Ascent Bi-Nano chip

Civil liberties

Information, information everywhere: will it become even harder to keep personal information to ourselves?

These days, everyone – from governments and health workers to banks and supermarkets – seems to want more personal information.

One set of nanotechnology applications will offer new possibilities for collecting data. Tiny sensors embedded in clothes, products or even bodies could monitor the movement of people or products, or record health information. It might mean we are observed, sorted, profiled and classified wherever we go, and whatever we do.

This can be harmless, if it helps service providers or companies give us what we need. But it may also make it harder to protect our privacy or keep personal information confidential.

These concerns are not new and are already discussed in relation to barcodes, ID cards, computer databases and CCTV cameras. Nanotechnologies may not give rise to any new issues, but they are likely to intensify existing debates.

Lead image:

Penn State CC BY NC ND

About this resource

This resource was first published in ‘Nanoscience’ in June 2005 and reviewed and updated in August 2014.

Biotechnology and engineering
Education levels:
16–19, Continuing professional development