Skip to main content

Facing the threat: Invading the body for national security


The purpose of this paper is to explore the increasing use of biometric technology implemented in the global fight against domestic and international terrorism. Particular attention will be paid to the surveillance society, as the internalization of the mere prospect of observation results in the self-policing of populations. This concept will demonstrate the amplification of behavior modification and the irony produced as the technologies are implemented simultaneously as an instrument of public protection and a form of social control. I will outline the technologies available before exploring the possible implications they could produce. This will emphasize the ever-increasing surveillance of the social world with the notion of escalating dissent that is implemented as justification for the erosion of civil liberties and mass social subjugation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Associated Press. (2002). “Family Armed with Chip in Medical First,” 〈〉, 11 May.

  • BBC1. (2003). News at 10, 25 March.

  • Campbell, J., Alyea, L., and Dunn, J. (1997). “Government Application and Operations,” 〈〉.

  • Chomsky, N. (1989). Necessary Illusions, London: Pluto Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chomsky, N. (2001). 9–11, New York: Seven Stories Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cohen, S. (1985). Visions of Social Control, London: Polity Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Davies, P., Jupp, V., and Francis, P., eds (1999). Invisible Crimes, London: MacMillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Davis, S. (2002). “Law That Favours Disorder,” in The Guardian Big Brother supplement, 21 September.

  • Davis, S. (1996). Big Brother, London: Pan Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Feder, B. J. (2001). “A Surge in Demand to Use Biometrics,” 〈〉, 17 December.

  • Garfinkel, S. (2000). Database Nation, California: O’Reilly & Associates, Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Halbfinger, D. M. (2003). “Police Dragnets for DNA Tests Draw Criticism,” 〈〉, 4 January.

  • Harvey, F. (2001). “Technology That Stands Out from the Crowd,” 〈〉, 25 September.

  • Lichtblau, E. (2003). “New Federal Plan for DNA Testing,” 〈〉, 12 March

  • Lyon, D. (2001). Surveillance Society, Buckinghamshire: Open University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Meek, J. (2002). “Codes for Conduct” in The Guardian Big Brother supplement, 21 September.

  • Newman, A. (2002). “Judge Rules Fingerprints Cannot Be Called a Match,” 〈〉, 11 January.

  • Plotkin, H. (2001). “No Silver Bullets: Giving Up Privacy for Security Will Leave Us with Neither,” 〈〉, 18 September.

  • Reuters. (2001). “Microchips under the Skin Offer ID, Raise Questions,” 〈〉, 22 December.

  • Richtel, M. (2002). “Voices in Your Head? Check That Chip in Your Arm,”

  • Rosen, J. (2001). “A Cautionary Tale for a New Age of Surveillance,” 〈〉, 7 October.

  • Travis, A. (2002). “National Card Games” in The Guardian Big Brother supplement, 21 September.

  • Vidal, G. (2002). The Last Empire, London: Abacus.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wade, N. (2003). “On the Scent of Terrorists,” 〈〉, 5 January.

  • Wilson, J. (2002). “Girl to Get Tracker Implant to Ease Parents’ Fears,” in The Guardian, 3 September.

  • Woodward, J. D. (2001). “Facing Up to Terrorism,” 〈〉

  • Zizek, S. (2002). “Are We in a War? Do We Have an Enemy?,” 〈〉, 23 May.

  • Zizek, S. (2002). 〈〉, 25 April.

  • Zizek, S. (2003). 〈〉, 2 April.

  • Zizek, S. (2003). 〈〉, 2 April.

  • Zizek, S. (2003). 〈〉, 2 April.

Download references


Additional information

Miss Lindsey Wade is a criminologist and a prison drug rehabilitation practitioner. Her special interests include surveillance studies, human rights, and international terrorism.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wade, L. Facing the threat: Invading the body for national security. Know Techn Pol 17, 74–80 (2004).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Facial Recognition
  • Crime Scene
  • Moral Panic
  • International Terrorism
  • Biometric Technology