Interesting legal issue

edited November 2015 in Everything else
This came up with someone on IRC (not in #biohack, another channel I frequent - but that's besides the point).

Suppose you're loaded up with implants and you get in legal trouble and get arrested, could the police force removal of those implants or demand you download data from them?


  • Can the police take you carbon fiber blades/prosthetic legs if you're an amputee, or force you to hand them files from a computer?
  • A normal computer the police can simply seize it and have their forensics people analyse the harddrive.

    An implanted computer on the other hand - to seize it they'd need to get a doctor to remove it, and a doctor would not be able to remove it without permission of the "patient".

    What i'm wondering is whether you can be obligated to produce data from a device even without it being removed.
  • edited November 2015
    No, a normal computer the police can't just "seize", it requires a warrant. The only time the police can view information on anyone's computer is when the person involved does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy (i.e. browsing the net in a starbucks, people can see what you are searching for).

    They can certainly require that you provide them with any information you have access to (a subpoena), regardless of how that information is stored. So, yes to that question. If the only way to access the information would be to cut yourself open and extract it, that sounds like a new legal precedent would need to be set. However, I can't imagine that would ever really come up (multiply incidence of people with that type of implant by the number of people that happen to find themselves in a legal situation where that specific information is relevant to their legal trouble by the incidence the police actually know that information exists). 

    Any attempt to break your skin without your consent while you are not cognitively impaired (insane) would be assault.
  • Here in the UK police can in fact seize computers without a warrant, but even if a warrant is required it's not really a big deal for them to get one for a normal desktop or laptop.

    As for it never coming up - at some point it will if we manage to get such implants to mainstream acceptance, so it's worth investigating these issues.
  • edited November 2015
    I've talked about this to a few people in the past.

    This particular question is easy: it depends on the jurisdiction. some places yes, some no. e.g. in the UK, if you don't hand over data, you can be sent to jail. some countries don't have laws like that, meaning you can't be compelled to give up the data.

    However, this is going to become far more interesting at the point in the future where we good enough neural interfaces to transfer data. at that point, unless they physically remove the implant, the only way to access the data is for the user to tell them, which in most places is not legally enforceable, and even if it were, they would have no way of verifying the information. 
  • edited November 2015
    You have pretty well covered it @bciuser and @alexsmith. The only thing I could think would really be accessible to the police would probably be an RFID chip. Bare with me now, the chip has no real security measure and we technically don't try and keep that information secure or private seeing how we passively broadcast to readers. Key word being broadcast. I would argue there is no expectation of privacy because it is openly broadcasted giving the right equipment.

    Seeing how data storage isn't that high on one I wouldn't see any information actually being of use on it.

    As for when arrested I could see them requiring the removal for jail sentencing because it is body modification similar to piercings. I can't see the removal of a large implant such as your cortex that your working on seeing how it would be risky.

    This is a very interesting subject to me that I haven't thought about.
  • Meanderpaul  you are mostly correct, however, ntag216 NFC chips do have strong enough crypto that even the police probably wouldn't be able to read them without the password. Most people don't password protect their implants, but it is an option.

    Try asking someone there?
  • edited November 2015
    A question I would have is how would they know you have a implant to begin with?(Barring having metal or hardware sticking out of your body.)

    Another reason they may have your surrender your implants or at least the data on them is if they thought you were planning a prison break, or trafficking substance or information.
  • @johndoe I'm guessing if they ever got as mainstream as it would have to be for this to be a question most would be capable of detecting it through use of metal detectors or other such devices.
  • On a side note do RFID/NFC tags show up on a full body scan at airports?
  • RFID tags don't show up on airport body scanners. Those don't show stuff below the skin. I wouldn't put it past TSA to order someone to relinquish a pacemaker though.
  • Heh, What are they gonna do? Perform open heart surgery in the security terminal?
  • Haha That would be a sight
  • Is getting a pacemaker still consider invasive?

    Hove you seen what those guy can shove up there ass? Imagine what they could do with a implant.
  • I'd say a pacemaker is pretty invasive, it's not a casual thing putting wires into your heart tissue...
  • edited November 2015
    I would think that anything that requires to cut your skin open to be invasive.

    Heck, we are not even allowed to perform CPR without consent (unconscious patients gave implied consent for treatments).
  • Some places the cpr consent is true but there are Good Samaritan laws that can protect you but that's a deviation from the subject.

    I couldn't see a legal issue yet unless it some how gets thruster into main stream HARD.
  • I was illustrating how strict the laws can get when bodily autonomy is involved.

    If I cannot do surgery without consent even to save someone's life it becomes doubtful that the police can force someone to surgically remove their implants. So until we can somehow teleport implants out of people's bodies...
  • edited November 2015
    That wouldn't be legal either, as the resulting cavity can cause... Problems. Nature abhors a vacuum. And  teleporting a gas in can cause embolisms. Solids and liquids would have to be sterile too. No different than surgery.
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