A patent
has been issued for a technique enabling an invisible tattoo to be
placed under the skin of a consumer purchasing goods and services
online, according to a report published by
computer giant Compaq.

The patented procedure, titled, “Method For Verifying Human Identity
During Electronic Sale Transactions,” was developed by Houston inventor
Thomas W. Heeter. His patent — bearing U.S. Patent No. 5,878,155 and
granted in March, 1999 — “describes how people can be identified for
eCommerce transactions by invisible barcodes tattooed on their skin.”
The patent identifies invisible tattoo ink that is currently available
commercially, according to the Compaq report.

According to Heeter’s abstract, “a barcode or a design is tattooed on
an individual. Before the sales transaction can be consummated, the
tattoo is scanned with a scanner.”

“Characteristics about the scanned tattoo are compared to
characteristics about other tattoos stored on a computer database in
order to verify the identity of the buyer,” the abstract says. “Once
verified, the seller may be authorized to debit the buyer’s electronic
bank account in order to consummate the transaction. The seller’s
electronic bank account may be similarly updated.”

Heeter could not be reached for comment. But his research comes on
the heels of other so-called biotechnology that has been widely
criticized by industry officials and private organizations, claiming
such innovations — which ultimately must be stored on a central
computer system — are too easily abused and exploited.

One industry source, speaking with WorldNetDaily on the condition of
anonymity, said Heeter’s technology would be difficult to apply to
e-commerce.

“Personally, I don’t see what advantages an invisible tattoo would
bring,” the source said. “The PC or other Internet access device would
still require a device to ‘read’ the tattoo. It is no different than
having to swipe a credit card over a PC — no anonymity, and the
information is available to any hacker.”

Yet, with Internet e-commerce figures spiraling upward, and the
European market expected to surpass the U.S. online community in a
couple of years, potential sales online have been projected to reach
nearly $1 trillion by 2003. However, according to some critics of the
barcode technology, one sure way to stifle the growth of Internet sales
is to require people to be tattooed with a barcode.

The latest innovations in the field of implantable barcode
technology, first reported by WorldNetDaily in July,
indicate a growing trend among governmental and business leaders to
track commerce — if not the actual buying habits and movement of
persons on a global scale.

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  • Privacy issues move to the forefront

  • Big Brother’s watching

  • Under your skin

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