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Proposal for UK Prisoners to be Given RFID Implants 188

Posted by Soulskill
from the resistance-is-futile dept.
Raisey-raison writes "There is a proposal in the UK to implant "machine-readable" microchips under the skin of thousands of offenders in an effort to free up more space in British jails. The article states that uses are being considered both for home detention, as a means to enforce punishment, as well as for sex offenders after their release. Many view this as a slippery slope leading to much wider use; starting as a purely voluntary act and gradually becoming more compulsory, it would endanger human rights and privacy. There are also health questions involved, given that long-term studies have linked similar implants to cancer in lab mice and rats. Ironically, the same technology has been proposed for medical purposes as well. In the USA, some state agencies have already made decisions about this issue.
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Proposal for UK Prisoners to be Given RFID Implants

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  • Its just criminals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @09:06AM (#22024580) Homepage Journal
    Today.

    Tomorrow children. In a generation or 2, everyone will have them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by darjen (879890)

      in an effort to free up more space in British jails.

      Or they could stop throwing people in jail for victimless crimes, such as drug offenses... for which 16% of prisoners are there for.

      http://www.justice.gov.uk/docs/population-in-custody-0407.pdf [justice.gov.uk]
      • by mpe (36238)
        Or they could stop throwing people in jail for victimless crimes, such as drug offenses... for which 16% of prisoners are there for.

        Most likely drug prohibition is actually responsible for a higher proportion of prisoners. Since prohibition tends to have lots of non "victimless" crimes assocciated with it. e.g. people in the "black economy" can't use the courts so they tend to use violence to deal with "business disputes".
    • by Divebus (860563)
      Give them to criminals? Hell - if they're going to do that, make them pay for the device, installation and maintenance. However, I heartily agree that any approach like this will lead to extension into the general public and abuse of information. The Thought Police will get us all.
      • by nurb432 (527695)
        Here locally, the criminals that get those leg-beepers for home detention have to pay some sort of fee.
    • by kabocox (199019)
      Today.
      Tomorrow children. In a generation or 2, everyone will have them.


      This is one of the reasons why sex offender monitoring and limiting programs gives me the creeps. If they aren't safe enough to be released into society, leave them in jail. If they aren't a danger and have completed their sentence don't monitor them.

      It's a very short logic jump of why are we just monitoring sex offenders and not just all previous criminals? So let's do that as well.

      I think schools will want them on their students. The U
  • by Serenissima (1210562) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @09:11AM (#22024610)
    But does no one think that Prisoners might be inclined to remove their tracking chips? I'm just saying I can't imagine most of them are losing any sleep about breaking the law...
    • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @09:15AM (#22024652) Homepage
      Which is why they will implant them deep in the brain.

      Then only outlaws will wear tinfoil hats.
      • by JonathanR (852748)
        Microwave. Two minutes. Fixed.
        • by o'reor (581921)
          Microwave-boiled brains taste ugly, every brain connoisseur will tell you that. "à la coque" or deep-fried brains taste much better. This is from John Romero's "The Joy of cooking".

          That being said, I wonder what kind of effect a catscan would have on those devices.

    • by Naughty Bob (1004174) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @09:30AM (#22024740)
      The UK already employs an extensive system of electronic ankle bracelets as part of early release programs, they're radio-linked to an internet connected receiver in their houses. A small percentage of them are removed, virtually always triggering the tamper detection devices. A much bigger problem so far has been the comically inept way the schemes are run.
    • by morari (1080535)
      That's why you place exploding collars on them instead. It worked fairly well in X-Men and Running Man!
      • by LKM (227954)
        I think you could also use exploding RFID chips. I've seen that in a movie with the Highlander guy, so it must be true. Also, I think Danny the dog had a pretty cool collar thingie, too. Shiny!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I just hope it's optional.

      Prisoners should be given the option to say either, "Implant the chip under my skin", or "Shove it up your arse."

  • by Anonymous Coward
    You all would have bombed the tags with "1984" "Orwell" "PoliceState" "facism", etc. I love the double standard. Then again, I must be new here.
  • Hmm... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by usul294 (1163169) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @09:14AM (#22024644)
    How long does it take till this spreads to all criminals, then slowly spreads into the population. The privacy issues are obvious, today dogs can get chips under their skin to help if they get lost, tomorrow the government may use them to find a "person of interest". Thats not to say there are not benefits to the idea. Namely, being able to tie personal identification to the chip (no more REAL ID), and being able to tie personal bank accounts to that chip as well. That's not to say its a good idea, but there are some positive impacts if applied to the whole population.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mapkinase (958129)
      It will spread in a different way. Now we are easily tracked by our phone calls, by our credit card purchases and other digital traces. Yes we have a choice to go off the grid, but it's really inconvenient. RFID will happen the same way.

      They won't force them on us, they will just make it really inconvenient to us, pussies, to live without it.

      [/macho trip]
    • What TFA doesn't mention is that the implants ocasionally find their way into your DNA (they implant them in the gonads, to dissuade removing it) so you pass them on to your children!
    • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Sunday January 13, 2008 @02:08PM (#22027026) Homepage
      Parents are the scary ones. A lot of them seem to think chipping their kids is a good idea. I suppose it is if you treat your kids the same way you treat your pets. Prisoners until age 18.

      I think the last time anyone tried this in Western Europe was when the Nazis tattooed numbers on the hands of Jews.
      • by KillerCow (213458)

        Parents are the scary ones. A lot of them seem to think chipping their kids is a good idea. I suppose it is if you treat your kids the same way you treat your pets.


        No, the scary thing is that the parents indoctrinate their kids to accept being chipped, so by the time they are 18, there is a whole flock of new voters who will ask "What's so bad about having a tracking chip implanted? What do you have to hide?"
        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          there is a whole flock of new voters who will ask "What's so bad about having a tracking chip implanted? What do you have to hide?"


          Even worse, RFID can be read from a long way away by anyone. It's not just bent coppers you have to worry about, it's everyone.
    • by mstahl (701501)

      I think most peoples' problem with this idea is that you cannot remove or disable it. Though I don't ascribe to the rampant paranoia surrounding RFID, most of that is because (to the best of my knowledge) I can just go largely incognito by leaving my RFID chips at the house. With RFID implants, your identity is never completely private, because it can always be scanned wherever you are. It's not like you can just switch it off until you need it, unless you feel like wearing a faraday cage....

  • by Anonymous Coward
    My chums and I were discussing this very news at the pub last night. One of my friends said fiddlesticks to this, and proposed a much better idea. He said that instead of tagging these criminals with RFID implants, we ought just to force them to walk around all day with their penises hanging out. He said that way we'd all know they're criminals, and if they ever got unruly we could just throw objects at their vulnerable cocks. Trust me, a beer mug smashing against your penis spout is not a feeling one wants
  • Well ... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015)
    given that the respective governments of the United States, England, Russia, China and the other major powers would never think of using implanted RFID in a way that would negatively impact the rights and quality of life of their average citizens, I'm all for it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Loibisch (964797)
      We really need a moderation option "+1 Sarcasm" because there's no way the above comment is funny or insightful...:(
  • Mark of the beast?
    • I've been hearing about this one from my psychotic step-father for years now. He read about RFIDs on Jeff Rense.com [jeffrense.com] of all places, and how they could, for example, be placed in the back of the neck. Apparently there's something in the bible about the mark of the beast being on the back of the neck and how it will signal the end times, and he's been ranting about it ever since.

      He's also a complete idiot, as are the greater portion of Americans. (I'm American, don't start the flamewar) You're quite right
      • The" mark of the beast" thing comes from the practice of the Romans of branding their slaves with a mark or forcing them to wear bronze collars. It's essentially an allegorical warning in the bible against the subtle re-introduction of methods used to persecute Christians in the past.

        After Constantine ruled in 315 that slaves condemned to work in the mines or to fight in the arena were to be branded on the hands or legs, not on the face (Theodosian Code 9.40.2), prudent slaveowners who in the past had bran

      • by mstahl (701501)

        Super radical christians said the same thing about barcodes in the day. Now they're ubiquitous and nobody really cares.

        • by operagost (62405)
          People would care if barcodes were being tattooed on everyone. "Fortunately," we now have more robust technology to oppress the populace.
          • by mstahl (701501)

            ...in the same way people will start caring if anyone wants to implant RFID chips in everyone. All I'm saying here is that it's not like it takes 21st century technology to get the hardcore fundamentalist crowd yammering on and on about the end times.

  • California is suffering from a huge budget crunch. the Governator is talking about prisoner releases there. and with the state employees (free people. or are they?) there already under threat of implants, i'd say Ahnold will be calling Brown soon for the chip vendor information.
  • by grolaw (670747) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @09:51AM (#22024860) Journal
    Let's get real. If these RFID chip or multiple chip implantation policies become widespread so will chip mods.

    If your ID chip accesses your credit line - how long before Warren Buffett/Bill Gates' ID becomes the hot new fake ID?

    It is well known that all manufacturing processes produce a some number of defective products. How do we deal with those?

    RFID can be zapped with a static charge - anybody for Van DeGraff generators?

    Retasking, rewriting, forged, hacked and destroyed RFID is all that this policy will lead to. AND, /. readers will be in the front of THAT revolution.
    • by Cheesey (70139) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @10:17AM (#22025042)
      The solution to most of those problems is to use many RFID chips rather than a single one (these things are microscopic). You'll be identified by the cloud of chips that you carry - some may be implanted, some may be in your clothes, and others will be part of the gadgets you own. Failure of individual chips is no problem: indeed it is expected. The surveillance systems will be watching where most of your RFID chips go.

      Forgery is possible but it's non-trivial, particularly as the chips shouldn't offer any way to reprogram the UUIDs that they broadcast. You'd need a pirate RFID manufacturing plant: possible but costly. Destroying the chips is a more likely attack, but these things will be so common in the future that it will be extremely hard to go anywhere without picking a few up by accident, so you'll soon be back on the system if you do that (albeit as an anonymous person until you do something else to identify yourself, such as using a credit card).
      • by grolaw (670747) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @10:34AM (#22025166) Journal
        Every ID system has been beaten. You seem to be discussing nano-level tech (and, I'm unaware of how that size device could pick up enough RF to power their system) and not the 1-2 cm standard today. See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RFID/ [wikipedia.org]

        The market for pirated DVDs couldn't exist without the blanks. Perhaps a third or so are created in factories in China - but the rest are purchased from the usual sources and diverted to illicit copying. What's to keep chip manufacturers from supplying the black market?

        Want to consider what would happen if the chips were really tightly controlled? There would be a market for chips forcibly extracted from the original "owner."

        At root, it is a stupid idea - but my pets have them. Now, if the animal control folks would just buy the scanner we lobbied for (and, budgeted two years ago) so that a lost/runaway could be returned....

        In short, the barriers to adopting this policy are formidable and the end result is far from certain.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Cheesey (70139)
          I like to make posts such as the grandparent in the hope that someone more knowledgeable than me will tell me why I'm wrong. An RFID-based national surveillance system is clearly on the UK government "wish list", and it would be nice for everyone if it was actually impossible to build one, rather than merely expensive. I would be very pleased if physical laws prevented RFIDs being manufactured in microscopic sizes, but I suspect that this is not the case. It doesn't have to be nanoscale, it just has to be i
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by grolaw (670747)
            RFID is a "passive" responder that generates a signal when "charged" or "pumped" with enough current from an active RF field. Look at the Wikipedia link I posted and you will see that the most massive part of any RFID device is the antenna. Through that antenna induction takes place and thence the power to generate a signal. RFID are without internal power supplies and must make use of induction to function. The smaller the device the smaller the antenna. Once we reach true microwave frequencies the tr
            • It shouldn't be too hard to make a IPod sized device that could broadcast thousands/millions of fake RFID numbers if it picks up that one is being scanned nearby. Or just have it on the whole time, filling the scanners with noise. Websites could have extensive lists of other peoples RFID numbers all uploaded, thereby providing a kind of digital alibi, if you will. I'm sure that someone will make cracking type of programs, that can produce valid RFID numbers, or hack into legitamite databases that have RF
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by grolaw (670747)
                The technology exists - consider radio scanners and repeaters. Add in some memory and create an interface to your mini scanner/repeater (sounds like a job for gumstix http://gumstix.com/ [gumstix.com] ) and off you go.

                FWIW directional antennas (dish, yagi) could direct a RF signal source at distance & coupled with a rifle site it would make all of those people carrying RFID easy targets to pick out of a crowd.

                Whose idea was RDID tags in passports, anyway? The Saudi's?
      • A alternative to getting a RFID manufacturing plant is just to rig up a little transmitter to a computer.
        You'd then emulate the cloud. Pretty simple.
  • That's been already worked out for them: One on the forehead, and another on the right hand.
    • by pla (258480)
      That's been already worked out for them: One on the forehead, and another on the right hand.

      Well, the frontal sinus would make an ideal location for them... Well within the ability of modern endoscopic techniques; no visiable lump as with subcutaneous insertion; virtually no way for the animal - er, prisoner - to remove it without medical assistance; and, it lies close enough to the surface to respond to a reasonably low-powered scanner .

      Now, the wrist, on the other hand, not such a great place. The w
  • by definate (876684) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @09:58AM (#22024906)
    This makes perfect sense to me!

    After all, it's not like RFID chips could be swapped, erased, removed and as we all know, relying on technology to enforce behavior has never failed. That's why DRM is so popular and electronic passports are completely unhackable, and even if they were hackable, it's not like people get used to the new systems and forget to do the most basic of checks.

    Also, the social repercussions for putting these in inmates raises no problems, all you need to do is look at the great success the US has had with the sex offender registry in rehabilitating people.

    I can't find a single reason not to do this. Go Britain!

    WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!? It took me a whole 2 seconds to think of all of these, how has this idea made it this far?
    • sex offender registry in rehabilitating people.

      The purpose of the sex offender registry is not to rehabilitate. It is to notify the community to beware. So many sex offenders reoffended after being released, and so many parents said that they would have been more careful, had they only known that a predator was in the neighborhood. So, you get pressure on politicians, and bam, democracy in action.

      P.S. You might have more success in expressing your opinions if you didn't use so much sarcasm.

      P.P.S. Yo

  • Another reason... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Computershack (1143409) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @09:59AM (#22024914)
    Just another reason to leave this country. Once upon a time I used to be proud to be British. Nowadays if I say that, I'll be flagged up as a racist, be DNA profiled and have my life gone through with a fine tooth comb.

    This country has surveillance and tracking that's gone beyond anything the Nazi SS and the KGB could ever dreamed of having. So much for living in a free democracy.

    • Well, don't think you'd be moving to the US. Here's a map of the places you could consider. It's a shrinking selection.

      2007 International Privacy Rankings [privacyinternational.org]
    • Many of us will be very very pleased to see the back of someone with such a bizzarre and distorted view of the UK, though it's good to see you upholding Goodwins law.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Things like this don't need to be legally mandated - only socially. When it becomes the 'next big thing' and you can buy a sixpack just by waving your hand next to a reader, it'll catch on and people will voluntarily do it - after which point, in a few years, it would be as odd to be without one as it would be odd to be without a cellphone today. I'd plan on mitigating the effects of everyone having the implants as opposed to trying to stop them.
  • I think this is an example of where technology, or at least people's visions for the technology, is outpacing common sense. RFID-like tags are a great idea for identifying lost pets or livestock, but they absolutely suck as a criminal monitoring device compared to existing systems for enforcing home detention. RFID is a passive system - a tag moves by a reader, it's energized and sends its data to the reader. As I understand it, the ankle bracelets currently used are active systems - the bracelet and the mo
    • by Cheesey (70139) on Sunday January 13, 2008 @10:40AM (#22025210)
      I think all that you're missing is the scope of the plans, which are technically achievable, but are also science fiction of the David Brin variety. This is belied by the disparity between what is actually needed (a way to enforce house arrest - existing solutions are adequate) and what we are told is needed (RFID everywhere). The vision is a nationwide network combining RFID with existing surveillance technologies such as CCTV and the automatic number plate recognition system (ANPR). The problem with ANPR is that it only recognises number plates, and the problem with CCTV is that it is no good for automatically recognising anything. RFID is the answer: the tiny chips uniquely identify their carrier. So with the help of RFID you can both (1) record everything and (2) tag each recording with the people featured in it without any human intervention. A database with a record of everyone's activities is the eventual goal. Modern technology makes it possible, if unethical and expensive.
  • I for one welcome our RFID-implanting overlords!
  • Pile them all on to ships and send them to Australia!
    • Let me get this straight...
      You keep the shitty food and the shitty weather and we get the Great Barrier Reef and lobsters the size of canoes?...
      .
      .
      .
      I'm Jack the Ripper! --No, I'M Jack the Ripper! We're all Jackthefuckingripper!
      • On second thought, we're sending you all to New Jersey. Or Cleveland.

        We'll just keep those lobsters, comrade.

  • Why is there such a high prison population? Are all of these people behind bars dangerous persons who would damage society if left free? I don't think so. Perhaps only a few of them are really dangerous. Most of them would probably do no further damage if released, so I see no point in spending tax money in feeding people who would do no further damage to society. Punishment? Does anybody still believes that punishment is the right approach to crime? We should focus on changing people, not punishing t

    • For me the perfect scheme would be to attempt to change the criminal's life outlook through compulsory education. If they cannot change themselves, then they should go in exile. So, if a member of a community offends the community's customs, they will have to leave that community. This way they cannot re-offend, and nobody pays for them. We could even have internationally designated places to send criminals from every country there, and let them alone out of our societies. Of course this should be done only

      • by wikinerd (809585)
        Australia was used for penal labour. I didn't suggest to have criminals work for free. I suggested to attempt to educate them, and if they don't change, then to let them *alone* in a designated uninhabited place, completely free, but out of the community they offended.
        • Australia was used for several things, including as you mentioned, penal labor. But it was an experiment that attempted to test the thesis that removing "criminals" from society would benefit the society in any measurable fashion. It didn't and it will not. If you are at all serious about your idea, I would suggesting reading the book. It will give you an interesting historical insight on criminality, prisons, reform and punishment.

          Those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat in - Santana.

          • by wikinerd (809585)

            My idea is based on my belief that people do not belong to their societies, that people stand as free individuals. Participation in a society happens as a necessity of birth (until people grow) and as a privilege (after people become adults). So I see society as a set of individuals who have all agreed to stay in the same place and adhere to some common rules of behaviour. Now if some individual violates the social customs or laws, they should be made to attend some custom educational programmes and give

            • by CmdrGravy (645153)
              Great, so rather than bothering to deal with the criminals here in the UK we can just ship them over to the US then can we, and you'll all be fine with that. A lot of criminals are simply criminal scum and should be locked up, education is wasted on such people.
  • how long until secret service agents start putting nano RFID chips into the food or cars of political enemies and tracking their movements?
  • There is a reason that tagging devices such as ankle bracelets have anti-tamper measures. What's to stop these criminals just digging these RFIDs out, deactivating them, or otherwise messing with their proper function?
    • by fizzup (788545)
      It would not take long for word to spread that all you need to do is wear a tinfoil hat, glove, shawl, boxers, or what-have-you to defeat the RFID.
  • Given that criminal only refers to a person whose broken a *law* - We are all criminals... It's only a matter of them deciding to apply the label...
  • If everybody has RFID implants then "we" have them and "they" have them. What's the huge issue for abuse? It's not like government people will be exempt from everbody else. Also the goverment changes on a regular enough basis. Potential for abuse isn't any more huge here than anywhere else, but abuses will occur, just not of the magnitude some predict. I have fundamentalist friends who are paranoid of any potential "marks of the beast" and that's a whole other story. There are all kinds of idiots who jump t [google.com]
    • I'm certainly not a fundamentalist, probably not insane and not even particularly worried about whether or not this is used to track people.

      If I was a criminal in any country under the crown and a government agency tried to implant an RFID tag in me, I would insist that the government agency be dissolved and all the members of said agency involved in my implant be charged. Just following orders is no defence.

      As I said, I'm not fundamentalist, in fact I believe that we evolved to our form and guess what? W

      • by icepick72 (834363)
        You successfully created a divsion putting yourself as "us" and me on the "against them" side, an exact mockup of the division people like to create whether you're coming at it from a religious or pragmatic approach. Nice going. When you draw lines like that people will see them and start to abide by them. Your attitude is indicative of the problem.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          You seem to have reinforced my concern.

          I am not part of the hive. I do not always think the current fashionable thoughts. That is good, as far as I'm concerned.

          My post responded to your question, specifically, "What's the huge issue for abuse?". The huge issue for abuse is that the act of implanting an RFID tag in someone against their will is abuse. The reasons of the objector are irrelevant.

          Your original post seemed to make the assumption that there is no harm in having the tags implanted, although the

      • by CmdrGravy (645153)

        If I was a criminal in any country under the crown and a government agency tried to implant an RFID tag in me, I would insist that the government agency be dissolved and all the members of said agency involved in my implant be charged. Just following orders is no defence

        If it were ever the case that this became government policy then you could all for agencies to be dissolved all you liked but it would make no difference at all, if you fell into the category of criminals needing to be tagged you'd be tagged

  • Why not tattoo a number on every prisoners' arm?
    Oops, we had that before.
    Nevermind...

    Yeah, I hate criminals. Some should never be let out.
    But they are still humans. Not cattle.
  • So, the suggestion is that in order to defray the cost of their incarceration, criminals be forcibly involved in an experiment that is not only technical but medical in nature too. Wonder where we've heard all about that before.

    Society may have the right to take away another's freedom but it has no right to take away another's human rights or dignity (unless you support capital punishment). No doubt tagging prisoners would make the life of prison warders easier, but then so would gassing or shooting their
  • I know TFA mentions it being put under the skin, but for some reason or other, it reminds me of the scene from Total Recall when Arnold has to remove a tracking device (about the size and shape of a lime) from his nose. *shudder*
  • Why not just kill them after their prison term is over ? It's just like sadistic death by thousand cuts after they released anyway. Can't live, can't work and anyone is welcome to kick them. Are they so much more dangerous than murderers ?
  • or maybe, I only read the top 20 comments...

    you break the law, you pay the price. You loose your rights the day you pull the trigger, force the clothes off... Criminals have too many rights as it is. Now I see TV commercials for some "behind the bars" TV show with prisoners complaining "there's no privacy, people are all over, separated by race". Well if ya wanted privacy you shouldn't have done the crime.

    I'm sorry to go against the modern grain and thought process but things have gotten too soft. Prison's
  • Frak chips. What we need is Branding or company tattooing....so not only will the state save money, they'll make some money back. I can just imagine the McD's golden arches on someone's right cheek.

    Seriously, I can't help seeing all these stupid ideas as the effects of gobalization. The more we are connected and influenced by others around the world, the more a single bad idea will spread.

    On the whole the new world order isn't bad...for the majority. It just sucks not to be in power...or be powerless...cr

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