Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) refers to the technique of using electrostatic or electromagnetic coupling to identify and track people or items as unique objects (Foster & Jaeger, 2008). The RFID system consists of a microchip that can be implantable in objects and readers that emit radio waves to track the tags by reading their data. RFID tags store the necessary information such as the unique number or name, which ensure that the objects are distinct altogether (Nash, 2010). RFID technology has been useful in the medical field for identifying legitimate drugs, workplaces for identifying employees, transportation sector for the collection of fare, and in stores for controlling inventory. RFID can be implantable in the human body in order to track the whereabouts of people (Nash, 2010). However, it is a debatable topic whether RFID chips should be implantable in humans or not. RFID chips should not be implantable in human because of religious, medical, and ethical implications.
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Individuals from different cultural groups across the world will have different views on the implantation of RFID chips in the human body. Some religions like Christianity do not allow alteration of the body image. Both Islam and Judaism forbid tattoos, and the religious authorities may prohibit implantation of RFID chips (George, 2006). Therefore, a person may cease to be a member of a culture that is against the use of implantable RFID chips if he or she goes forward and accept the use of the microchips (Foster & Jaeger, 2008).
Research has shown that RFID chips can pose risks to the health of human beings upon implantation (Foster & Jaeger, 2008). Some of the implications include severe tissue reaction; failure of the transponder upon transplantation; possibility of electrical hazards; the inserter may fail; the implanted transponder may migrate in the body; and incompatibility of the magnetic resonance imaging. A controversy about implantation of RFID chips has arisen regarding the possibility of causing cancer (Foster & Jaeger, 2008). Literature on veterinary contains reports of cancerous cells in dogs that have microchips in the body. Similar occurrence may be common in the human society if RFID chips become implantable (Foster & Jaeger, 2008). Therefore, it has not been clear if implantable RFID chips can cause cancer in human bodies. Thorough investigation continues to take place to determine if implantation of microchips can cause cancer in human beings (Foster & Jaeger, 2008).
The technology of radio frequency identification has raised a number of privacy and security issues in the human society (Nash, 2010). Websites of activists have substantial discussion regarding possible problems due to implantable RFID chips, which range from tracking the location of people to mind control (Foster & Jaeger, 2008). In the contemporary society, the use of RFID technology is common in tracking individuals, and the gadgets are readily available in the market. Truth in advertising, coercion, and disclosure of risks are the major areas of current ethical concern regarding the implantation of RFID chips (Foster & Jaeger, 2008).
Some people, such as the patients, sexual offenders, and immigrants may accept to undergo implantation of RFID microchips due to coercion (Foster & Jaeger, 2008). Ethical principles maintain that people have rights to be aware of the possible detrimental effects of a medical intervention, including implantation of RFID chips in the body. VeriChip is the common implantable RFID chip that people use for tracking and identification purposes. Individuals are aware that the use of RFID chips has developed cancerous cells in dogs and rodents. Human beings may also experience similar negative effects from the RFID chips (Foster & Jaeger, 2008). It is apparent that the VeriChip is marketing the VeriMed RFID system for identifying patients in emergency rooms when they have serious communication problems. Therefore, the company strongly believes that implantation of RFID chips is extremely necessary in the medical field to identify sick individuals (Foster & Jaeger, 2008).
However, studies have not shown if implantation of RFID chips can lead to the success of treating patients at the emergency rooms compared to the noninvasive and simpler technology like fingerprint scanners, identification cards, and biometric identification. An assessment of the risks and benefits of the implantable RFID chips in human beings in the field of medicine for identification will help medical providers to decide whether to buy or not. The use of implantable RFID chips would not be meaningful as compared to other simpler technologies in the medical field for identification purpose (Foster & Jaeger, 2008).
Various religions such as Islam, Judaism, and Christians do not allow alterations to human bodies, which include implantation of RFID chips (George, 2006). Research has already revealed that implantation of RFID chips in dogs and rodents leads to adverse effects including tumor formation. Similar effects might also happen in human beings upon implantation of the microchips. Because of a number of concerns, it is necessary to have a discussion regarding the use of implantable RFID chips with those people who experience adverse effects (Foster & Jaeger, 2008). The involved companies and engineers should allow various stakeholders to make decisions regarding the significance of the radio frequency technology in the field of medicine (Palfrey & Gasser, 2011). Therefore, RFID chips should not be implantable in human beings until it becomes clear on its side effects. Governments must make commitments restrict the RFID technology to individuals who freely accept to have implantable RFID chips in their bodies for medical purposes. In addition, it is necessary for governments to commit themselves in shielding other people from implied or real coercion.
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