Kidnap-wary Mexicans get chipped

Shot in the arm for RFID?


Mexico's attorney general has taken the unusual step of having an "anti-kidnap" chip stuck in his arm and then making the fact public - thereby ensuring that anyone lifting señor Rafael Macedo de la Concha will be certain to remove said limb at their earliest convenience.

Mexico is suffering a kidnapping epidemic, with up to 3,000 people abducted every year. Thousands of the country's citizens recently took to the streets to demand action.

Accordingly, Concha announced that several senior members of his staff plus 160 employees at a new crime database centre have also received the chips, which allegedly "serve both as an identity device and a tracking mechanism should they be kidnapped", the Guardian reports.

Concha did, however, admit that the principal role of the system was to restrict access to the database centre in an attempt to fight widespread corruption - considered a major factor in the authorities' lack of success in tackling the kidnap problem.

One-armed bandido

Which makes sense, because there is no indication as to exactly how the chip can be "tracked", nor any evidence to suggest that it can be tracked at all. Furthermore, the widespread publicity surrounding the chips has provoked one gang - known as "el chip" - to strip its victims and aggressively demand if they are tagged. Presumably, once they have accrued enough funds from their illicit activities, el chip will buy a chip scanner and save everyone a lot of time and needless upset.

The issue of permanently tagging people remains controversial - and not just because of its questionable value, as certainly applies to the Mexican deployment. In 2002, US outfit Applied Digital Solutions' VeriChip RFID tagged one Jacobs family. As we reported at the time, Applied Digital Solutions "want people to accept it as natural on the basis that's it's entirely positive, and everybody should have it done. The security potential is substantial, and the privacy issues come clanking along behind."

They certainly do. The public's response to RFID technology has been at best lukewarm, at worst hostile. Punters don't even like RFID tags being attached to goods in shops - as the cases of Wal-Mart and German retail giant Metro prove - let alone implanted into their arms.

Even where the apparent benefits seem to justify such tagging of humans, the response to the idea is generally one of revulsion. Kevin Warwick - aka "Captain Cyborg" - felt the full force of public opprobrium when he announced his intention to chip an 11-year-old in response to the abduction and murder of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Mercifully, nothing came of Warwick's plan. In any case - and as many suggested at the time - had Wells and Chapman themselves been tagged it would have served only for an instant identification of their bodies. The same can be said of Rafael Macedo de la Concha's and his "anti-kidnap" chip. ®

Related stories

Subdermal RFID chip provokes furore
Wal-Mart attracts more RFID flak
Germans revolt against RFID
Moratorium on RFID chips urged
RFID Chips Are Here
Kev Warwick cyberkiddie no closer to activation
Kid-chipper Cap Cyborg reported to police, social services
Cap Cyborg to chip 11 year old in wake of UK child killings


Other stories you might like

  • Snowflake stock drops as some top customers cut usage
    You might say its valuation is melting away

    IPO darling Snowflake's share price took a beating in an already bearish market for tech stocks after filing weaker than expected financial guidance amid a slowdown in orders from some of its largest customers.

    For its first quarter of fiscal 2023, ended April 30, Snowflake's revenue grew 85 percent year-on-year to $422.4 million. The company made an operating loss of $188.8 million, albeit down from $205.6 million a year ago.

    Although surpassing revenue expectations, the cloud-based data warehousing business saw its valuation tumble 16 percent in extended trading on Wednesday. Its stock price dived from $133 apiece to $117 in after-hours trading, and today is cruising back at $127. That stumble arrived amid a general tech stock sell-off some observers said was overdue.

    Continue reading
  • Amazon investors nuke proposed ethics overhaul and say yes to $212m CEO pay
    Workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability and, um, wage 'fairness' all struck down in vote

    Amazon CEO Andy Jassy's first shareholder meeting was a rousing success for Amazon leadership and Jassy's bank account. But for activist investors intent on making Amazon more open and transparent, it was nothing short of a disaster.

    While actual voting results haven't been released yet, Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky told Reuters that stock owners voted down fifteen shareholder resolutions addressing topics including workplace safety, labor organizing, sustainability, and pay fairness. Amazon's board recommended voting no on all of the proposals.

    Jassy and the board scored additional victories in the form of shareholder approval for board appointments, executive compensation and a 20-for-1 stock split. Jassy's executive compensation package, which is tied to Amazon stock price and mostly delivered as stock awards over a multi-year period, was $212 million in 2021. 

    Continue reading
  • Confirmed: Broadcom, VMware agree to $61b merger
    Unless anyone out there can make a better offer. Oh, Elon?

    Broadcom has confirmed it intends to acquire VMware in a deal that looks set to be worth $61 billion, if it goes ahead: the agreement provides for a “go-shop” provision under which the virtualization giant may solicit alternative offers.

    Rumors of the proposed merger emerged earlier this week, amid much speculation, but neither of the companies was prepared to comment on the deal before today, when it was disclosed that the boards of directors of both organizations have unanimously approved the agreement.

    Michael Dell and Silver Lake investors, which own just over half of the outstanding shares in VMware between both, have apparently signed support agreements to vote in favor of the transaction, so long as the VMware board continues to recommend the proposed transaction with chip designer Broadcom.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022