Homeless people have begun wearing barcodes on their necks so that they can get alms digitally. Despite the cash technically (when the potential donor has no cash to give a homeless person), this shows that begging just received a 2018 facelift and that begging 2.0 has arrived. This has come about thanks to a “new social innovation project, called Greater Change, [which] hands homeless people a QR code” much like those that are seen on concert tickets. This may just encourage homelessness further, but nonetheless, it is happening.
Now, it is possible for those carrying no cash to be hit up for money for the homeless, at least in England. While man helping his fellow man is the basis of a noble society in many ways, at the same time, it is a bit strange to see. In theory, the digital age was to solve many of these issues and it clearly has not.
There is good news and this idea is not necessarily bad, however. The needy person’s caseworker gets the data and the transactions, so this helps to ensure that the money is being used well and not blown on booze, drugs, etc. Also, if a homeless person really gets help, it can be monitored in what is paid by the government, so in theory, this could limit abuse.
Then again, promoting a cashless society has its own problems, according to many privacy rights advocates.
“The problem we’re trying to solve here is that we live in an increasingly cashless society, and, as well as this, when people give, they worry about what this money might be spent on,” stated Alex McCallion, founder of Greater Change, as he spoke to the BBC.
“So the solution we’ve come up with is a giving mechanism through your smartphone with a restrictive fund,” he added.
Making giving even safer for the person donating, the barcode that comes up tells why the person is homeless and gives other details. This way, someone can’t really lie about what they need the help for, where that help is going, or why they are in dire situations.
For this reason, Neil Coyle MP, the Labour co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ending Homelessness declared, “Necessity has again become the mother of invention, and now there is an app to try and help generate more public donations to homeless people. This intervention should not be necessary, but with a government ignoring the scale of the problem, any extra donations may help homeless people directly.”
Fair enough. This may not be such a bad use of technology. Still, it promotes a cashless society where everyone can be spied upon with every purchase just like a homeless person under government care can be.
This matters since personal data can be more effortlessly stolen, and digital transactions always seem to include some kind of fee.
Such concerns will consequently fall on the donors, who, according to the creators of the app, want to help the homeless even when only carrying credit or debit cards.
Yet if this is such a high priority, then why has society reached the point where barcodes must now be used to help them?
Apparently, no one is supposed to ask that.