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Privacy Technology

'Pacemaker'-like GPS Device for Humans 348

LunarFox writes "Applied Digital Solutions has announced successful field trials of a prototype GPS device that can be implanted into humans. The device, which is internally rechargable, can wirelessly transmit location, movements and vital signs via the Internet, storing the info in a database. It's said to be the size of a pacemaker, but they intend to miniaturize it to one-tenth that size. You may recall this company as having designed the 'Digital Angel,' and 'Verichip,' a ricegrain-sized RFID chip like injectable pet tracking ID chips. This same company apparently made several denials in 2002 that their product(s) would be anything but externally worn. (like a wristwatch) Many other related links can be found at WorldNetDaily." On one hand the potential cool uses astound me, while the possibilty of abuse frightens me. A lot.
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'Pacemaker'-like GPS Device for Humans

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  • by lovebyte ( 81275 ) <.lovebyte2000. .at.> on Friday May 16, 2003 @05:47AM (#5971049) Homepage
    1. kidnap victim
    2. operate on victim to remove tracking device
    3. ask ransom
  • by mharris007 ( 142886 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @05:48AM (#5971050) Homepage
    I'm not really into conspiracy theories, and generally not very paranoid; but this really makes you think of what "Big Brother" or anyone for that matter can do to track people.

    I wonder what all the future applications of this device will be? I wonder if in the future they will require known convicted felons to wear these? Just think about all the scary applications such devices can be put to.
    • The simplest use would be for people ordered not to go near some places (paedophiles near schools, stalkers near victims etc). In the case of the paedophiles, such orders are for life - an implant would be perfect in such a case.

      I don't have a problem with convicted criminals being implanted, and their movements tracked for a certain amount of time, it'll reduce the prison populations and, hopefully, ensure convicts don't commit more crimes because theyd be found out easier. Deterring crime is far better t
      • by mikerich ( 120257 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @06:38AM (#5971192)
        I don't have a problem with convicted criminals being implanted, and their movements tracked for a certain amount of time

        There would be major ethical problems for most surgeons. It would go against their creed to operate on a person without their consent when the operation was not needed for a medical condition.

        I think we should take some time to consider the implications of asking doctors and surgeons to perform such operations.

        Besides, the first people to receive these implants should be politicians, oh and the entire staff at Digital Angel.

        Best wishes,

        • by Anonymous Coward
          We already operate on the mentally ill without their informed consent. No-one seems too bothered about dosing schizophrenics with huge doses of drugs that might work to make their condition worse, even without their consent.
        • by mdfst13 ( 664665 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @07:43AM (#5971358)
          If you had the choice between being in jail and undergoing an operation that would let you get out, which would you choose?

          I'm not sure that they would use this with criminals anyway. It would seem more secure to me to add it externally with a lock for criminals. Internally, it seems to me that they would just get another operation and have it removed.
          • If you had the choice between being in jail and undergoing an operation that would let you get out, which would you choose?

            Perhaps in a \. first I will admit that I really don't know.

            There are so many implications raised by the introduction of this sort of pervasive technology. I can easily see any use by governments as a slippery slope. We have overcrowded prisons so implant people with trackers (after all its only a small step from current tags), convicted of shop-lifting? have a tag put in your bod

          • I concur... not just removed, but possibly also used as an alibi.

            1. have tracking device removed
            2. leave at home
            3. commit crime
            4. have tracking device re-installed
            5. use records indicating you were at home during the crime as defense

            For every system someone will be there looking to make money from beating it.

            Also, what's to prevent people from disabling the device? Could it be made resistant to ultrasonic, microwave, close-range EMP, precise laser, or other creative attacks?

            THX-1138 has disappeared.

          • You're thinking of the hard way.

            If they implanted it, one of the conditions would be that you check in, where they could verify that it was still implanted, using one mechanism or other.

            If you remove it, you either have to run or show up and fail the GPS placement test. So you're caught, with some lead time. So we can't do that.

            If you shield it all the time, they are going to throw you back in the clink. So you're caught, maybe with lots of lead time.

            If you shield intermittently, they are going to se
      • by dazed-n-confused ( 140724 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @08:59AM (#5971682)
        I don't have a problem with convicted criminals being implanted, and their movements tracked for a certain amount of time, it'll reduce the prison populations and, hopefully, ensure convicts don't commit more crimes because theyd be found out easier.
        Then you might enjoy this breaking news [] from the BBC:

        Tagged youth jailed for killing

        A teenager has been given three years detention for killing his girlfriend, a crime he committed while wearing an electronic tag.

        The case is bound to renew debate into the effectiveness of tagging.

        The youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was 16 at the time of the crime.


        He had denied murdering the 19-year-old woman, who also cannot be named, but was convicted of her manslaughter.

        She was found shot in the chest in a block of flats on the Stockwell Gardens estate in south London in September last year.

        The youth was under supervision in the community on an electronic tag when he shot her dead.

        The judge called it a "tragic accident".
        Your comments?

    • by Grab ( 126025 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @08:55AM (#5971660) Homepage
      Don't be fooled by the "Big Brother" rubbish.

      The main application, as ever, is military. If the Army can pin-point each of their soldiers and determine easily whether they're alive, dead or injured, they'll be *very* happy. Triage becomes much easier if you know the guy is alive before you go over to him, and if you're wounded then your guys can check that you're still alive before they come to get you under fire.

      Tracking convicted felons sounds a perfect use as well, though. Anyone who thinks this is invasion of privacy, think again - a convicted felon has NO right of privacy, bcos you need to be sure they won't reoffend during their parole period. As a convicted felon, you have a choice - either stay in your cell with Bubba, or get out into the real world but have restrictions on where you can go, what you can do, and and at what time. Take your pick. Personally I reckon anyone allowed out of prison early with a curfew imposed has got pretty damn lucky, compared to the alternative. Of course there is also the point that after the parole period, you'll need to be sure the device is turned off - leaving it on forever *would* be invasion of privacy, unless your crime is such (eg. child molesting) that you are banned for life from entering certain areas such as school zones.

      • That's all great and it is one of the first things I thought of (after Big Brother). I am in the military and I tell you what, I would flatout refuse to allow anything like this to be implanted/injected into me regardless of its military utility.

        I could perhaps accept a small, sub-q insert that is easily placed and, more importantly, easily removed immediately after I leave a combat/war arena but that is the absolute kicker. It can go in when going to a combat theater but it must, absolutely MUST come o

  • by Anonymous Coward
    we're actually building a location based game you can play through a regular web browser right now, so i guess this tech will give us a bunch of NPCs?

    - that guy

    p.s.: first?
  • by marcushnk ( 90744 ) <senectus AT gmail DOT com> on Friday May 16, 2003 @05:50AM (#5971059) Journal
    So where do I get my "career chip"?? :-P
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2003 @05:51AM (#5971061)
    Interesting how this is posted hours after How to Fake a Hard Day at the Office [/.] []. Just when we thought we had outsmarted them...
  • Extension (Score:5, Funny)

    by cwernli ( 18353 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @05:52AM (#5971066) Homepage
    I'll take it, but only with an extension module: I want to run my own webserver inside myself. Must be a chilling experience to personally get DoSed.
  • by override11 ( 516715 ) <> on Friday May 16, 2003 @05:53AM (#5971069) Homepage
    All those folk with a cell phone?? You allready have one of these, no need to fret. Just have 3 base stations sent pings to your phone, triangulate position, and big brother will be there shortly. Oh, your phone is not turned on? Sok, no need for it to be on. This type of device continues to become more popular, and the amount of power that goes into the hands of people who control this is amazing. Just because its in the terms of service that they will not release this information, how much would it take for someone who REALLY wanted to find you to go see a low level tech @ the cell phone place, pay a bit of $$, and whamo get your exact position and heading. The age of privacy has been over for a long time, people are just waking up too it.
    • You can read about the FCC regulations regarding that here: Enhanced 911 []

      Cell phone carriers need to be able to pinpoint the location of a call immediately by December 31, 2005.
    • by zonix ( 592337 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @06:17AM (#5971143) Homepage Journal
      Just have 3 base stations sent pings to your phone, triangulate position, and big brother will be there shortly.

      This approach is actually being used by some telephone companies here in Denmark. They can track you, and when you're at home they'll give you a low minute rate.

    • by master_p ( 608214 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @07:57AM (#5971391)
      But I can rid of my cell phone anytime I want. I can smash it, burn it, sell it, hack it... I can't do much with an implant though, unless I go for a surgery: which means hospitalization, expenses, and most importanly, other people knowing what I do.

      I can also get rid of my credit card. I can always phone using public phones, If I am paranoid enough.

      So, the age of privacy isn't really over unless we are forced to have these chip implants. Otherwise, even if the phone/cable/car company has some of my data, that does not mean that they know my every move.
    • First of all, triangulation is a hell of a lot more difficult than you think...hence the reason for the FCC mandate that GPS be implemented in all phones. Consider how your favorite radio station gets stronger at some points than others...and then consider the higher frequency that cell phones operate on. At best, you can guess where the phone may be by looking at the signal strengths from various towers, but that's not something that some cube monkey can just feel like pulling up in a would

    • For people with phones that don't have GPS, maybe this triangulation of cell ids can be done on the phone as a "poor man's GPS". I know most phone OSs, like Symbian, have some API to get the id of the current (ie strongest) cell, but I wonder if there is a way to get a list of ids for cells whose signal strength is weaker but still "within reach". Then you could triangulate those cell locations.

  • What happens? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @05:55AM (#5971075) Journal
    when the US may reduce non-military GPS accuracy? 24 7&mode=nested&tid=126&tid=103

    The potential for abuse is more terrifying, really.
    • Re:What happens? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pxtl ( 151020 )
      Actually, what is normal GPS accuracy? The combination of this technology with the US space-based missile-defense shield is more scary.

      Think of this combination - known GPS signal + hyper-accurate orbital-based laser system. Anyone who has a device like this implanted could be popped the moment they stepped outside, any time anyone cared to do so.

      I could see the US government implanting these in known criminals and dissidents. Perhaps as a condition of parole.
  • by wwest4 ( 183559 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @05:58AM (#5971085)
    ...and advocate laws (or enforcement of existing laws) that prohibit violations of privacy. then you could take advantage of the benefits at your risk and discretion e.g. like a cell phone... you can turn it off or drive out of range if you don't want to be reached.

    Captain Picard: Computer, where is Commander Data?
    Computer: Lieutenant Commander Data is no longer aboard the Enterprise.

  • I can't wait for a Blog featuring a 'ViewWhereIam feature'(tm).
  • by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @06:01AM (#5971091) Journal
    We were frantically patching our beloved systems for Y2K compatibility crap, faithfully taking backups and all - the most frequently asked qn. was:
    Will this work on Jan 1st 2000?

    After a while, things got so paranoid, and my boss wondered innocently:
    Are you sure we'll be alive on Jan 1st? Our hearts and brains are Y2K OK?

    Made us all laugh then.. but if these GPS pacemakers were around, we wouldn't have been laughing surely.
  • by gusnz ( 455113 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @06:02AM (#5971094) Homepage the company sees this in terms of immediate practical applications.

    I could understand if this was one of those long-sighted DARPA projects that hails from an unlimited budget and a mandate to invent, but a company like this has shareholders to whom they must justify their actions. So what's the immediate market for this device? Even with the "War On Terrah" progressing at a rapid pace, I can't see implanted GPS's being compulsory anytime soon.

    So who's got ideas for the potential use/market for these devices? Paranoid parents wanting to know their children's location at all times? A replacement for medic-alert type bracelets or similar? I somehow can't see this returning on its initial investment in terms of sales, given the risks associated with anaesthetics/implantation in non-subcutaneous tissues weighed against such a trivial funcionality gain.
    • Wildlife? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ianscot ( 591483 )
      Field researchers have tons of tracking applications, and they're always using transmitters in awkward collars and so on. Not having the thing on the surface where it can get bashed around by the hard lives animals lead (and interfere with their range of motion and so on) might be an advantage?

    • Paranoid parents wanting to know their children's location at all times?

      I hope not.

      Of all the possible blunders of parenting that exist, I think that parents, training their children to expect omniscient monitoring, zero privacy, heavy interrogation, and heavy discipline as a substitute for earlier, time-consuming, caring, training to be a responsible person, is one of the scariest ways to construct a future society.

      It's the kind of society that I don't want to live in.

      • The skills you listed were appropriate for a different time. Times change. Adapt and overcome.

        > Of all the possible blunders of parenting that exist, I think that parents, training their children to expect omniscient monitoring, zero privacy, heavy interrogation, and heavy discipline

        ...are teaching their offspring the core survival skills that will enable them to become productive members of their society, just as your parents taught you a different set of survival skills for your society.

        Chip '

    • There are a number of obvious abuses that can occur with such a tracking system, but there are some good uses.

      For the military: tracking down wounded soldiers to bring them back to medical facilities or locating captured/MIAs.

      For explorers or other remote personel: tracking down wounded or missing explorers (people still die in jungles, the outback, while hiking in the mountains, etc.)

      For legal defense: a lot of people are worried that the government will be able to track them; this is a good thing if y

  • Apart from the terrible Flash thingie on the frontpage, something else struck me with this website.

    Top left corner. Happy white couple. Take a look at the lower right corner.. a dog, a chinese boy and a black boy. Where I come from, likening chinese and blacks with dogs are racist.

    • by MyNameIsFred ( 543994 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @06:22AM (#5971152)
      ...Where I come from, likening chinese and blacks with dogs are racist...

      I would like a little more proof that this was intended to be racist. The obvious intent is to identify tracking children and pets as a use.

      One of the major problems I have with accusations of racism is that behavior frequently is assumed to be racist without any investigation. To illustrate, a few years ago a news program covered racial sensitivity training that a resturant chain was ungoing as part of a court settlement. Cashiers were told to always place the change in the hand of the customer, never on the counter. Because many blacks interpret putting the money on the counter as meaning "you don't want to touch them." This hit me directly, because I have a habit of putting it on the counter regardless of whether the person is white, black, or other. Mainly because I found it easier. So the question becomes how many people thought I was racist, for doing something that I do to everyone. My futher thought is, I want more proof that things are racist before believing so. Racism exists, but not every innocent act is racist.

  • After all. this is a Device for Humans right... those with a Heart, we amy add. Probably exempts members of the R*AA as well :-)
  • perfect for ex-cons and people under house arrest
    • This is exactly the sort of thing I could go along with. How about putting a tracking device on every prisoner while they are incarcerated. Should make sure that there are no more jail breaks.

      Under the age of 16(whatever the age a minor is in your country) track them for safety. Remove them after they reach a certain age.

      Convicted pedophiles/sex offenders could also be tracked so as to help police/community keep them away from children (see above paragraph). Ability to see how close to kids they get.

      I ha
      • Convicted pedophiles/sex offenders could also be tracked

        and combined with an electronic zapper fitted inside their testicles so that if they get within 100 yards of a school/children's playground, they drop to their knees screaming ...
      • I cant see a day where we all have them so am not to worried about it yet.
        Contrasts with:
        Under the age of 16(whatever the age a minor is in your country) track them for safety.

        Implant them in all kids, and pretty soon you'll have a whole population who has never lived without them. "Why should I get this removed? It's done me no harm so far."

        And so it goes. One or two generations...and everyone has them, all the time.
    • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @09:02AM (#5971697)
      perfect for ex-cons

      ex-cons are exactly that. Ex. They have served their debt, and are now able to resume (more or less) regular lives.

      Why would you need to track them?
  • Mapping (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GreggyBUIUC ( 262370 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @06:08AM (#5971118)
    Of course, obvious privacy comments aside, this would be interesting in coordination with this old slashdot article [] which called for real time map generation by having volunteers wear GPS devices. A system like this would be allow planners to construct reliable road and interstate systems based on actual volume of traffic instead of estimates.
  • ...until they start injecting this into people to "reduce terrorism". </sarcasm>
  • finding where grandma wandered off to!
  • ..who misread the topic as 'Peacemaker'-like GPS device?

    Come to think of it, a Colt-shaped GPS reciever would look impressive..
    • ..who misread the topic as 'Peacemaker'-like GPS device?

      Yeah, some people might think that, but it really seems more like something the Skarrans would use.

      Great. Now I have to line my whole suit with tinfoil, not just my hat.

    • Why does your comment give me the image of dirty harry with a GPS? :)

      "Frankly in all this excitement I forgot to sync my GPS... I could be 10 meters to your right, 10 meters to your left, or right in front of you. You feeling lucky punk?"
  • by Daemonic ( 575884 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @06:20AM (#5971147)
    The induction-based power-recharging method... functions without requiring any physical connection between the power source and the implant.

    So they're not going to be implanting these while you're not looking, unless they can also talk you into recharging it yourself later.

    The overall ickiness of having something inserted, plus of course the overtones of nazi tatoos will stop this being mandatory for a very very long time.

    It's the biometric id cards/credit cards/mobile phones that'll be the really useful peasant-tracking devices. They don't need RFID implants.

    Besides - there'd only be a market in back-street surgeons/hackers to take them out again. This wouldn't be a terribly effective way of tracking criminal types (it would be fine for ordinary citizens of course, but then they're easy enough to find at the moment anyway).

  • by samdu ( 114873 ) <> on Friday May 16, 2003 @06:30AM (#5971171) Homepage
    From the site

    the Company announced that it was accelerating development of PLD in response to demand from high-risk countries and other potential customers.

    What the hell is a "high-risk" country and why would they want such device?

    • >What the hell is a "high-risk" country
      America of course! After all, if a third world two bit one camel country like Iraq is a serious threat, so is half of the rest of the world.
      And don't forget the French!
  • From the writeup:
    • [...] can wirelessly transmit location, movements and vital signs via the Internet, storing the info in a database.

    Sorry, but that sounds like one of these post-modern patent applications. "Via the internet" ... wooo-hoo!
    I hardly think anyone's building a device a tenth of the size of a pacemaker that will continuously transmit "ASL"-data (or whatever) to a satellite, or even the cell phone network. Bluetooth, WLAN, whatever, yea, but I don't expect to see anyone being tracked across the

  • Ummmm..... (Score:2, Funny)

    by thynk ( 653762 )
    The device, which is internally rechargable

    What does internal rechargable mean? You don't have to take it out to recharge it? Where do you plug in the power cord at night? ::shudder as goatse image jumpes into head::

    can wirelessly transmit location, movements and vital signs

    User number 4859932 has had 8 orgasms while sitting in front of computer. Net logs show massive pr0n downloads during same time frame.

    Could also be used to track the movements of a spouse/SO if you think something is up. "Hone
    • Re:Ummmm..... (Score:2, Informative)

      by scalis ( 594038 )
      What does internal rechargable mean? You don't have to take it out to recharge it? Where do you plug in the power cord at night? ::shudder as goatse image jumpes into head::

      I know your post was to be funny but the article says that "The induction-based power-recharging method is similar to that used to recharge implantable pacemakers. This recharging technique functions without requiring any physical connection between the power source and the implant."
      Just in case you actually DID wonder. This means
  • by MrFenty ( 579353 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @07:10AM (#5971264)
    I can see a two-tier society of the future where you have the "official" class of people who (not only being owned by MS, the government, RIAA, whoever you want to pick on this week) are willing to submit to having this sort of personal DRM so that law enforcement and other agencies know where they are; and also an underclass of people who refuse this "treatment", and as such as denied access to various funky services, perhaps only getting the most basic of social services.

    Submit to the chip, join The Club - or live on the outside. Very scary.

  • Lojack [] For Humans.
  • by dochood ( 614876 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @07:15AM (#5971281)
    It has probably been posted on Slashdot before (and been thoroughly pooh-poohed), but "Digital Angel" sounds an awful lot like the "Digital Demon" mentioned in Revelation chapter 13, the "Mark of the Beast" (666). In Rev. 13, everyone is required to get a mark before they can buy or sell.

    It seems odd that John would come up with the idea that you would have to have a mark (I'm told it means "etching, as with a needle" in the Greek, but I'm sure some Greek-speaking-geek here can probably shoot that down if it isn't correct) to buy and sell. I'm sure he was thinking of it as a tatoo that they would merely look at, before allowing you to use your cash. He probably wasn't thinking of a "cashless society", but I've often heard people talk about the benefits of a cashless society (thwart drug-dealers, kidnappers, extortion rings, etc). Supposedly, we'd all start with a "debit card" arrangement. But they could be stolen or forged. An implanted chip would be harder to fake.

    As a starting point to mandatory chipping, I've heard people suggest that you would chip criminals, aliens, and of course, "the scum of the earth".... gun owners! If you want to own a gun, you must get a tracking chip! Small price to pay for a "privilege" that the government lets you have...

    I'm not saying that D.A. would be the Mark, just that it sounds hauntingly familiar... that similar technology could be used for that purpose.

    So most readers here probably don't read or believe the Bible, but if you see it happen someday..... think about it.

  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @07:21AM (#5971299) Homepage
    I want an interface. If I get lost, I want to be able to use it. I'm not interested if Joe Schmoe can find me if I can't find myself...

    Then again, it would be a great device for tracking the elderly when they wander off in a fog. I have an ancient and venerable mother whose hippocampus and therefore her ability to process short-term memory is "flambayed".
  • homeland security (Score:5, Insightful)

    by koi88 ( 640490 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @07:23AM (#5971306)
    Frightened? Just think how effective we could fight terrorism! Every person in the US could be tracked, we could see who they meet and if they're sleeping, working maybe, in the future, what they're talking about. Of course, only criminals who have something to hide would fear this prospect.
    Yes a device like that is frightening, especially in the hand of a totalitarian regime like the United States' government.
    (Yes, mod me down... I know there are regimes where I couldn't say something like that without risking my life and I'm grateful I can still say that. But the US government do put people in jail without accusing them properly, they torture people outside the country, etc. Just say a person is a suspected terrorist and he automatically loses all human rights. I can still say I disapprove of that. But I'm afraid it's slowly becoming like the USSR in Stalin's times...)
  • To read what one author has written regarding tracking and stored data on humans, read:

    Really good trilogy so far and it raises the question whether no privacy can benefit a society.
  • by tedrlord ( 95173 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @07:50AM (#5971374)
    Cool use: Ability to keep track of your girlfriend/boyfriend/significant other.

    Frightening abuse: Your girlfriend/boyfriend/significant other keeping track of you.
  • The device, which is internally rechargable, can wirelessly transmit location, movements and vital signs via the Internet, storing the info in a database.

    I've often wondered how crewmembers on Star Trek are able to have their vital stats read aloud by the computer (see the Picard & Beverly scene in the TNG episode Remember Me [] )... Perhaps something like this would be necessary? While their communicators could relay position, I'm not so sure that they are responsible for vital stats. Any more exper

  • When it comes to the military for finding POW's and those listed as MIA.

    Ever see on your local news elderly persons who wander off and are confused due to dementia or alzheimer's? They frequently don't come back alive. Their personal rights have been signed off and a nursing home (wary of being sued when they loose one of their charges) might make it a condition upon entry.

    And of course, for every geek that wants to make him/herself into the borg. :-)

    But, for every good reason, there will be many more p
  • Go America! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paiute ( 550198 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @08:40AM (#5971578)
    The Patriot Implant by Halliburton. Only terrorists refuse them.

  • Just put one of these inside a 'vitamin' pill. Have the trackee swallow. No surgery necessary, you get to track his movements for a day or two, and all evidence is removed completely.
  • Okay, so when are those gonna include a career chip []???? That would be the perfect thing to track delivery boys [] ...
  • Very impractical.... (Score:3, Informative)

    by hughk ( 248126 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @09:46AM (#5971965) Journal
    First, GPS doesn't like shielding and wants to look upwards. Surrounding it with a salty wet sponge isn't going to help reception. GPS needs to orientate to a horizon, otherwise it won't see enough satellites.

    Something embedded transmitting vital signs and GPS will use a reasonable amount of power. Batteries can't hack it because rechargeables need replacement after one to two years. Its no problem if it is something to help you live (i.e., a pacemaker), otherwise would you really want the thing replaced so often?

    Personally, I think this is just a project to get Homeland Insecurity money and VC funding.

  • by NetDanzr ( 619387 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @09:55AM (#5972014)
    SkyBitz [], a Virginia company, has developed a similar device a few years ago. Last I've heard (late 2000), they've been in talks with the Pentagon to get this device implanted into all soldiers, for more precise command and control.
  • Big potential use (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jridley ( 9305 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @10:20AM (#5972175)
    "I've fallen and I can't get up"
    Seriously; the health monitoring industry isn't that small. What if you could implant a device in your alzheimers patient grandfather, so he couldn't forget to put it on, and you could always find him if he wandered away, and an instant 911 call went out if he started having an irregular heartbeat, crazy blood pressure, etc.

    I think this thing has some SERIOUSLY good potential uses. But as typical on slashdot, every technology is only seen in the most paranoid possible way. Hey, it's a good idea to think of how new technologies can be abused, but get real; the mere existance of this technology does not immediately create a police state in which everyone can be forced to have the chip implanted. It's society that decides whether such a thing can happen to law-abiding citizens (and yes, who is defined as "law-abiding").

    Technology is neither good nor bad, nor does it promote good or bad behavior. It may enable a behavior but it does not, on its own, immediately cause a police state or any other societal change, unless and until society is ready to change.

    Non-law-abiding citizens already have this, it's called a radio collar.
  • by Macka ( 9388 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @10:27AM (#5972232)

    In the UK, convicted pedophiles are held on a nation wide sex register for life. When ever they move town they have to register their whereabouts with the police. Despite this, many of them re-offend and the cost is sometimes a childs life and devastated family/community.

    So it strikes me that this would be a great help in the battle against habitual pedophiles. If on release from prison they were legally chipped and their location tracked 24hrs, then the incidents of death by re-offenders should drop dramatically.

    And yeah I know, its a breach of human rights, blah blah. But IMO, anyone who sexually violates a child for their own gratification forfeits their claim to the rights that the rest of us enjoy. And there are millions of parents all over the world who'd sleep better at night.


  • just a thought (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mattsucks ( 541950 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @10:53AM (#5972413) Homepage
    I just had this thought: Yes, government use of an implantable tracking device has a lot of implications for infringing on my privacy. But it also has substantial non-infringing uses.

    And then my head began to hurt. It has always fascinated me how some technologies are vilified BECAUSE of their potential for abuse, whereas others are idolized DESPITE their potential for abuse. Which is right? I don't have the answer, but I do know its fun to watch.

    And no, I'm not suggesting that Big Brother watching my every move is in any way equivalent to me downloading the latest Britney Spears via p2p. Although if I'm listening to Ms. Spears, maybe someone SHOULD keep an eye on me ...
  • by John Murdoch ( 102085 ) on Friday May 16, 2003 @05:53PM (#5976149) Homepage Journal


    We explored the issues involved with tracking humans for a client [] a couple of years ago. Bottom line: you can only track humans who a) know they are being tracked, and b) are willing to participate. The converse is true: you cannot track someone who is not willing to participate.

    The crucial point is this: it is possible to do field trials with willing subjects, to demonstrate the feasibility of receiving signals. However--it is child's play to defeat the system. And a tracking system that can be defeated is substantially worse than no system at all.

    How GPS works
    Most geeks understand the idea behind GPS, in the sense of determining position based on comparing the time signatures broadcast from multiple satellites. What many people don't realize is how low the signal strength actually is: it's actually not much stronger than background radiation. GPS works because DSPs can dig the signals out of that background radiation and get the data. Key point: Very Weak Signal.

    Result: It's easy to defeat
    Because the GPS signal is so weak, you lose GPS lock (the ability to receive signals from enough satellites) all the time. You lose it going into practically any building; you lose it in tunnels; you can frequently lose it in urban areas (like Manhattan). As a consequence, GPS chipsets simply store (and report) their last known good position. That's usually a good thing. If you're tracking a convict, it could be a very bad thing.

    A very bad thing: here's why
    A while ago we were contacted by a government official with a specific challenge: in the official's words, "In 40% of all homicides the victim has an outstanding Protection From Abuse order against her attacker." I don't know how accurate that figure is--but it's a compelling number. What the official wanted to do was put a GPS tracking device on people (99% men) with current PFA orders. Great idea! is brutally easy to defeat the GPS tracker. Just wrap the device with aluminum foil--or simply cover the GPS antenna with aluminum foil. The GPS unit will simply lose lock--and keep recording your position as the last known good (LKG) position. You can then travel across town, secure in the knowledge that the device cannot report your actual location and warn your ex-wife. And after you've successfully beaten her to death, you'll be able to present the county's own data to demonstrate that while the crime was in progress you were at home--because the GPS unit thinks you're still at the LKG point.

    Bottom line:
    Great idea. (And I'll elaborate in another message.) But not a viable idea for tracking perps.

Reactor error - core dumped!