Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) chip implant Essay Example

11RFID Chip Implant

Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) chip implant


Abstract 3

Introduction 4

Ethical analysis of RFID chip implanted in the body of a human being 5


5Deontological Ethics

6Social contract theory

6Character based ethics theory

7ACS code of ethics

Discussion 8

Application of ethical decision making model 9

Conclusion 10

References 10


Implantation of RFID chip to humans has been widely debated with different views on whether it is ethical to implant the chip on humans or not. Its various advantages have been cited as well as its various disadvantages. Some of the cited advantages include that it can help the government to trace criminals and also to help in attending to patients who cannot communicate well since the chip will carry all the information related to the patient. Some of the cited disadvantages lie on the security of the information as well as infringement to a person’s privacy. The ethics regarding implantation of the chip has been debated around ethical theories such as utilitarianism, deontology, social contract, character based as well as the ACS code of ethics. However, the decision has been left to individuals to weigh the advantages versus the disadvantages after all the information has been provided.


Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) chip technology involves use of electronic waves to transfer information for the purpose of identification and tracking the objects that have the chip attached to. The chip contains information regarding the object which is electronically stored. RFID chips have been used in many industries especially in the supply chain management. It is used in manufacturing especially for the fast moving consumer goods where the products must be counted severally during production and packaging. The RFID tag for on such products makes counting easier since the products are just scanned simultaneously. RFID has also been used in management of cargo flow, and in tracking ship containers (Kitsos & Zhang, 2008).

Recently, RFID chip technology has been extended to humans where the microchip is implanted into the subdermal containing a unique identification number which is linked to the person’s information stored in external database. The information may include personal identification details, contact information, and medical information such as medications and allergies. However, implantation of the RFID chip on humans has raised a lot of controversies with some people in support of the technology and others not in supports, those in supports of use of the chip in humans argue that it can help in it allows easier access to a person’s medical information, it can help in locating missing persons and that it can help in tracking criminals. Those against the chip technology raise concerns on issues that such as health risks posed by the existence of the chip on human body, security risks and invasion into a person’s privacy among other concerns (Masters & Michael, 2005).

Based on the views of the proponents and the opponents on use of the chip technology on humans, this paper analysis the dilemma on whether the benefits of RFID chip implants for individuals, organisations and/or the broader community outweigh security and privacy concerns with RFID chip implants. The paper looks into the issue based on ethical theories of utilitarianism, deontology, social contract, character based as well as the ACS code of ethics.

Ethical analysis of RFID chip implanted in the body of a human being


Utilitarianism provides an answer on what man ought to do by making a focus on consequences. Utilitarian-based ethics focuses on actions that provide greatest good for many people. The theory explains that whether an act is right or wrong should be judged by how its consequences benefit the people. If there is no great difference in the consequences of the act, utilitarians believes that such is not a moral issue. A moral issue is one where the consequences can be said to be right or wrong if they are of much significance to the person such that he/she would wish the act performed in a preferred manner. According to Utilitarianism, ‘good’ is defined as pleasure without pain. Therefore the moral duty of humans is to ‘maximize pleasure and minimize pain (Shaw, 1999).

Deontological Ethics

Deontological Ethics focuses on rightness and wrongness of actions themselves, and not the rightness or wrongness of the consequences of the actions or to the person and his/her habits. Therefore according to a Deontologist, the goodness or badness of a situation depends on whether the action that led to it was right or wrong. What makes an action to be right is whether it conforms to a moral norm. More consideration should be given on whether it was right over whether it was good. Deontologists give an example of someone wanting to kill everyone living in a land that cannot support agriculture in order to eliminate starvation. According to their view, killing in this case is right because it would eliminate starvation which is a bad state of affairs. Deontology theory is also viewed as duty-based because Deontologists believe that people are bound to their duty by ethical rules (Christian Research Institute, 2000).

Social contract theory

Social contract theory states that morality is defined by the set of rules that govern behavior, which would be accepted by reasonable people on the condition that other people will also accept them. The theory is based on the view that moral or political obligation of people depends on the agreement among them as they form their own society. The Socrates, who are the makers of social contract theory argue that people have an obligation to obey the law in their society because they make their existence possible. The laws made it possible for their parents to marry and them to become their legitimate children. They also argue that citizens are not coerced to obey laws and they can leave if they are not happy with how the society conducts itself in accordance with the law.

According to the theory, people agree to follow laws of the state on condition that others also follow. This would ensure that everyone is safe from each other and that everyone benefits from the social goods that would result from this existence. Therefore all people living under a government are parties to a social contract. The role of the state is to enforce the laws that promote social living, while morality consists of rules that promote social living (Rainbow, 2002).

Character based ethics theory

This theory states that aright action is one that would be done by a virtuous person in the same circumstances. The theory focuses on the moral character of the person who is involved in the action and not the ethical duties, or the consequences of the actions. The theory talks about virtue ethics which is based on a person and not the action. It explains that a good person is one who lives virtuously and possesses virtues. The theory therefore suggests that a good society can be built by helping people to be good instead of using laws to make people good or to prevent bad actions. The virtues defined by this theory are the good character traits of kindness, honesty, truthfulness, generosity and justice (Rainbow, 2002).

ACS code of ethics

The Australian Computer Society is regulated by a code of professional conduct which requires its members to uphold honor and dignity in professionalism. It requires them to be good citizens who act in accordance with the law and conform to ACS values of primacy of public interest, enhancement of quality of life, honesty, competence, professional development and professionalism. In regard to primacy of public interest, ACS code of ethics requires the members to place interests of members of public above their personal or business interests. In accordance to this, the members are requires identify the interests of those that might be impacted by their work. The interest to be considered applies to issues regarding public health, safety and environment.

On enhancement of quality of life, the code of ethics acknowledges the significant impact ICT has on the society and people’s lives. This might be both negative and positive. ACS members are therefore required to minimize the negative impacts and promote access to the benefits brought by ICT to all people. This requires them to focus on how ICT can promote the lives of the disadvantaged, as well as promoting the health and safety of those that might be affected by the work (Australian Computer Society, 2014).

ACS code of ethics requires the members to be honest to the members of public so that they can honor the trust that members of public have on the profession. All decisions they may must uphold honesty and integrity. The members are also required to uphold competence by accepting work that they are sure of their competence and also to remain informed of new technologies and practices relevant to their work (Australian Computer Society, 2014).


Various studies have been carried out on FRID chip to identify some of the benefits and potential risk the chip may have on humans. The American Medical Association (AMA) explains some of the benefits of the RFID chip as assisting in identification of patients which would improve the safety and efficiency of care delivered to the patients. Another argument on the benefit of RFID chip is that it will assist the government in locating escapees, witnesses of crimes and people who have gone missing. In Indonesia, the authorities of Irian Java province discussed that the chip would help in monitoring those infected with HIV and take action in case they are found to engage in activities that may infect other people (Gasson, Kosta, Bowman, 2012).

The CEO of VeriChip Corporation explains that the chip may be used to identify patients who may not be able to communicate with healthcare providers or the caregivers. Medical information regarding such patients may be accessed through the chip and could be used to save life in emergency situations especially for patients suffering from Alzheimer, heart diseases and Diabetes.

Various ethical issues have also been associated with FRID chip among them privacy issues and security risks as well as health problems. According to the American Medical Association, the information to be contained in the chip infringes on the privacy of the person. The information on the chip may also be used for other purposes not related to clinical care. The information may be abused and this may cause security risk to the patient. The chip also lacks mechanism to protect the information form unauthorized access. Any unauthorized access to such information may lead to victimization of the person, the healthcare coverage may be tampered with or publication of sensitive medical information regarding the patient. The chip violates three types of privacy of an individual; location privacy, decision privacy and information privacy. This means that an individual can be outlined and tracked without their knowledge (Michael & Michael, 2014).

Some minor health issues have also been associated with the implantation of the chip on humans. These include infection at the site of the implant, pain during implantation and reaction to the local anesthesia. These health problems are associated with the process of implantation and not the chip itself.

Application of ethical decision making model

The ethical issues associated with FRID can be evaluated from both the side of the patient and the physician using ethical theories discussed in this paper. To ensure that the chip is used for the good of the patent, Utilitarianism calls for focus on the consequences of the action to the people. In this case, the importance of the chip should be judged on how much good it brings to the majority of the people. Deontological theory focuses on the action which in this case is the process of implantation of the chip. Social contract theory calls for people to obey the laws that govern the society. The social contract theory in this case requires rational decision making by policy makers so that people will follow rules based on reasonable policies. The social contract theory also requires the people to accept the policy if by doing so everyone will benefit.

The solution to the dilemma can be found using the ACS code of ethics which requires the technology to consider the public interest and to improve the quality of life. Physicians should therefore weight the benefits versus the problems associated with the chip and come up with a conclusion based on the extent to which the chip helps to improve the lives of the people.


The dilemma on the use of RFID chip technology can be solved by creating adequate awareness to the members of public on its potential benefits and risks. This involves allowing the members of public to express their interests, informing them of the consequences of the chip, the procedure of implantation and its associated problems. The informed consent of the patient is also key in solving the dilemma of the RFID chip implant. This will help in solving the problems of privacy and abuse of information. However, the technology should be accompanied by mechanisms of regulating unauthorized access to patient’s information. Where benefits outweigh the problems, regulation will help in ensuring that the information is used for the good of the patient and that pain associated with it is minimized as is required by the utilitarianism ethics.


Kitsos, P. & Zhang, Y. (2008). RFID Security: Techniques, Protocols and System-On-Chip Design. New York: Springer.

Masters, A. & Michael, K. (2005). Humancentric applications of RFID implants: the usability contexts of control, convenience and care. NSW: University of Wollongong.

Michael, M. & Michael, K. (2014). “Uberveillance and the Social Implications of Microchip Implants: Emerging Technologies. Hershey: IGI Global.

Gasson, M., Kosta, E., Bowman, D. (2012). Human ICT Implants: Technical, Legal and Ethical Considerations. New York: Springer.

Shaw, W. (1999). Contemporary Ethics: Taking Account of Utilitarianism. London: Blackwell.

Rainbow, C. (2002). Descriptions of ethical theories and principles. Retrieved December 16, 2015, from

Christian Research Institute (2000).
Ethics Theories- Utilitarianism Vs. Deontological Ethics. Retrieved from deontological-ethics/

Australian Computer Society. (2014). ACS code of professional conduct. Retrieved from Conduct_v2.1.pdf