John Armitage on Tue, 3 Sep 2002 11:34:48 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Girl to get tracker implant to ease parents' fears

[Hi all, when I first read the subject line/headline, I thought this mailing
must be the work of Bruces' "futurefeedforward" list. Alas, it is from the
"presentfeedforward" or contemporary reality list to which we are all
compulsory subscribers. Bruce, watch out, the present is right behind you
... John.]
Girl to get tracker implant to ease parents' fears
Jamie Wilson
Tuesday September 3, 2002
The Guardian,7369,785073,00.html
The parents of an 11-year-old girl are to take the extraordinary step of
having her fitted with a microchip so that her movements can be traced if
she is abducted.
Danielle Duval will have the device implanted in her arm in the next few
months, the scientist assisting the plan claimed yesterday. The miniature
chip will apparently send a signal via a mobile phone network to a computer,
which will be able to pinpoint her location on an electronic map.
The parents, Wendy and Paul Duval from Reading in Berkshire, said they had
decided on the step after the abduction and murder of the schoolgirls Holly
Wells and Jessica Chapman.
"After the news of Holly and Jessica , we sat down as a family and discussed
what we could do," Mrs Duval said. "Like us, Danielle needs to feel that
she's safe at all times and could be located in a real emergency. I know
nothing is ever 100% or foolproof, but we believe the microchip will go a
long way towards protecting her."
Mrs Duval did not accept that the family were panicking or overreacting,
saying it was only sensible for a parent to use technology when it was
available. "If a car is stolen, it can be fitted with a computer to enable
it to be tracked - so why not apply the same principle to finding missing
children?" she said.
Yesterday several children's charities said they were unsure about the
A spokesman for Kidscape, the charity aimed at stopping children from being
bullied and sexually abused, said: "We do not think this is a good idea.
Children should be taught about the possible dangers, rather than having
something stuck on them that can maybe track them, and perhaps then only
when it is too late."
A spokesman for the NSPCC said: "Parents and guardians must remember child
abductions are extremely rare, and that the vast majority of abuse happens
within the home."
The designer of the chip, Kevin Warwick of the cybernetics department at
Reading University, conceded that some parents might abuse the system or
overreact if their children were late home, but maintained that tagging was
the correct course of action in the light of recent events.
He said: "The implant won't prevent abductions: nothing will.
"However, if the worst happens, parents will at least be in with a chance of
finding their children alive."
He has called for an urgent government debate on the issue, and believes
ministers should consider implants for all children.
Professor Warwick said there were a few technological problems to be ironed
out, including exactly how to recharge the chip's battery, but he expected
Danielle to be fitted with the device, under local anaesthetic by a doctor,
in the next few months. "Her parents want me to proceed as quickly as
possible, and I wouldn't waste their time if I thought it wasn't capable of
working," he said.
Among the technical questions to be addressed is whether the chip should
remain dormant in the limb until an emergency arose, or whether it should
emit a signal 24 hours a day.
"This is why we need the debate to take place," he said. "In future it may
be that only the police have the authority to allow the system to be
activated. But, as things stand, parents can have that right themselves."
Danielle, who met the professor with her parents last week, said she had no
concerns about being fitted with the chip. "I will feel so much safer
knowing that mum and dad could find me in an emergency. The professor said
the chip won't hurt, so that's OK."
Mrs Duval, 33, a school catering controller, and her husband, Paul, 34, a
driving instructor, want their other daughter, Amy, seven, to undergo the
"We'll wait until Amy's a bit older, so that she fully understands what's
happening," they said.

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: contact: