Oct. 25, 2004: Into sci-fi? Get a load of this. The Food and Drug Administration last week gave a company the go ahead to begin marketing microchips that can be implanted in humans to give physicians quick access to their medical records. We kid you not. The way it works: The rice-grain-size doodad is inserted just under the skin. (Note to the squeamish: no stitches required.) The VeriChip-as the device marketed by Florida-based Applied Digital Solutions is dubbed- stores a code that, when scanned, releases information in a database. The company touts the chip as a way for doctors to have instant access to crucial patient info during office visits as well as emergencies. Still-a microchip under your skin? You're not alone. "If privacy protections aren't built in at the outset, there could be harmful consequences for patients., " says Emily Stewart of the Health Privacy Project. Her advice: If you opt for the implants, include only vital stats like blood type and allergies-in other works, stuff you don't mind others knowing about you. Otherwise, let's say you're unconscious: "Do you really want the person treating you to know," asks Stewart, "that you were treated for, say mental illness at 15 or had an abortion at 17?" (Source: U.S. News & World Report, Oct. 25, 2004, p. 22.)
August 2, 2004: What do lost doges, mad cows and the Mexican police have in common? They may all benefit from radio frequency ID (RFID) tags made by VeriChip, a subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions in Palm Beach, Florida. Mexican Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha says he and 160 of his deputies had the rice-grain-size chips implanted under the skin of their arms. Only people with the chips can past electromagnetic scanners at a new federal anti-crime information center in Mexico City. Each month, says Applied Digital, such RFID chips help reunite 6,000 lost dogs and cats with their owners. The technology could also be used to keep tabs on all cattle that share feed, so their meat can be tracked if there's a renewed outbreak of mad cow disease. Chipping humans, it seems, is the inevitable next step. (Geri Smith, Business Week, August 2, 2004, p. 77.)
Applied Digital Solutions (ADS) has the patent (U.S. Patent #5,629,678) for the invention which is known as the Digital Angel. The CEO of ADS, Richard Sullivan, envisions a multi-billion dollar business for the new product. Recently, ADS has signed a preliminary partnership with Axiom Navigation (GPS industry). Axiom products will be featured in the prototype to be demonstrated in October.
Experts say Digital Angel could have a multiplicity of uses for public or individual safety such as a life-saving device for those with severe health problems or a method of locating a lost or kidnapped child.
Civil libertarians worry about invasion of privacy while Sullivan insists " We dont see that as an issue because its a voluntary thing."
Emily Whitfield, a spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union warns, "This is a situation that can go in the blink of an eye from being voluntary to being mandatory."
Cox News Service / December 27, 1999
http://www.businesswire.com/ August 29, 2000
From SCAN THIS NEWS 10/19/98
Can we 'fool Mother Nature'? Do we want to?
"The more things change, the more they remain the same," is just a cliché, right? The story of the Tower of Babel is read publicly in synagogues across the world on Saturday. This modern-day version would make great sci-fi, or maybe even satire, if it weren't so pathetic --- and true.
By David S. Oderberg
IMAGINE THAT YOU have been fitted with a tiny electronic device, measuring nearly an inch long and a third of an inch wide. This device receives and emits radio waves in the presence of transceivers in 'intelligent' buildings fitted to recognize the unique signal emanating from the tiny 'smart' chip in your body. This chip, implanted just under the skin on your arm, has immense advantages. With it you can open and close doors, pass through security channels set up to recognize your identity, operate machines such as computers and faxes, and generally negotiate your technological world with greater ease and convenience than at present. You can even use your chip to carry out daily commerce.
Swipe your arm over a scanner and you can make payments, have your account debited automatically, check you bank balance. In short, you can do everything which currently requires you to lug around a walletful of credit cards. One small catch, though: because of this chip, your whereabouts are known to others at every minute of every day. You can be tracked like a car or airplane.
Orwellian nightmare? Delusional apocalyptic fantasy? One would have thought so, until it emerged in the British press a short while ago that Kevin Warwick, professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading -- my own university, as a matter of fact -- has decided to try out such a scenario on himself.
Seeing himself as a latter day Edward Jenner -- the pioneering scientist who tried out the smallpox vaccine on his own body -- Prof. Warwick has entered the hallowed halls of self-experimentation by having just such a silicon chip injected under the skin near his elbow. He is, as far as anyone knows, the first person to do so. The results of his experiment are not yet known. He has to take antibiotics against the risk of infection, and is a little concerned his body will reject the alien device.
Speaking of the doctor who agreed to implant the chip, Prof. Warwick says: "If it all goes wrong and my arm explodes, which I have been warned could happen, my wife will probably sue...".
The good professor is, nevertheless, sanguine about the possible side effects. For he sees himself as a crusader at the cutting edge of cybertechnology. Already famous for his little machines -- looking a bit like cockroaches on wheels -- which, he glows, behave for all the world as though they have intelligence (something I and others doubted when we saw them in action), Prof. Warwick is thrusting forward in the attempt to fulfil the prophecy of his own recent best-seller, March of the Machines.
"It is possible," he says, "for machines to become more intelligent than humans in the reasonably near future. Machines will then become the dominant life form on earth." Is this a tragedy? No, he adds blithely: "We are just an animal, not much better or worse than the other animals. We have our uses [sic], because we are different. We are slightly more intelligent than the other animals."
The professor looks forward to the day when machines rule our lives. The fact that his microchip enables him to be traced is no great worry. His secretary finds it a boon: "It was often hard to find Prof. Warwick .. but since the implant we always know where he is."
And so would your employer if you were similarly implanted. You would be monitored every time you clocked in and out of work, or left the workplace. Prof. Warwick surmises the chip could carry all sorts of information, such as medical records, past convictions, financial data.
"It is quite possible for an implant to replace an Access or Visa card. There is very little danger in losing an implant or having it stolen," he said. But it seems Prof. Warwick is alive to the dangers of the microchip implant: "I know all this smacks of Big Brother," he comments.
Where the technology will ultimately go "I really don't know and would not like to envisage."
By now, you may well be feeling a little spooked. This is not surprising. Nor should the experiment itself be such a shock. After all, on October 11th 1993, The Washington Times reported on the "high-tech national tattoo" made by Hughes Aircraft Company --- an implantable transponder which the company called "an ingenious, safe, inexpensive, foolproof and permanent method of ... identification using radio waves."
In 1994, in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it was reported that a local humane society offered pet owners, for $25, to inject their dogs or cats with a microchip, to prevent their being lost or stolen. A Dr. Carl Sanders, electronics engineer and inventor of the Intelligent Manned Interface biochip, told the Monetary Economic Review that satellites could be used to track people fitted with the IMI chip: "We used this with military personnel in the Iraq war where they were actually tracked using this particular type of device."
Whether soldiers have actually 'volunteered' to be surgically implanted with the chip, as opposed to carrying it on their clothing, is not made clear by Dr. Sanders. But what we do know is that proponents of this technology envisage first using it on animals (now widespread, particularly dogs, cats and cattle), then prisoners (more effective than electronic ankle tags), then children (e.g., newborn babies, so as to prevent their being switched or lost) and elderly people suffering from Alzheimer's disease (to prevent their wandering and getting lost). After that, who knows? The potential for the chips to replace credit cards and cash is huge, and will tempt financial institutions in turn to tempt their customers to 'try out' the chip with no obligation to carry it permanently, and monetary rewards for those who persevere.
Supporters of the injectible microchip say it is just the logical extension of a technology that already allows the heavy monitoring of people through pagers, cellular phones, 'smart' cards, and cars fitted with Global Positioning System transponders. On the other hand, could it not be said that the advent of the chip implant is the final outrage which demonstrates the inherent unacceptability of its technological ancestors? We are, it seems, fast approaching a world that even George Orwell was not able to envisage.
Had the microchip implant been known in his day there can be no doubt it would have replaced the 'telescreen' in his dystopian novel 1984. The fact that the corporations and individuals promoting its use are not being bombarded daily with protests from millions of outraged citizens is itself cause for wonder. How, particularly in countries such as the USA and Britain in which civil liberties are so prized, is it possible for so much propaganda to reach the mass media with barely a hint of contrary opinion?
Prof. Warwick has gained enormous publicity, and is flooded with calls from journalists wanting to know how his little experiment is going. Until, however, a sufficient number of citizens make known their implacable opposition to the totalitarian trend of a technology which threatens to reduce most humans to the status of cattle, the likes of Prof. Warwick will go about their evil work unperturbed.
JWR contributor Dr. David S. Oderberg is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Reading, England, and a freelance journalist.
From SCAN THIS NEWS 10/12/98
by Maurice Chittenden and David Lloyd
THIS is the bleep that says: "Rescue me." A microchip under the skin that can help to locate hostages is being marketed to combat one of the world's biggest growth industries - there were a record 1,407 abductions for ransom worldwide last year, up 60% since 1990.
The victim's "little helper" uses natural body energy with James Bond-style technology devised by scientists working for Israeli intelligence.
Space satellites will follow the bleep to detect a victim's movements or hiding place. The information will then be relayed to a control centre to be used for a rescue operation.
The device has come too late for three British engineers and a New Zealand colleague abducted in Chechnya last weekend. But film stars and the children of millionaires are among 45 people, including several Britons, who have been approached and fitted with the chips in secret tests during the past three months. The chips, costing £5,000 a time, are being launched in Milan this week.
However, kidnap experts are divided on whether the Sky-Eye chip is just another fashion accessory for the painfully rich or a valuable weapon in the fight against extortion.
The Gen-Etics company, which makes the chip, says it is being targeted at people in the public eye such as Leonardo DiCaprio, the Titanic star whose family originates from an area of southern Italy steeped in kidnapping, and companies that send employees to potentially dangerous places such as Colombia, Mexico and Chechnya. The company developed the chip for commercial use after it was invented by Mossad, the Israeli secret service, and used by agents on special missions.
Nicholas Ventura, in charge of marketing the device, said: "Film stars like DiCaprio and Robert De Niro are the kind of personalities this is aimed at - basically millionaires, VIPs and captains of industry who for family or work reasons go to places where kidnap gangs are active."
He refused to identify any clients. Customers on his doorstep could include the Duchess of York, who regularly visits the castle of Count Gaddo della Gherardesca, her Tuscan boyfriend; Sting, the rock star, who has a villa in Tuscany; and Greta Scacchi, the Anglo-Italian actress born in Milan.
The 43 Europeans and two Americans who have so far adopted the chip had surgery under a light anaesthetic. Gen-Etics claims the surgery is intended to daze the patient and prevent him or her remembering exactly where the incision was made, so he cannot reveal the chip's location to his abductors even under torture.
Every chip is made of synthetic and organic fibres and measures 4mm by 4mm (.16 inch sq.). It does not need a battery and runs instead on four milliamperes of neurophysiological energy.
Only a small scar is visible and the chip escapes detection by x-rays. It is inserted under the skin, but not on areas that can be amputated, including the hands, nose and ears.
Posting an earlobe to the family of a victim is a favourite technique for kidnap gangs. John Paul Getty III, grandson of the oil billionaire and one of 700 people kidnapped in Italy in the past 30 years, suffered such a fate in 1973.
The whereabouts of the carrier are followed by six satellites through the global positioning system, which has a 150-metre margin of error and has previously been used to track the movements of stolen luxury cars. The absence of a signal suggests that the victim has been killed because the body no longer supplies the energy to make the chip function.
The Sky-Eye is seen as an alternative to surrounding the children of the rich and famous with teams of burly bodyguards. Donatella Versace, sister of the murdered Italian fashion designer, appears to be well aware of the risks. Her two children, Allegra - who inherited the larger part of her uncle Gianni's fortune - and Daniel, are watched over by a phalanx of security men whenever they step out of the family's 18th-century palazzo in Milan.
Others are more cynical about the microchip, however. Robert Davies, a special risks underwriter for Hiscox, an insurance group that holds 5,000 kidnap policies, said it might work in Britain or the United States but could prove hazardous in less developed countries, where victims were likely to be shot in rescue attempts and the police were sometimes in league with the kidnappers.
"We are aware that kidnap gangs in Mexico, the most sophisticated in the world, are searching victims for scars that might hide such devices. There is also the effect on morale if a victim thinks he will be quickly rescued, but his family decides that would be a stupid thing to attempt," he said. Terry Waite, who was a hostage in Beirut for 5 1/2 years, said: "It is very dangerous because once kidnappers get to know about these things they will skin you alive to find them. There were rumors when I was kidnapped that I had been planted with locator devices.
"I was given rigorous searches, my clothes were changed and I even had my teeth checked."
Source: London Telegraph
UK News Electronic Telegraph Saturday 19 September 1998 Issue 1212
By David Brown, Agriculture Editor
BRITAIN'S stringent anti-rabies quarantine laws are to be swept aside in favour of electronic scanners and animal passports under plans to be published by the Government next week.
A scheme relying on microchip implants that can be electronically monitored, together with documentary proof that animals have been immunised against rabies and other diseases, are among a raft of proposals that could mean the demise of mandatory six-months quarantine for all imported animals.