Though the bill only targets those with conditions such as Alzheimers and autism, critics say the bill’s passage will open a “pandora’s box” of invasive government surveillance.
Six years ago, NBC Nightly News boldly predicted that all Americans would be fitted with RFID microchips by the year 2017. Though at the time, NBC’s prediction seemed far-fetched, the House recently passed a bill that would bring a micro-chipped populace closer to reality before year’s end. Last Thursday, the House passed HR 4919, also known as Kevin and Avonte’s Law, which would allow the US attorney general to award grants to law enforcement for the creation and operation of “locative tracking technology programs.” Though the program’s mission is to find “individuals with forms of dementia or children with developmental disabilities who have wandered from safe environments,” it provides no restriction on the tracking programs inclusion of other individuals. The bill would also require the attorney general to work with the secretary of health and human services and unnamed health organizations to establish the “best practices” for the use of tracking devices.
Those in support of the legislation maintain that such programs could prevent tragedies where those with mental or cognitive disabilities wandered into dangerous circumstances. Yet, others have called these good intentions a “Trojan horse” for the expansion of a North American police state as the bill’s language could be very broadly interpreted.
“While this initiative may have noble intentions, ‘small and temporary’ programs in the name of safety and security often evolve into permanent and enlarged bureaucracies that infringe on the American people’s freedoms. That is exactly what we have here. A safety problem exists for people with Alzheimer’s, autism and other mental health issues, so the fix, we are told, is to have the Department of Justice, start a tracking program so we can use some device or method to track these individuals 24/7,” Representative Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said in a floor speech opposing the bill.
Gohmert’s assessment is spot-on. Giving local police the authority to decide who is micro-chipped and who is not based on their mental soundness is a recipe for disaster. Though the bill specifically mentions those with Alzheimer and autism, how long before these tracking programs are extended to those with ADHD and Bipolar disorder among other officially recognized disorders. Even the dislike of authority is considered a mental disorder known as “Oppositional Defiant Disorder,” which could also warrant micro-chipping in the future. If these programs expand unchecked, how long will it be before all Americans are told that mass microchipping is necessary so that law enforcement and the government can better “protect” them? Many Americans have been content to trade their liberties for increased “security” in the post-9/11 world, particularly when the state uses these talking points. Yet, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”