source book titled Automatic Identification and Location-Based Services: from Bar Codes to Chip Implants. This volume consists of 6 sections, and 18 chapters with 7 exclusive addendum primary interviews and panels. The strength of the volume is in its 41 author contributions. Contributors have come from diverse professional and research backgrounds in the field of emerging technologies, law and social policy, including, information and communication sciences, administrative sciences and management, criminology, sociology, law and regulation, philosophy, ethics and policy, government, political science, among others. Moreover, the book will provide insights and support to every day citizens who may be questioning the trajectory of micro and miniature technologies or the potential for humans to be embedded with electro-magnetic devices. Body wearable technologies are also directly relevant, as they will act as complementary if not supplementary innovations to various forms of implants.

Section 1 is titled “The Veillances” with a specific background context of uberveillance. This section inspects the antecedents of surveillance, Roger Clarke’s dataveillance thirty years on, Steve Mann’s sousveillance, and MG Michael’s uberveillance. These three neologisms are inspected under the umbrella of the “veillances” (from the French veiller) which stems from the Latin vigilare which means to “keep watch” (Oxford Dictionary, 2012).

In 2009, Katina Michael and MG Michael presented a plenary paper titled: “Teaching Ethics in Wearable Computing: the Social Implications of the New ‘Veillance’” (K. Michael & Michael, 2009d). It was the first time that surveillance, dataveillance, sousveillance, and uberveillance were considered together at a public gathering. Certainly as a specialist term, it should be noted “veillance” was first used in an important blogpost exploring equiveillance by Ian Kerr and Steve Mann (2006): “the valences of veillance” were briefly described. In contrast to Kerr and Mann (2006), Michael and Michael (2006) were pondering on the intensification of a state of uberveillance through increasingly pervasive technologies that can provide details from the big picture view right down to the miniscule personal details.

Alexander Hayes (2010), pictorialized this representation using the triquetra, also known as the trinity knot and Celtic triangle (Figure 2), and describes its application to uberveillance in the educational context in chapter 3. Hayes uses mini cases to illustrate the importance of understanding the impact of body-worn video across sectors. He concludes by warning that commercial entities should not be engaged in “techno-evangelism” when selling to the education sector but should rather maintain the purposeful intent of the use of point of view and body worn video recorders within the specific educational context. Hayes also emphasises the urgent need for serious discussion on the socio-ethical implications of wearable computers.

Figure 2. 

Uberveillance triquetra (Hayes, 2010). See also Michael and Michael (2007).


By 2013, K. Michael had published proceedings from the International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS13) using the veillance concept as a theme (http://veillance.me), with numerous papers submitted to the conference exploring veillance perspectives (Ali & Mann, 2013; Hayes, et al., 2013; K. Michael, 2013; Minsky, et al., 2012; Paterson, 2013). Two other crucial references to veillance include “in press” papers by Michael and Michael (2013) and Michael, Michael, and Perakslis (2014). But what does veillance mean? And how is it understood in different contexts? What does it mean to be watched by a CCTV camera, to have one’s personal details deeply scrutinized; to watch another; or to watch oneself?

Dataveillance (see Interview 1.1) conceived by Roger Clarke of the Australian National University (ANU) in 1988 “is the systematic use of personal data systems in the investigation or monitoring of the actions or communications of one or more persons” (Clarke, 1988a). According to the Oxford Dictionary, dataveillance is summarized as “the practice of monitoring the online activity of a person or group” (Oxford Dictionary, 2013). It is hard to believe that this term was introduced a quarter of a century ago, in response to government agency data matching initiatives linking taxation records and social security benefits, among other commercial data mining practices. At the time it was a powerful statement in response to the Australia Card proposal in 1987 (Clarke, 1988b) which was never implemented by the Hawke Government, despite the Howard Government attempts to introduce an Access Card almost two decades later in 2005 (Australian Privacy Foundation, 2005). The same issues ensue today, only on a more momentous magnitude with far more consequences and advanced capabilities in analytics, data storage, and converging systems.

Sousveillance (see chapter 2) conceived by Steve Mann of the University of Toronto in 2002 but practiced since at least 1995 is the “recording of an activity from the perspective of a participant in the activity” (Wordnik, 2013). However, its initial introduction into the literature came in the inaugural publication of the Surveillance and Society journal in 2003 with a meaning of “inverse surveillance” as a counter to organizational surveillance (Mann, Nolan, & Wellman, 2003). Mann prefers to interpret sousveillance as under-sight which maintains integrity, contra to surveillance as over-sight which equates to hypocrisy (Mann, 2004).

Whereas dataveillance is the systematic use of personal data systems in the monitoring of people, sousveillance is the inverse of monitoring people; it is the continuous capture of personal experience. For example, dataveillance might include the linking of someone’s tax file number with their bank account details and communications data. Sousveillance on the other hand, is a voluntary act of logging what one might see around them as they move through the world. Surveillance is thus considered watching from above, whereas sousveillance is considered watching from below. In contrast, dataveillance is the monitoring of a person’s online activities, which presents the individual with numerous social dangers (Clarke, 1988a).

Uberveillance (see chapter 1) conceived by MG Michael of the University of Wollongong (UOW) in 2006, is commonly defined as: “ubiquitous or pervasive electronic surveillance that is not only ‘always on’ but ‘always with you,’ ultimately in the form of bodily invasive surveillance” (ALD, 2010). The term entered the Macquarie Dictionary of Australia officially in 2008 as “an omnipresent electronic surveillance facilitated by technology that makes it possible to embed surveillance devices in the human body” (Macquarie, 2009, p. 1094). The concern over uberveillance is directly related to the misinformationmisinterpretation, and information manipulation of citizens' data. We can strive for omnipresence through real-time remote sharing and monitoring, but we will never achieve simple omniscience (Michael & Michael, 2009).

Uberveillance is a compound word, conjoining the German über meaning over or above with the French veillance. The concept is very much linked to Friedrich Nietzsche’s vision of the Übermensch, who is a man with powers beyond those of an ordinary human being, like a super-man with amplified abilities (Honderich, 1995; M. G. Michael & Michael, 2010b). Uberveillance is analogous to embedded devices that quantify the self and measure indiscriminately. For example, heart, pulse, and temperature sensor readings emanating from the body in binary bits wirelessly, or even through amplified eyes such as inserted contact lens “glass” that might provide visual display and access to the Internet or social networking applications.

Uberveillance brings together all forms of watching from above and from below, from machines that move to those that stand still, from animals and from people, acquired involuntarily or voluntarily using obtrusive or unobtrusive devices (Figure 3) (K. Michael, et al., 2010). The network infrastructure underlies the ability to collect data direct from the sensor devices worn by the individual, and big data analytics ensures an interpretation of the unique behavioral traits of the individual implying more than just predicted movement, but intent and thought (K. Michael & Miller, 2013).

Figure 3. From surveillance to uberveillance (K. Michael, et al., 2009b)

It has been said that uberveillance is that part of the veillance puzzle that brings together the surdata, and sous to an intersecting point (Stephan, et al., 2012). In uberveillance, there is the “watching” from above component (sur), there is the “collecting” of personal data and public data for mining (data), and there is the watching from below (sous) which can draw together social networks and strangers, all coming together via wearable and implantable devices on/in the human body. Uberveillance can be used for good but we contend that independent of its application for non-medical purposes, it will always have an underlying control factor of power and authority (Masters & Michael, 2005; Gagnon, et al., 2013).

Section 2 is dedicated to applications of humancentric implantables in both the medical and non-medical space. Chapter 4 is written by professor of cybernetics, Kevin Warwick at the University of Reading and his senior research fellow, Dr Mark Gasson. In 1998, Warwick was responsible for Cyborg 1.0, and later Cyborg 2.0 in 2002. In chapter 4, Warwick and Gasson describe implants, tracking and monitoring functionality, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), and magnetic implants. They are pioneers in the implantables arena but after initially investigating ID and location interactivity in a closed campus environment using humancentric RFID approaches, Warwick has begun to focus his efforts on medical solutions that can aid the disabled, teaming up with Professor Tipu Aziz, a neurosurgeon from the University of Oxford. He has also explored person-to-person interfaces using the implantable devices for bi-directional functionality.

Following on from the Warwick and Gasson chapter are two interviews and a modified presentation transcript demonstrating three different kinds of RFID implant applications. Interview 4.1 is with Mr Serafin Vilaplana the former IT Manager at the Baja Beach Club who implemented the RFID implants for club patronage in Barcelona, Spain. The RFID implants were used to attract VIP patrons, perform basic access control, and be used for electronic payments. Katina Michael had the opportunity to interview Serafin after being invited to attend a Women’s in Engineering (WIE) Conference in Spain in mid-2009 organised by the Georgia Institute of Technology. It was on this connected journey that Katina Michael also met with Mark Gasson during a one day conference at the London School of Economics for the very first time, and they discussed a variety of incremental innovations in RFID.

In late May 2009, Mr Gary Retherford, a Six Sigma black belt specialising in Security, contacted Katina to be formally interviewed after coming across the Michaels’ work on the Internet. Retherford was responsible for instituting the Citywatcher.com employee access control program using the VeriChip implantable device in 2006. Interview 4.2 presents a candid discussion between Retherford and K. Michael on the risk versus reward debate with respect to RFID implantables. While Retherford can see the potential for ID tokens being embedded in the body, Michael raises some very important matters with respect to security questions inherent in RFID. Plainly, Michael argues that if we invite technology into the body, then we are inviting a whole host of computer “connectedness” issues (e.g. viruses, denial-of-service-attacks, server outages, susceptibility to hacking) into the human body as well. Retherford believes that these are matters that can be overcome with the right technology, and predicts a time that RFID implant maintenance may well be as straightforward as visiting a Local Service Provider (LSP).

Presentation 4.3 was delivered at IEEE ISTAS10 by Mr Amal Graafstra and can be found on the Internet here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kraWt1adY3k. This chapter presents the Do-It-Yourselfer perspective, as opposed to getting an implant that someone else uses in their operations or commercial applications. Quite possibly, the DIY culture may have an even greater influence on the diffusion of RFID implantables than even the commercial arena. DIYers are usually circumspect of commercial RFID implant offerings which they cannot customise, or for which they need an implant injected into a pre-defined bodily space which they cannot physically control. Graafstra’s published interview in 2009, as well as his full-length paper on the RFID subculture with K. Michael and M.G. Michael (2010), still stand as the most informative dialogue on the motivations of DIYers. Recently, in 2012, Graafstra began his own company DangerousThings.com touting the benefits of RFID implantables within the DIY/hacking community. Notably, a footer disclaimer statement reads: “Certain things sold at the Dangerous Things Web shop are dangerous. You are purchasing, receiving, and using the items you acquired here at your own peril. You're a big boy/girl now, you can make your own decisions about how you want to use the items you purchase. If this makes you uncomfortable, or you are unable to take personal responsibility for your actions, don't order!”

Chapter 5 closes section 2, and is written by Maria Burke and Chris Speed on applications of technology with an emphasis on memory, knowledge browsing, knowledge recovery, and knowledge sharing. This chapter reports on outcomes from research in the Tales of Things Electronic Memory (TOTeM) large grant in the United Kingdom. Burke and Speed take a fresh perspective of how technology is influencing societal and organisational change by focusing on Knowledge Management (KM). While the chapter does not explicitly address RFID, it rather explores technologies already widely diffused under the broad category of tagging systems, such as quick response codes, essentially 2D barcodes. The authors also do not fail to acknowledge that tagging systems rely on underlying infrastructure, such as wireless networks and the Internet more broadly through devices we carry such as smartphones. In the context of this book, one might also look at this chapter with a view of how memory aids might be used to support an ageing population, or those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease for example.

Section 3 is about the adoption of RFID tags and transponders by various demographics. Christine Perakslis examines the willingness to adopt RFID implants in chapter 6. She looks specifically at how personality factors play a role in the acceptance of uberveillance. She reports on a preliminary study, as well as comparing outcomes from two separate studies in 2005 and 2010. In her important findings, she discusses RFID implants as lifesaving devices, their use for trackability in case of an emergency, their potential to increase safety and security, and to speed up airport checkpoints. Yet the purpose of the Perakslis study is not to identify implantable applications as such but to investigate differences between and among personality dimensions and levels of willingness toward implanting an RFID chip in the human body. Specifically, Perakslis examines the levels of willingness toward the uberveillance trajectory using the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

Interview 6.1 Katina Michael converses with a 16-year-old male from Campbelltown, NSW, about tattoos, implants, and amplification. The interview is telling with respect to the prevalence of the “coolness” factor and group dynamics in youth. Though tattoos have traditionally been used to identify with an affinity group, we learn that implants would only resonate with youth if they were functional in an advanced manner, beyond just for identification purposes. This interview demonstrates the intrinsic connection between technology and the youth sub-culture which will more than likely be among the early adopters of implantable devices, yet at the same time remain highly susceptible to peer group pressure and brand driven advertising.

In chapter 7, Randy Basham considers the potential for RFID chip technology use in the elderly for surveillance purposes. The chapter not only focuses on adoption of technology but emphasises the value conflicts that RFID poses to the elderly demographic. Among these conflicts are resistance to change, technophobia, matters of informed consent, the risk of physical harm, Western religious opposition, concerns over privacy and GPS tracking, and transhumanism. Basham who sits on the Human Services Information Technology Applications (HUSITA) board of directors provides major insights to resistance to change with respect to humancentric RFID. It is valuable to read Basham’s article alongside the earlier interview transcript of Gary Retherford, to consider how new technologies like RFID implantables may be diffused widely into society. Minors and the elderly are particularly dependent demographics in this space and require special attention. It is pertinent to note, that the protests by CASPIAN led by Katherine Albrecht in 2007 blocked the chipping of elderly patients who were suffering with Alzheimer’s Disease (Lewan, 2007; ABC, 2007). If one contemplates on the trajectory for technology crossover in the surveillance atmosphere, one might think on an implantable solution with a Unique Lifetime Identifier (ULI) which follows people from cradle-to-grave and becomes the fundamental componentry that powers human interactions.

Section 4 draws on laws, directives, regulations and standards with respect to challenges arising from the practice of uberveillance. Chapter 8 investigates how the collection of DNA profiles and samples in the United Kingdom is fast becoming uncontrolled. The National DNA Database (NDNAD) of the UK has more than 8% of the population registered with much higher proportions for minority groups, such as the Black Ethnic Minority (BEM). Author Katina Michael argues that such practices drive further adoption of what one could term, national security technologies. However, developments and innovations in this space are fraught with ethical challenges. The risks associated with familial searching as overlaid with medical research, further compounds the possibility that people may carry a microchip implant with some form of DNA identifier as linked to a Personal Health Record (PHR). This is particularly pertinent when considering the European Union (EU) decision to step up cross-border police and judicial cooperation in EU countries in criminal matters, allowing for the exchange of DNA profiles between the authorities responsible for the prevention and investigation of criminal offences (see Prüm Treaty).

Chapter 9 presents outcomes from a large Australian Research Council-funded project on the night time economy in Australia. In this chapter, ID scanners and uberveillance are considered in light of trade-offs between privacy and crime prevention. Does instituting ID scanners prevent or minimise crime in particular hot spots or do they simply cause a chilling effect and trigger the redistribution of crime to new areas. Darren Palmer and his co-authors demonstrate how ID scanners are becoming a normalized precondition of entry into one Australian nighttime economy. They demonstrate that the implications of technological determinism amongst policy makers, police and crime prevention theories need to be critically assessed and that the value of ID scanners needs to be reconsidered in context. In chapter 10, Jann Karp writes on global tracking systems in Australian interstate trucking. She investigates driver perspectives and attitudes on the modern practice of fleet management, and on the practice of tracking vehicles and what that means to truck drivers. Whereas chapter 9 investigates the impact of emerging technology on consumers, chapter 10 gives an employee perspective. While Palmer et al. question the effectiveness of ID scanners in pubs and clubs, Karp poses the challenging question- is locational surveillance of drivers in the trucking industry helpful or is it a hindrance?

Chapter 11 provides legislative developments in tracking, in relation to the “Do Not Track” initiatives written by Mark Burdon et al. The chapter focuses on online behavioral profiling, in contrast to chapter 8 that focuses on DNA profiling and sampling. US legislative developments are compared with those in the European Union, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. Burdon et al. provide an excellent analysis of the problems. Recommendations for ways forward are presented in a bid for members of our communities to be able to provide meaningful and educated consent, but also for the appropriate regulation of transborder information flows. This is a substantial piece of work, and one of the most informative chapters on Do Not Track initiatives available in the literature.

Chapter 12 by Kyle Powys Whyte and his nine co-authors from Michigan State University completes section 4 with a paper on the emerging standards in livestock industry. The chapter looks at the benefits of nanobiosensors in livestock traceability systems but does not neglect to raise the social and ethical dimensions related to standardising this industry. Whyte et al. argue that future development of nanobiosensors should include processes that engage diverse actors in ways that elicit productive dialogue on the social and ethical contexts. A number of practical recommendations are presented at the conclusion of the chapter, such as the role of “anticipatory governance” as linked to Science and Technology Studies (STS). One need only consider the findings of this priming chapter, and how these results may be applied in light of the relationship between non-humancentric RFID and humancentric RFID chipping. Indeed, the opening sentence of the chapter points to the potential: “uberveillance of humans will emerge through embedding chips within nonhumans in order to monitor humans.”

Section 5 contains the critical chapter dedicated to the health implications of microchipping living things. In chapter 13, Katherine Albrecht uncovers significant problems related to microchip-induced cancer in mice or rats (2010). A meta-data analysis of eleven clinical studies published in oncology and toxicology journals between 1996 and 2006 are examined in detail in this chapter. Albrecht goes beyond the prospective social implications of microchipping humans when she presents the physical adverse reactions to implants in animals. Albrecht concludes her chapter with solid recommendations for policy-makers, veterinarians, pet owners, and oncology researchers, among others. When the original report was first launched (http://www.antichips.com/cancer/), Todd Lewan (2007) of the Associated Press had an article published in the Washington Post titled, “Chip Implants Linked to Animal Tumors.” Albrecht is to be commended for this pioneering study, choosing to focus on health related matters which will increasingly become relevant in the adoption of invasive and pervasive technologies.

The sixth and final section addresses the emerging socio-ethical implications of RFID tags and transponders in humans. Chapter 14 addresses some of the underlying philosophical aspects of privacy within pervasive surveillance. Alan Rubel chooses to investigate the commercial arena, penal supervision, and child surveillance in this book chapter. He asks: what is the potential for privacy loss? The intriguing and difficult question that Rubel attempts to answer is whether privacy losses (and gains) are morally salient. Rubel posits that determining whether privacy loss is morally weighty, or of sufficient moral weight to give rise to a right to privacy, requires an examination of reasons why privacy might be valuable. He describes both instrumental value and intrinsic value and presents a brief discussion on surveillance and privacy value.

Panel 14.1 is a slightly modified transcription of the debate over microchipping people recorded at IEEE ISTAS10 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dI3Rps-VFdo). This distinguished panel is chaired by lawyer William Herbert. Panel members included, Rafael Capurro, who was a member of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE), and who co-authored the landmark Opinion piece published in 2005 “On the ethical aspects of ICT implants in the human body.” Capurro, who is the director for the International Center for Information Ethics, was able to provide a highly specialist ethical contribution to the panel. Mark Gasson and Amal Graafstra, both of whom are RFID implantees, introduced their respective expert testimonies. Chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation Roger Clarke and CASPIAN director Katherine Albrecht represented the privacy and civil liberties positions in the debate. The transcript demonstrates the complexity and multi-layered dimensions surrounding humancentric RFID, and the divisive nature of the issues at hand: on whether to microchip people, or not.

In chapter 15 we are introduced to the development of brain computer interfaces, brain machine interfaces and neuromotor prostheses. Here Ellen McGee examines sophisticated technologies that are used for more than just identification purposes. She writes of brain implants that are surgically implanted and affixed, as opposed to simple implantable devices that are injected in the arm with a small injector kit. These advanced technologies will allow for radical enhancement and augmentation. It is clear from McGee’s fascinating work that these kinds of leaps in human function and capability will cause major ethical, safety, and justice dilemmas. McGee clearly articulates the need for discourse and regulation in the broad field of neuroprosthetics. She especially emphasises the importance of privacy and autonomy. McGee concludes that there is an urgent need for debate on these issues, and questions whether or not it is wise to pursue such irreversible developments.

Ronnie Lipschutz and Rebecca Hester complement the work of McGee, going beyond the possibilities to making the actual assumption that the human will assimilate into the cellular society. They proclaim “We are the Borg!” And in doing so point to a future scenario where not only bodies are read, but minds as well. They describe “re(b)organization” as that new phenomenon that is occurring in our society today. Chapter 16 is strikingly challenging for this reason, and makes one speculate what or who are the driving forces behind this cyborgization process. This chapter will also prove of special interest for those who are conversant with Cartesian theory. Lipschutz and Hester conclude by outlining the very real need for a legal framework to deal with hackers who penetrate biodata systems and alter individual’s minds and bodies, or who may even kill a person by tampering with or reprogramming their medical device remotely.

Interview 16.1 directly alludes to this cellular society. Videographer Jordan Brown interviews Katina Michael on the notion of the “screen bubble.” What is the screen culture doing to us? Rather than looking up as we walk around, we divert our attention to the screen in the form of a smart phone, iPad, or even a digital wearable glass device. We look down increasingly, and not at each other. We peer into lifeless windows of data, rather than peer into one another’s eyes. What could this mean and what are some of the social implications of this altering of our natural gaze? The discussion between Brown and K. Michael is applicable to not just the implantables space, but to the wearables phenomenon as well.

The question of faith in a data driven and information-saturated society is adeptly addressed by Marcus Wigan in the Epilogue. Wigan calls for a new moral imperative. He asks the very important question in the context of “who are the vulnerable now?” What is the role of information ethics, and where should targeted efforts be made to address these overarching issues which affect all members of society- from children to the elderly, from the employed to the unemployed, from those in positions of power to the powerless. It is the emblematic conclusion to a book on uberveillance.


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