Information technology (IT) has influenced all the fields of life. Without a doubt, it is playing a significant role in life of modern society. A large number of developments are seen every day in every area of life. This paper discusses one of latest IT advancements in the healthcare sector. This advancement emerged in the form of radio frequency identification technology. It has already been used by a large number of business organizations to manage their supply chain, operations, and logistics and many other business operations. Basically, Radio Frequency Identification Tags (RFIDs) refer to a computerized detection and identification technique that’s already being used in the healthcare sector to keep track of some of the major aspects, such as prescription drugs to pets. However, now this tiny technology is planned to be implanted in the human body for identification and tracking purposes. Additionally, these chips are to be installed under the skin cover and read with a RFID reader to detect data stored in the chips (Djeljosevic, 2013). In the past few years, the use of these chips has risen to a huge extent and up till now more than 40 billion of these tiny chips have been created (SixWise, 2013). Though, the implementation of each innovative technology brings innovative advantages and opportunities, still there are certain disadvantages associated with these innovative technologies. This paper discusses the pros and cons of implanting these tiny chips into the human body.
Figure 1: A view of mini chip, Image Source: Alam, 2012
These chips are manufactured by VeriChip that is the US Company manufacturing microchips and advocating implantation of them for medical monitoring purposes. In 2005 VeriChip pushed for US Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of microchips (ThinkingShift, 2007). Today these chips have started to be implanted in a human body. Some of the pros and cons are outlined below:
Pros and Cons of Implanting Technology
1. One of the most important advantages of implanting of these tiny chips into the human body is that these chips are similar to smart cards; however, they can be accessed and read from a distance. In this scenario, a device at the receiving end can ” communicate” to the chip distantly, even without having need of any physical connection, as well as read whatever data stored in it. Hence, it facilitates passport officials to get access to the information stored in the chip only by reaching within a few centimeters of that chip (RiseEarth, 2013).
2. This chip can be used as talking prescriptions. In this scenario, it enables people with visual disability to ” interpret” the drug’s cautions, name, and other associated information by making use of a battery-powered talking prescription reader (SixWise, 2013).
3. It can be used for automatic toll collection. In fact, it is the most widespread mode RFID chips are presently employed. In this scenario, this chip allows tolls to be deposited from a prepaid account when vehicles drive by (SixWise, 2013).
4. These chips can be used as prison tracking wristbands, which can let know if a prisoner has attempted to get rid of the band transmitting a signal to a prison computer in return (SixWise, 2013).
5. The basic purpose of this chip is to store a person’s medical history. Therefore, if a person is admitted into a hospital in a harshly serious situation or being unconscious, this chip can be helpful for the doctors to gain knowledge of the patient’s medical history. In fact, every chip has a unique number or identifier. So microchips can be utilized to get access to the patient’s medical history (Kanellos, 2004).
1. One of the biggest drawbacks of RFID chips is that there are no security restrictions for accessing information stored in the chip. For instance, this chip cannot be just read at passport control but can also be read by anyone who manages to access to it. In short, a person moving from one place to another with implanted RFID passports is disclosing his/her identity and personal information. This personal information can include the name, age, nationality, address and whatever else is stored in the chip. In this scenario, anyone with a reader can get access to that information, without the passport holder’s permission or knowledge. Hence, kidnappers, pickpockets and terrorists without any difficulty can pick and choose Americans or people of other contributing countries out of a crowd surreptitiously (RiseEarth, 2013).
2. Without a doubt, it is an obvious danger to both personal safety and privacy, and that is why it is not a good idea. Though many people believe that the chips can be identified and read by a reader only from distance of few centimeters, as a result it is free of misuse. However, it is not true. It is an admitted fact that wireless protocols have the capability to work at much longer coverage than it is defined. In fact, the experiments have shown that RFID chips can be read by the reader from a distance of more than 20 meters (RiseEarth, 2013).
3. The research has shown that these chips can cause a wide variety of troubles when a person is undergoing a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In this scenario, one of the potential dangers can be the relocation of the implanted chip, as well as in some cases an unfavorable tissue response produce by the microchip (Alam, 2012).
Conclusion and Recommendations
This paper has presented an analysis of RFID chips and the effects of their implantation in the human body. Though the basic purpose of this chip is to provide doctors with a patient’s medical history in a timely manner, there are other aspects also associated with this technology. This paper has discussed some of the pros and cons of this technology. The research has shown that the implantation process is not standardized. There is no standard organization that looks after the quality assurance aspect of this process. The government should establish laws regarding use of this technology and should ensure the proper use of patient’s information.
Alam, S. N. (2012, February 29). RFID chips in humans. Retrieved January 17, 2013, from http://www. buzzle. com/articles/rfid-chip-in-humans. html
Djeljosevic, D. (2013). The purpose of a microchip implant. Retrieved January 25, 2013, from http://www. ehow. com/about_5349108_purpose-microchip-implant. html
Kanellos, M. (2004, August 23). Idea of implanting ID tags raises Orwellian fears. Retrieved January 27, 2013, from http://news. cnet. com/human-chips-more-than-skin-deep/2009-1008_3-5318076. html
RiseEarth. (2013). FDA approves implanted RFID chip for humans. Retrieved January 26, 2013, from http://www. riseearth. com/2011/10/fda-approves-implanted-rfid-chip-for. html
SixWise. (2013). RFIDs: The pros and cons every consumer needs to know about radio frequency identification tags. Retrieved January 19, 2013, from http://www. sixwise. com/newsletters/06/04/05/rfids-the-pros-and-cons-every-consumer-needs-to-know-about-radio-frequency-identification-tags. htm
ThinkingShift. (2007, September 18). RFID: A danger to your health? Retrieved January 19, 2013, from http://thinkingshift. wordpress. com/2007/09/18/rfid-a-danger-to-health/