Barcodes and Microchips can be found on nearly everything these days, but could humans be next? American science fiction author Elizabeth Moon raised a few eyebrows the last week of May 2012 when she revived the debate about whether it could be beneficial to place barcodes on babies during an interview on a BBC radio program.
“I would insist on every individual having a unique ID permanently attached – a barcode if you will – an implanted chip to provide an easy, fast inexpensive way to identify individuals,” she said on a weekly show called The Forum, according to the New York Daily News.
According to Moon, aged 67, the tools that are currently used for the purpose of surveillance and identification, such as video cameras and DNA testing, are too slow and expensive.
Placing a barcode on each person at birth, in her opinion, would solve these problems. While the technology is already in place, civil liberties advocates have decried past efforts to make “barcoding” a reality, claiming that it would create an Orwellian society devoid of privacy where “Big Brother” is always watching.
“To have a record of everywhere you go and everything you do would be a frightening thing,” Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the ACLU, told the New York Daily News.
Even without the barcodes, governments have an ever-expanding array of tools at their disposal to track people. Since 2006, new U.S. passports include radio frequency identification tags (RFID) that store all the information in the passport, as well as a digital picture of the owner.
In 2002, and implantable ID chip called VeriChip was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. When scanned, the chip could pull up a 16-digit number containing information about the user. The program was scrapped in 2010 amid concerns about privacy and safety, but other companies have since come forward, offering similar products.
The biotech company MicroCHIPS has developed an implantable chip to deliver medicine to people on schedule and without injection, while the technology company BIOPTid has patented a non-invasive method of identification called the “human barcode.”
Advocates of futuristic identification methods say the barcode could help parents or caregivers keep track of children and the elderly.
“And he causes ALL, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that NO man might BUY OR SELL, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is [=] Six hundred threescore and six  (Revelation 13:16-18). Beware of taking the mark in whatever form!
Front cover of the January-February 1984 Newswatch Magazine – 28 years ago.