Tag you're sick

Sometimes the technology just isn't up to your Orwellian fantasies

West Papua as seen from space, circa 1990It may be the most controversial application of RFID yet.

Legislators in Papua, the part of New Guinea which is part of Indonesia, want to fit all HIV patients with microchips.

John Manangsang, a supporter of the bill, says the chip would let public officials:

identify, track and punish people living with HIV/AIDS in the country's province of Papua who intentionally spread the virus with a $5,000 fine or up to six months in jail

These are not like the failed Verichips, which only carried identifiers. These would also include GPS technology.  

They sound like the RFID GPS devices demonstrated by an outfit called Applied Digital Solutions five years ago.

Unfortunately APS became part of Digital Angel, which just executed an 8-1 reverse stock split and does not make implantable GPS chips for human use.

Its main GPS market target is the military and while it's talking about bio-chips to take medical readings, these days it's only doing implants on animals.

When GPSWorld last wrote about implantable GPS devices, in 2006, they were still touting APS and dreaming of replacing the bracelets now worn by parolees and others police get the right to track.

Verichip was also testing this technology in 2007, but dropped it over power requirements.

In Mexico, a company called Xega has reportedly gotten 2,000 potential kidnap victims to pony up $4,000 up-front and $2,400 per year for implantable GPS trackers.

But it needs an external GPS tracker to be activated, and as GPSWorld writes there's also the risk of cancer.

Manangsang called all this "a simple technology" in a Jakarta Post article but it's really not.

Papua has a serious problem. Manangsang, who says he is a doctor, estimates his state's HIV infection rate at 900 per 100,000, nearly 1% of the people there and 15 times the national rate.


Sometimes the technology just isn't up to your Orwellian fantasies, doc.