Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk

Legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus.

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Back Talk Requested: A Chip on Your Shoulder?

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | September 6, 2008

Posted by Cliff Tuttle

The following item appeared this morning in the New York Times on line:

“INTERNAL G.P.S. First, tracking devices were installed in cars so they could be found if stolen. Then, pet owners began putting chips in their dogs and cats. Now it’s human beings who are being “chipped.” An epidemic of kidnappings has led wealthy and even middle-class Mexicans to pay $4,000 to have tiny transmitters implanted that can pinpoint their location by satellite.

Chipping people has already begun in the United States, where VeriChip has inserted chips in 200 Alzheimer’s patients for a pilot program. Future Big Brother applications are not hard to imagine, like chipping prisoners, the mentally ill and teenagers who lie about where they’re really spending Friday night.”

Of course, house arrest is enforced by the wearing of bracelets that perform the same purpose. These prisoners consent voluntarily, just for the privilege of serving the period of incarceration at home. Lawyers are aware that it is possible to obtain the “voluntary” agreement of people to rather onerous contract terms when the alternative is worse. It is not hard to imagine many situations where people will agree to be chipped in exchange for something and thus, not strictly against their will. That teenager, for example, can either stay home or be chipped — his choice.

Even when voluntary, it just doesn’t seem right, does it? Should we permit people to voluntarily consent to such an invasion of their body? Who should be permitted to relinquish so much privacy? Would you agree to be chipped in exchange for something you really need? Like a job? Like a life-saving operation?

Back Talk is requested. Leave a comment.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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