- The murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman have panicked
parents in the UK...
- LONDON, England -- Worried
UK parents are asking to have tracking microchips implanted into their
children following the murders of two 10-year-old girls, a cybernetics
- Scientist Kevin Warwick from Reading University, west
of London, says parents can keep track of their children with a tiny microchip
implant in the arm or stomach.
- Such a chip could prevent an abduction from becoming
a murder, he says.
- "A number of families have contacted me after the
murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman with the possibility of using
an implant for their own daughter," Warwick told Reuters.
- The bodies of the two friends were found in remote woodland
two weeks after they went missing from their home town of Soham in eastern
England on August 4.
- One family, the Duvals, has offered up their 11-year-old
daughter Danielle as the first guinea pig to test the electronic tag, which
Warwick said he hopes to perfect sometime before Christmas.
- The issue is set to become a controversial one in Britain
with parents welcoming the idea, but civil liberties group expected to
protest at the "big brother" possibilities of the tags being
exploited either by the authorities or illegally.
- Robotics scientist Warwick is a controversial figure
already in Britain, gaining fame after he wired his own nervous system
to a computer in an experiment he hopes will eventually give paralysed
people more control over their own bodies.
- "There are several options, including the possibility
of using a mobile phone network to transmitting a signal and linking it
to a global positioning system," he said.
- The operation would involve implanting a small transmitter
about one inch long into the child's arm or stomach, Warwick says.
- "A potential abductor wouldn't know the child had
the device and it could be switched off to sleep mode when it wasn't needed
to conserve its battery," he added.
- Watches that perform a similar function are already commercially
available in the United States, but they can be too easily removed and
discarded, Warwick said.
- Danielle's mother Wendy told Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper:
"After the news of Holly and Jessica we sat down as a family and discussed
what we could do... I know nothing is ever foolproof but we believe the
microchip will go a long way to protecting her."
- A spate of recent abductions in the United States have
also put parents there on edge as they worry about their children, but
Warwick believes it is for society to decide if a microchip implant is
the ethical way to combat such fears.
- "There are of course many more questions to be asked
and I suspect there will be objections to an implant, but if the general
trend in Britain is in favour of such an operation it will be ready to
go by Christmas," he said.