Does this sound too futuristic? Well, it shouldn t, not if the folks at Applied Digital Solutions, a Palm Beach, FL, company, have anything to say about it. Applied Digital Solutions and Digital Angel Corp. recently announced that VeriChip , the world's first implantable radio frequency identification device (RFID) for humans, has been granted approval by the FDA for medical applications in the United States.
To be specific, the VeriChip Health Information Microtransponder System consists of an implantable RFID microtransponder, an inserter, a proprietary hand-held scanner, and a secure database with the patient's pertinent medical information. At about the size of a grain of rice 12 mm by 2.1 mm the RFID is inserted just under the skin in the triceps area between the elbow and shoulder of the right arm. The procedure takes only a few minutes and is performed under local anesthetic. Anyone wishing to have their own personal identification device can contact VeriChip Corp., a subsidiary of Applied Digital, for details on the Get Chipped• special offer.
The VeriChip is unpowered and only transmits its unique 16-digit identification number when interrogated by the special scanner. The encrypted number is transmitted via the Internet to the secure database. Previously stored medical information on the patient then is relayed to authorized onsite medical professionals.
Implantable device technology has been around for quite some time. Devices for livestock identification typically are implanted at birth and provide tracking data throughout the animal's lifetime. Similarly, identification devices help owners find lost pets. According to the company, more than 1 million pets in the United States and greater than 10 million in Europe are protected by implantable identification devices.
Personal identification devices potentially can be used for a plethora of applications from medical to security to financial; in fact, the list is practically endless. For security purposes, the devices can be used to control access to sensitive areas, such as government buildings, military installations, and national research labs. Requiring authorized personnel to be chipped with VeriChip might allow better control of air, ship, and ground transportation security.
On the financial side, VeriChip holds the promise, according to the company, of virtually eliminating personal identity theft by denying unauthorized access to banking and credit card accounts. Likewise, thefts at bank ATMs would be drastically reduced.
But all of this protection comes at a price, not so much in dollars but in terms of invasion of privacy. Cramming more information in the VeriChip other than a 16-digit number certainly is not out of the question. The big question is how to protect that data from being accessed and used by unscrupulous individuals.
Anyone able to duplicate the operation of the special scanner potentially would have access to all kinds of personal and financial data. Talented thieves with sophisticated scanners could possibly access your chip data and whatever information is stored on the secure server just by walking past you on the street.
Having only touched the surface of this controversial issue, please let me know your thoughts. Are you a proponent of this technology or not? Just send an e-mail to my attention.