Some of the more relevant, less repetitive articles I come across…these are just three from the wide collection at infowars.com–which, in turn, is culled from many others. This trend cannot be denied; consequently, it is our responsibility to understand and inform our legislators and power-makers that we do not want this invisibly sewn into our clothes, or planted into our flesh.
Human chips more than skin-deep
C Net | August 23 2004
There’s not a lot of middle ground on the subject of implanting electronic identification chips in humans.
Advocates of technologies like radio frequency identification tags say their potentially life-saving benefits far outweigh any Orwellian concerns about privacy. RFID tags sewn into clothing or even embedded under people’s skin could curb identity theft, help identify disaster victims and improve medical care, they say.
Critics, however, say such technologies would make it easier for government agencies to track a person’s every movement and allow widespread invasion of privacy. Abuse could take countless other forms, including corporations surreptitiously identifying shoppers for relentless sales pitches. Critics also speculate about a day when people’s possessions will be tagged–allowing nosy subway riders with the right technology to examine the contents of nearby purses and backpacks.
“Invasion of privacy is going to be impossible to avoid,” said Katherine Albrecht, the founder and director of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, or CASPIAN, a watchdog group created to monitor the use of data collected in the so-called loyalty programs used increasingly by supermarkets. Albrecht worries about a day when “every physical item is registered to its owner.”
The overriding idea behind tagging people with chips–whether through implants or wearable devices such as bracelets–is to improve identification and, consequently, tighten access to restricted information or physical areas.
But on top of civil liberties and other policy issues, such technologies face visceral objections from many people who frown on the idea of being implanted with tags that can track them like migrating tuna. Complaints have led several companies to abandon plans to use RFID technologies in products, much less in human bodies.
The concept of implanting chips for tracking purposes was introduced to the general public more than a decade ago, when pet owners began using them to keep tabs on dogs and cats. The notion of embedding RFID tags in the human body, though, remained largely theoretical until the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, when a technology executive saw firefighters writing their badge numbers on their arms so that they could be identified in case they became disfigured or trapped.
Richard Seelig, vice president of medical applications at security specialist Applied Digital Solutions, inserted a tracking tag in his own arm and told the company’s CEO that it worked. A new product, the VeriChip, was born.
Applied Digital formed a division named after the chip and says it has sold about 7,000 of the electronic tags. An estimated 1,000 have been inserted in humans, mostly outside the United States, with no harmful physical side effects reported from the subcutaneous implants, the company said.
“It is used instead of other biometric applications,” such as fingerprints, said Angela Fulcher, vice president of marketing at VeriChip, which is based in Palm Beach, Fla. The basic technology comes from Digital Angel, a sister company under the Applied corporate umbrella that has sold thousands of tags for identifying pets and other animals.
VeriChip makes 11-millimeter RFID tags that are implanted in the fatty tissue below the right tricep. When near a scanner, the chip is activated and emits an ID number. When a person’s tag number matches an ID in a database, the person is allowed to enter a secured room or complete a financial transaction.
So far, enhancing physical security–controlling access to buildings or other areas–remains the most common application. RFID chips cannot track someone in real time the way the Global Positioning System does, but they can provide information such as whether a particular individual has gone through a door.
Latin American customers are looking at both technologies for security purposes, which partly explains why some of VeriChip’s early clients included Mexico’s attorney general, as well as a Mexican agency trying to curb the country’s kidnapping epidemic, and commercial distributors in Venezuela and Colombia.
The value of these technologies was underscored recently by a CNET News.com reader who wrote from Puerto Rico to inquire about their development. In her e-mail, Frances Pabon said she hopes that RFID or GPS technologies can be used for her husband, who must travel through neighborhoods in San Juan that are infested with crack dealers.
“I think safeguarding his safety doesn’t necessarily violate his privacy,” she wrote. “And if I am made to choose between keeping him safe versus keeping him private, I’d rather keep him safe and then change private data such as credit cards, bank accounts, etc., after.”
Safety has been a primary driver in some U.S. applications as well. An Arizona company called Technology Systems International, for example, says it has improved security in prisons with an RFID-like system for inmates and guards. The company’s products came out in 2001 and are based on technology licensed from Motorola, which created it for the U.S. military to find gear lost in battle.
TSI’s wristbands for inmates transmit signals every two seconds to a battery of antennas mounted in the prison facility. By examining the time the signal is received by each antenna, a computer can determine the exact location of each prisoner at any given time and can reconstruct prisoners’ movements later, if necessary to investigate their actions.
Since the technology was installed at participating prisons, violence is down up to 60 percent in some facilities, said TSI President Greg Oester, who says the wristbands are designed for the “uncooperative user.” TSI, a division of security company Alanco Technologies, has installed the system in four prisons and will add a fifth soon.
“Inmates know they are being monitored and know they will get caught. The word spreads very quickly,” Oester said. “It increases the safety in facilities.”
In a California prison that uses the TSI technology, an inmate confessed to stabbing another prisoner 20 minutes after authorities showed him data from his radio transmitter that placed him in the victim’s cell at the time of the stabbing, Oester said. A women’s prison in the state has begun a pilot program to test whether the technology prevents sexual assaults.
Conversely, at an Illinois prison, Oester said, convicts have pointed to this sort of data as a way to prove that they weren’t involved in prison incidents. Guards have similar tags, embedded in pagers rather than wristbands, which set off an alarm if they are removed or tampered with.
Tagging hospital patients…and alumni?
Beyond law enforcement, the technology is drawing interest from a variety of industries that have pressing security needs. Companies that operate highly sensitive facilities, such as nuclear power plants, are looking at TSI’s technology.
Hospitals in Europe and the United States are also experimenting with inserting tags in ID bracelets. The Jacobi Medical Center in New York, along with Siemens Business Services, has launched a pilot program that will outfit more than 200 patients with radio bracelets.
This technology is designed to enable various health care professionals to obtain patient information such as X-rays and medical histories from a database securely and more quickly. The system will also use antennas to track individuals as they walk about the hospital and send alerts if a patient begins to collapse. Other pilot systems are being tested specifically to monitor patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
As such tagging systems become more widely known, some industries that hadn’t been expected to use the technology are considering innovative applications of it. A South Carolina firearms maker, FN Manufacturing, is evaluating the technology for use in “smart guns” equipped with grip sensors that would allow only their owners to use them.
In a less violent but practical application, Ray Hogan of Princeton University’s alumni association has contemplated distributing RFID bracelets among meeting attendees to track attendance at events that have multiple components. The technology would let organizers see which programs attendees find most valuable by virtue of how long they stay. Like others, however, Hogan says privacy issues may well keep the idea from becoming a reality.
When such technologies are employed, they can be even more effective if implanted in the body. Supporters and critics both say RFID tags under the skin would invariably increase the volume and quality of personal data, with the benefit of, at the very least, reducing the margin of error for misidentification in the event of a disaster.
The problem, detractors say, is that the vast quantities of accumulated data would be vulnerable to theft and abuse. They cite historical practices of retail establishments, which for years have listened in on customer conversations and viewed consumer behavior on remote cameras to improve sales. Supermarkets routinely collect data about individual shoppers’ purchases and buying habits through “loyalty programs,” along with credit card and electronic banking transactions.
Even random individuals could spy on those with tags, because today’s RFID technologies do not yet have the processing power to encrypt information. “I don’t see how you can get enough power into those things” to encrypt data, said Whitfield Diffie, a fellow and security expert at Sun Microsystems.
Some consumers have described scenarios in which a hacker could extract a person’s identification number with an RFID reader, create a chip with the same number and then impersonate them. But even if such chip forgery were possible, alerts would probably be sounded as soon as a system detected that the same person was in two different places at once.
Still, implanting RFID chips could vastly increase the potential for police surveillance of ordinary citizens. Conceivably, every wall socket could become an RFID reader that feeds into a government database.
Critics contend that if tagging gets out of control, the day will eventually come when the cops will be able to trace junk thrown in a public trash can back to the person who tossed it.
“Do you want the people in power to have that much power?” Albrecht asked rhetorically. “The infrastructure obstacle has been overcome. It is called electricity and the Internet. ”
What the FDA Won’t Tell You about the VeriChip
CBN News | December 10, 2004
A little electronic capsule, smaller than a dime, could be one of the biggest technological advances in how we share and store private medical records. It may also be one of the most controversial.
Known as the VeriChip, it is a microchip that is implanted under a person’s skin, and then scanned with a special reader device to reveal important medical data about that person.
Applied Digital, the Florida-based company that makes the VeriChip, hopes the implant will revolutionize how doctors obtain medical information, particularly in emergency situations. Theoretically, if a person can’t speak, medics could scan that person and quickly be linked to a database that would provide crucial information like the patient’s identity, blood type and drug allergies.
Dr. Csaba Magassi, a plastic surgeon in Northern Virginia, is among a nationwide network of doctors who are ready and waiting to implant the VeriChip into willing patients. His office receives calls daily from people inquiring about the chip.
Dr. Magassi said, “If you are in an auto accident, [and] you are unconscious, they could scan you, know exactly who you are; your medical history can easily be printed out onto the hospital record.”
Dr. Magassi added, “If a patient comes in requesting the VeriChip, I usually tell them it takes between two and five minutes to place the device in place. A needle which contains the VeriChip is inserted. The needle pushes the device through, and it is implanted permanently. Put a bandaid on and you are done.”
Dr. Magassi demonstrated the procedure for CBN News on an apple. Once the microchip was inserted, the hand-held scanner read the number on the chip using radio frequency waves. Think of it as a human barcode.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the VeriChip implant for medical use in humans in October, a huge victory for Applied Digital.
In an effort to jumpstart interest, the company launched the “Get Chipped” campaign. It is offering a discount to the first few hundred people who get the implant, and also plans to donate hundreds of scanners to the nation’s trauma units to promote use of the VeriChip.
But in a letter obtained by CBN News from the FDA to the VeriChip makers, the microchip is not completely safe. In fact, the letter lists a whole host of health risks associated with the device, including “adverse tissue reaction,” “electrical hazards” and “MRI incompatibility.”
Applied Digital and the Food and Drug Administration refused our requests for an interview to discuss these risks.
Consumer privacy advocate Katherine Albrecht said, “There are millions of people that have read the press reports about all the positives of this technology, but really have no idea about its dangers.”
Albrecht strongly opposes the VeriChip for the physical risks it poses, as well as the privacy risks. She has been called “the Erin Brokovich of RFID chips.”
On her Web site, http://www.spychips.com, Albrecht reveals the potential dangers of the VeriChip and other radio frequency identification methods.
Albrecht said, “There’s a very serious concern that, already, engineers and people who think along those lines are already thinking like hackers and criminals — they’re already starting to say, how can this system be compromised, how can it be abused? When you are dealing with a radio frequency device, by design, it is transmitting info using invisible radio waves at a distance. In this case, that distance is only a couple of inches or a couple of feet so it’s not a huge distance, but it means that anyone who can get within a couple of inches or a few feet of you, even with a reader device they have hidden in a backpack or a purse, would be able to scan that number, obtain that info and potentially duplicate it.”
And it is not just private medical information at stake. The microchip implant technology has been around for several years now, and has been used for a variety of different applications.
Thousands of chips have been implanted in pets by veterinarians for identification purposes. Livestock is now chipped to track things like mad-cow disease. Manufacturers are putting chips in products like clothing and shoes for marketing research.
In Mexico, the attorney general and his top aides were chipped for security purposes. And, in Spain at the Baja Beach Club, patrons can get a microchip with their financial information implanted, so they can pay for their cocktails with a swipe of the arm. As these pictures seem to suggest, getting chipped is fun and painless.
Applied Digital also launched a brand new application for the chip last year called the “VeriPay.” This implant would hold all of a person’s financial information. Rather than swipe a card or pay cash, consumers would scan their wrists for purchases. And, if a swipe of the wrist becomes too troublesome, there are already prototypes made of doorway portals that can simply scan a person and their purchases as they walk through the door.
Allbrecht said, “I think there is a very real concern that, down the road, such a chip would become mandatory. And not necessarily initially, but it would be voluntary, in the same way let’s say as credit cards or a drivers license is voluntary. No one forces you to have a driver’s license or to have a cell phone, but yet the vast majority of people do, because it is very difficult to function in a normal society without it.”
For now, though, a microchip implant is voluntary. Only a few thousand chips have been sold and only a fraction of those have been implanted in humans.
For someone who wants an implant for medical purposes, Dr. Magassi and others are standing by. Magassi says, “If they want it, God love ‘em. I’ll put it in. It’s as simple as that.”
The VeriChip just recently made its debut in a Miami, Florida nightclub, where patrons had the opportunity to “Get Chipped,” much like the Baja Beach club patrons in Spain.
LIFE WITH BIG BROTHER
People-tracking closer to reality Deal forged to equip VeriChip with global positioning satellite
WorldNetDaily | December 23, 2004
Setting the stage for controversial tracking technology, the satellite telecommunications company ORBCOMM has signed an agreement with VeriChip Corp., maker of the world’s first implantable radio frequency identification microchip.
VeriChip, a subsidiary of Applied Digital , will work with ORBCOMM to develop and market new military, security and healthcare applications in the U.S. and around the world, the company said.
As WorldNetDaily reported , Applied Digital has created and successfully field-tested a prototype of an implant for humans with GPS, or global positioning satellite, technology.
Satellites monitored 24 hours a day from ORBCOMM’s Network Control Center in Dulles, Va. (photo courtesy: ORBCOMM)
Once inserted into a human, it can be tracked by GPS technology and the information relayed wirelessly to the Internet, where an individual’s location, movements and vital signs can be stored in a database for future reference.
“ORBCOMM’s relationship with VeriChip provides yet another new and important industry that will use the ORBCOMM satellite system and its ground infrastructure network to transmit messages globally,” ORBCOMM CEO Jerry Eisenberg said.
Initially, after privacy concerns and verbal protests over marketing the technology for government use , Applied backed away from public discussion about such implants and the possibility of using them to usher in a “cashless society.”
In addition, to quell privacy concerns , the company issued numerous denials , stating it had no plans for implants.
When WND reported in April 2002 that the company planned such implant technology, Applied Digital spokesman Matthew Cossolotto accused WND of intentionally printing falsehoods.
Less than three weeks later, however, the company issued a press release announcing that it was accelerating development on a GPS implant.
Companies Will Jointly Develop and Market Innovative Military, Security and Healthcare Applications for VeriChip(TM), the World’s First Implantable Microchip
Business Wire | December 15, 2004
FORT LEE, N.J. — Companies Will Jointly Develop and Market Innovative Military, Security and Healthcare Applications for VeriChip(TM), the World’s First Implantable Microchip
ORBCOMM, a global satellite telecommunications company, today announced that it has executed an agreement with VeriChip(TM) Corporation, a subsidiary of Applied Digital (NASDAQ:ADSX), to be its provider of satellite and telecommunication services for applications to be developed for use with the world’s first implantable radio frequency identification (RFID) microchip, also called VeriChip(TM).
Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will also work together to develop and market new military, security, and healthcare applications for use in the United States and around the world.
VeriChip(TM) Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Applied Digital. The VeriChip product is a subdermal RFID microtransponder that can be used in a variety of security, financial, emergency identification and healthcare applications. About the size of a grain of rice, each VeriChip Device contains a unique verification number that is captured by briefly passing a proprietary scanner over the VeriChip. In October 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cleared VeriChip for medical applications in the United States. VeriChip is not a FDA-regulated device with regards to its security, financial, personal identification/safety applications.
“ORBCOMM’s relationship with VeriChip(TM) provides yet another new and important industry that will use the ORBCOMM satellite system and its ground infrastructure network to transmit messages globally,” Jerry Eisenberg, CEO of ORBCOMM, said.
ORBCOMM is a wireless telecommunications company that provides reliable, cost effective data communications services to customers around the world through its unique low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite network and global ground infrastructure. A diverse customer base, including industry leaders General Electric, Caterpillar Inc., Volvo Trucks, XATA, and AirIQ, uses ORBCOMM services to track, monitor and control mobile and fixed assets including trucks, containers, marine vessels, locomotives, heavy machinery, pipelines, oil wells, utility meters and storage tanks anywhere in the world. For more information call 1-800-ORBCOMM or visit its Web site at www.ORBCOMM.com.
About Applied Digital
Applied Digital develops innovative security products for consumer, commercial and government sectors worldwide. Its unique and often proprietary products provide security for people, animals, the food supply, government/military arena and commercial assets. Included in this diversified product line are RFID applications, end-to-end food safety systems, GPS/Satellite communications and telecomm and security infrastructure, positioning Applied Digital as the leader of Security Through Innovation. Applied Digital is the owner of a majority position in Digital Angel Corporation (AMEX: DOC). For more information, visit the company’s website at http://www.adsx.com .
This release contains forward-looking statements, including statements regarding ORBCOMM’s expected commercial operations. These forward-looking statements are based on a number of assumptions and ORBCOMM’s actual results and operations may be materially different from those expressed or implied by such statements.