Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


No Child Left Untagged

CSO’s Security Feed has a story “RFID Technology Prevents Infant Abduction.” The story reads like a press release:

VeriChip Corporation, a subsidiary of Applied Digital (ADSX), a provider of security and identification technology, stated that its “Hugs” RFID infant protection system prevented the abduction of a baby at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina. A BioTechWeek article on reported that the Hugs system alarm went off when the infant was removed from the nursery and the staff and security personnel responded quickly to recover the baby, returning him to safety in the maternity ward. The Hugs Infant Protection System has a tiny radio transmitter that is worn on the baby’s wrist or ankle. Exit points throughout the hospital are electronically monitored to detect unauthorized removal of an infant. In the last 22 years, there have been 233 infant abductions in the United States, half of which occurred from healthcare facilities.

So, doing a little digging, it seems the ‘abductors’ were Walter Mitchell and Juanita Slade, the baby’s parents. Mitchell and Slade’s other children are wards of the state because of drug issues. However, they cared enough about their child to bring him to a hospital for a checkup after he was born. Now the press is touting this as an “abduction.”

I have very mixed feelings about all of this. Most child abductions in the US are custody battles. I know a fair number of smart, well-adjusted, successful people with “alternative” lifestyles who are terrified of DSS and their ilk. (See Fight CPS, Child “Protection?”, or AFRA Horror Stories for more.) The story above could have been written “Modern technology used to keep families apart.”

2 comments on "No Child Left Untagged"

  • NIk says:

    Hey at least with RFID it’d be easier to identify those pesky 11-month olds on the TSA no-fly list 🙂

  • John Kelsey says:

    With both of our kids, I noticed this elaborate and expensive set of security procedures. I kept wondering whether this was responding to a real threat, or a headline threat. I mean, having a child disappear from the nursery, when it has been taken by someone other than a near relative, is national news, right? (Is that right?)
    I think there are two parts to this:
    a. It’s very bad for the hospital to have this happen, for liability and publicity reasons, so they have an incentive to prevent it.
    b. It plays on basic human fears to think of some predator taking your newborn away. I’m guessing that many years of evolution have installed a pretty strong predisposition to find the idea of that so terrifying, that if you can visualize it happening, you take steps to prevent it.

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