Implementing 'Namebers' using microchip implants: the black box beneath the skin



Publication Details

Michael, K. & Michael, M. G. (2012). Implementing 'Namebers' using microchip implants: the black box beneath the skin. In J. Pitt (Eds.), This Pervasive Day: The Potential and Perils of Pervasive Computing (pp. 163-206). London: Imperial College Press.


The use of electronically-based physical access cards to secure premises such as government buildings and large corporate offices has been in operation since the inception of barcode and magnetic stripe cards in the 1970s. Over time, for secure access control, these first generation card technologies, based on optical character recognition (OCR) and magnetic ink character recognition (MICR), were replaced by more sophisticated technologies such as smart cards and biometrics, containing encrypted data and techniques that were more difficult to dupe or to replicate (Michael, 2003a). An employee today, wanting to gain access to their place of work, typically carries a photo identity card in addition to a contactless smart card based on radio-frequency technology, and may also use one of his/her unique physical characteristics (e.g. fingerprint, palmprint, iris or face) for verification. Generally, the more information-sensitive the public or private enterprise, the greater the security measures introduced to safeguard against fraudulent activities. Card technologies, nonetheless, which are items carried by personnel, can also be lost or stolen, and photograph identity badges can also be falsely replicated. This has led some innovators to consider the potential of radio-frequency identification (RFID) or implantable devices for employee identification, with the added possibility of using wireless networks to undertake location fixes on employees in large premises (e.g. open cut mines or manufacturing plants). Automatic identification devices have the added capability of providing access to militarised zones, based on roles and privileges as defined by administrator access control matrices.

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