September 8, 2007

French Bulldog is Catalyst for Investigation of Microchip-Cancer Connection

French Bulldog Léon
(Léon's photograph has been reproduced with the permission of the owner)

Could a microchip implant like the VeriChip cause cancer? A French Bulldog named Léon was the catalyst for new questions about the safety of RFID implants.

One year ago, Léon's owner contacted me with startling news. She believed that her dog's cancerous tumor and his untimely death might have been caused by a microchip implant.

This was not just idle talk by a grieving dog owner grasping at straws to figure out why she had been robbed of her constant companion. This was a gutsy lady who refused to allow the vet to simply cremate the evidence.

This lady prefers to be known only by her first name of "Jeanne," so the Associated Press couldn't credit her properly as the original source for some of the explosive information in its article "Chip Implants Linked to Animal Tumors," but I have the leeway in this forum to share the behind-the-scenes story.

Jeanne spent a small fortune trying to cure her ailing French bulldog, Léon, after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2004. When medical interventions failed and Léon passed away, she decided to hunt for the reason the fatal tumor in his body was attached to the glass-encapsulated microchip that had been injected into his neck for identification purposes.

Jeanne located a team of researchers in Italy who agreed to test tissue samples from a biopsy of Léon's tumor to determine if the microchip was implicated in his aggressive cancer. They documented their findings in a 2006 paper entitled, “Fibrosarcoma with Typical Features of Postinjection Sarcoma at Site of Microchip Implant in a Dog: Histologic and Immunohistochemical Study.” The full text is available online at:

Since Léon's suspicious cancer was not enough evidence to prove microchip implants were a threat, Jeanne decided to search for other proof of a link. She unearthed scholarly animal studies documenting a possible chip-cancer link and posted several of these at the website that she formed as a tribute to Léon:

Jeanne informed us of this research and even faxed us copies of these studies as they were difficult to obtain. Fortunately, my Spychips co-author Dr. Katherine Albrecht had access to the Harvard library and was able to take Jeanne's work further, analyzing additional studies that seemed to support a cancer-microchip link in animals.

Sometime later, AP Reporter Todd Lewan entered the picture, eager for an exclusive. He used his press credentials to gain further information, tie up the story with a perfect, documented bow, and broadcast it to media outlets around the world. He and Katherine tirelessly pursued the truth that you can now find published in the explosive AP story.

I promised Jeanne that Katherine and I would share the whole story, and that Léon would be remembered for his contribution. Here's to you, Jeanne and Léon! I'm so sorry it took tragedy for this information to be brought to light. I applaud your tenacity, bravery, and amazing research skills.

- Liz McIntyre

Posted by liz at 2:08 PM | Comments (13)

July 22, 2007

Associated Press article spotlights VeriChip controversy

Hello to CASPIAN members and friends:

The VeriChip battle is heating up! The Associated Press published a feature article today on the human implant controversy that is appearing on newsstands across America:

Chips: High tech aids or tracking tools?
By Todd Lewan, AP National Writer
July 22, 2007

The article is highlighted on the Drudge Report and is printed in over 200 newspapers and news outlets around the country, including USA Today, Business Week, Forbes, Fox News, and the Washington Post.

Major papers in Houston, Seattle, Denver, San Jose, Charlotte, Chicago, Kansas City, Miami, and more have picked up the story. It has even reached the UK Guardian newspaper and outlets in Canada and Australia. For a partial list, see:

The article features a full color photo of our anti-chipping protest in West Palm Beach, Florida and a link to our new website. It also features quotes by me and my Spychips co-author Liz McIntyre, and mentions our book, "Spychips: How major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID."

I spoke with Todd Lewan, the AP reporter who wrote the story, and told him everything we know about the downsides of the VeriChip Corporation and its dangerous, Big Brother plans to chip the public. (Liz and I have been posting these stories on our website for several years at . Mr. Lewan independently verified many of our concerns and discussed them in the article.

Back in May after our West Palm Beach protest, I asked you all to be patient, as the truth about the VeriChip would soon be coming out. Now our efforts to alert the public are beginning to bear fruit.

Sit tight. This is just the start of the backlash.

In freedom,
Katherine Albrecht, Ed.D.

Dr. Katherine Albrecht
Founder and Director, CASPIAN Consumer Privacy

Host of "Uncovering the Truth"
We the People Radio Network, M-F 10AM-12PM EST

Co-author of "SPYCHIPS: How Major Corporations and Government
Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID

Human Chipping:
RFID Tagging:
Shopper Cards:
Boycott Gillette:
Boycott Tesco:
Bio online at:

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 9:21 AM | Comments (0)

May 31, 2007

Oklahoma lawmakers seek to prevent microchipping, not promote it


Interesting legislative goings on in Oklahoma around human chipping.

Oklahoma State Sen. Brian Crain and Rep. Sue Tibbs are the authors of a bill opposing the microchipping of people, SB 47. It passed out of the state Senate in March and has been making its way through committee. Creepily, it was apparently amended to allow for the microchipping of criminals, but calmer heads are prevailing and that provision has now been stricken (see article below). One interesting human interest note: Rep. Tibbs is a 73 year-old grandmother.

While I am pleased to see these legislative efforts (Liz and I submitted testimony in favor of the bill), we need to let lawmakers nationwide know about our Bodily Integrity Act. It covers all the bases and is urgently needed before society becomes numb to the violation these chips represent.

Our model bill is just one page long and written in plain English.

-Katherine Albrecht

House rejects microchip implants for violent criminals
By Tim Talley Associated Press Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Legislation that would authorize microchip implants in people convicted of violent crimes was sent back to a committee for more work Wednesday after state House members questioned whether the proposal would violate constitutional civil liberties.

The measure, approved by the Senate, authorizes microchip implants for persons convicted of one or more of 19 violent offenses who have to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence, including murder, rape and some forms of robbery and burglary, while prohibiting government from requiring microchips implants in anyone else.

The tiny electronic implants are commonly used to keep track of pets and livestock, but several House members questioned whether their forced use in people would be unconstitutionally invasive.

"We are going down that slippery slope," said Rep. Ed Cannaday, D-Porum.

Lawmakers never voted on the measure. During debate, its author, Rep. Sue Tibbs, R-Tulsa, asked that it be sent back to a joint House-Senate conference committee where the exception for violent offenders was inserted.

Cannaday and others said the measure may violate the Fourth, Fifth And Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, the Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment and the Fourteenth Amendment contains the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses.

"I see it as invasive," Cannaday said. He said many sex offenders and prisoners convicted of other crimes are already required to wear wrist or ankle bracelets when they are released from prison so their movements can be monitored by satellite tracking devices.


Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 8:36 AM | Comments (1)

March 19, 2007

Tommy Thompson Leaves Board of VeriChip Corporation


Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson has left the board of VeriChip Corporation, marketer of glass encapsulated RFID tags for humans. The company quietly made the disclosure in its mandatory Form 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission a few days ago:

"Effective March 8, 2007, Tommy G. Thompson, an independent member of the Board of Directors of VeriChip Corporation (the “Company”), submitted a letter to the Company expressing his interest in taking a leave of absence from the Board of Directors in order to devote his full time and efforts to running for President of the United States. As a leave of absence would have left the Company without a full board to address matters of corporate governance, Mr. Thompson resigned as a Director effective as of that date."


Did Thompson really just want a leave of absence? Did VeriChip cut Thompson loose because he has wisely avoided getting chipped despite a promise to do so nearly two years ago? The carefully crafted statement for public consumption begs many questions.

What do you think?

- Liz McIntyre

Posted by liz at 3:51 PM | Comments (5)

February 15, 2007

RFID Journal Calls VeriChip Implant "unnecessary and a little creepy"

verichip and rice1.jpg

The RFID brethren have kicked into self preservation mode because VeriChip Corporation's embarassing IPO launch is making them look bad. Shares of the human ID implant company began trading as "CHIP" on the NASDAQ last Friday at the low end of the expected range and went downhill from there as investors examined the company's tenuous business model.

RFID Journal is doing its best to distance the RFID industry from the stock fiasco, even calling VeriChip's human implant "unnecessary and a little creepy."

In his commentary titled "VeriChip IPO Focuses Attention on Human Implants," RFID Journal Editor Mark Roberti distinguishes "mainstream" RFID companies from the tainted human chipper by drawing the line where RFID devices are inserted into flesh. He doesn't take VeriChip to task for identifying and monitoring people through RFID. Rather, he objects to the visceral nature of the implanted product and the waves of squeamishness it evokes.

"[N]ot everyone likes the idea of getting implanted. It's the stuff of TV dramas, and it scares people, " says Roberti. "My view is that a pendant with an RFID transponder in it could work just as well."

Once he makes the distinction (RFID neckware is cool, implanted chips aren't), Roberti laments, "VeriChip's initial public offering... has had a chilling effect on some people's attitude toward RFID."

He goes on to criticize the media for recent negative press that reflects badly on the spychip industry overall. Headlines like "Implantable RFID May Be Easy, But That Doesn't Mean It's Ethical," "'Spychip' Corporation Hides Implant Risks in Stock Offering," and "RFID Chips Getting Under Few People's Skin" obviously haven't been sitting well with the Journal's advertisers.

"I don't know if VeriChip is a good or a bad investment. I don't know if getting a chip under your skin is a good or bad idea," Roberti expounds, wagging his pen in defense of his corporate sponsors. "But I do know that the undue media attention focused on this one company offering a niche application of RFID is having a negative impact on the public perception of RFID. That's unfortunate, because so few people, so far, have chosen to 'get chipped.'"

For more of Roberti's take on this IPO injustice, see:

- Liz McIntyre

Posted by liz at 11:45 PM | Comments (1)

October 18, 2006

Getting chipped in Sin City


News 3 Las Vegas

This week in Las Vegas, supposedly "dozens of people" were implanted with VeriChip microchips at an osteopathic medical convention.

That's already weird, since osteopaths seem like the least likely people to want to turn human beings into numbered cyborgs. But several other things made this news story even weirder. First, there was the obvious enthusiasm shown by Las Vegas News 3 reporters Steve Crupi and Nina Radetich around the chipping.

The segment opens with Nina gushing:

"This afternoon, News 3's Steve Crupi watched several people get the computer chips inserted into their arms, which I'm sure was a blast!"

A blast? I'm guessing most people (even those who like VeriChip) instinctively flinch when they see huge needles piercing human flesh. Watching people get chipped sounds like about as much fun as watching spleen surgery.

But it gets worse. The people interviewed make wildly inaccurate statements that go uncorrected in the news story. Here's an example:

News 3 Reporter Steve Crupi: "Does it freak you out at all that you have this microchip in your body now?"

Newly chipped osteopathic physician Matthew Duke: "No, not at all... According to the manufacturer it has no problems with MRI scans or any problems along those lines. And if I want to take it out, it can be easily removed."

But the MRI incompatibility issue was clearly identified by the FDA as a problem. And the chips are anything but easy to remove.

By the way, chipped doctor Matthew Duke (who has no worries about the microchip implant) was the subject of an investigation by his state medical licensing board earlier this year. They issued him a "Letter of Concern" in July over an allegation of improper patient care. Sounds like he may be as careless about his patients as he is about his own wellbeing -- and his facts.

In another case of misleading and inaccurate information, VeriChip spokesman Marc Poulshock says that the implant contains "no antenna" -- which is completely false.

His exact quote is: "That's complete sci-fi. It's a passive chip, there's no power source on it whatsoever There's no antenna on it. There's no GPS feature to it at all."

But that's nonsense. In his 2005 testimony to a government comittee, VeriChip VP Richard Seelig explained that one of the principal components of a VeriChip is its antenna:

"The functional components [of an implantable VeriChip transponder] are an RFID (Radiofrequency identification) integrated circuit, a capacitor, and an antenna."

Will VeriChip spokespeople ever learn how to get through an interview without this kind of factual error? (I've heard them say far worse.) But News 3 just laps it up and asks for more -- Steve Crupi even enthuses over the advantages of someday chipping the military.

This is not the first time Las Vegas station KVBC (a local NBC afilliate) has promoted human chipping. Earlier this year, the station commissioned a poll showing many Las Vegas residents in favor of chipping immigrants. And in 2005 they promoted a plan to implant microchips into one thousand Las Vegas pets.

If you're concerned about the biased coverage of VeriChip by this station, take a moment to drop the reporters and producers a line:

Nina Radetich:

Steve Crupi:
Judy Greene, News 3 Producer:

News 3 viewers deserve to get the whole story on human chipping, including the privacy downsides and medical risks.


Print story: "Microchips becoming the latest medical accessory"
KVBC News 3, October 17, 2006

The video clip can be found on KVBC's page above, or find it mirrored here:

- Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 12:24 PM | Comments (1)

October 17, 2006

Special Thanks to Cyber Line!

Research Engineer Kris (back left), Jessie Hail Storm (back right), and "Video Bob" Byron (front) pose for a picture after the show

Special thanks to Mick Williams' Cyber Line for inviting me out to the Dallas studio Saturday night. Nothing like live, in-person radio!

Golden throated Mick Williams was on leave so Video Bob took me and the crew out on the "flying sub" for a 1.5 hour cruise to the world of spychips, with an extended port call in VeriChip land. There we spent time carefully examining the the glass encapsulated tags for human flesh and comparing the injector device to things like razor sharp cocktail straws. (VeriChips are much larger than a grain of rice, and the guys are prepared to take evasive action after seeing these menacing tools.)


You can tune in to Mick Williams' Cyber Line from 9 PM to 12 AM Central Time Saturdays on the USA Radio Network or on line at We'll post a link to the October 14 show as soon as it hits the Cyber Line archives.

- Liz McIntyre

Posted by liz at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

October 3, 2006

PC Magazine: "It's Time to Chip Yourself"


Hard to believe, but PC Magazine is advocating that people chip themselves with RFID. Never mind that the chips in question are not to be used for human implantation, per the company's own warning.

The text and images speak for themselves.


-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 3:46 PM | Comments (3)

September 29, 2006

Feeling like you're being watched


If our email and phone calls are any indication, thousands of people around the country are convinced they have been implanted with some form of computer chip that can control them or listens to their thoughts.

Frankly, the jury is out for me on this whole issue. I believe that most people who "hear voices" or think someone is controlling them are suffering from schizophrenia (those are the hallmark symptoms), while other cases are not as easy to dismiss.

Regardless, the fact is I deal with RFID for commercial and inventory purposes, and I have never heard of an implant that could do the things people claim to be experiencing. The VeriChip implant, for instance, has no ability to control a person's thoughts, movements, etc. nor can it emit or transmit sounds. Plus, its read range is too short for someone to access it remotely. It can't even pinpoint a person's location from more than a few feet away. While it's true that Liz and I did run across some creepy patents for implants (detailed in Chapter 14 of Spychips) it is extremely unlikely these have been surreptitiously implanted into people involved in everyday disputes.

I will admit that I feel a pang of guilt when I dismiss these accounts. These people are either (a) in trouble and in need of psychiatric or emotional help, which I am not able to provide, or (b) experiencing a real phenomenon that is almost too horrible to contemplate. (OR they could be totally pulling our legs, which is another possibility.) But it is hard to look away when a fellow human appears so clearly to be suffering.

Assuming there is no such thing as a mind control implant, the accounts appearing in our in-boxes (and across the internet) raise disturbing questions about our society. Is our ubiquitous surveillance technology creating a surge in neurosis and mental illness? Research suggests that people do tend to get paranoid if they believe they have no way of knowing when they are being watched. Perhaps the rise in CCTV cameras, database profiling, and guerilla marketing is making us all a little nuts, and some people express it more overtly than others.

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 9:00 AM | Comments (7)

September 21, 2006

700 Club discusses human implants

I was interviewed for a CBN feature piece on the VeriChip human implant that aired this Monday on the 700 Club.

CBN's conclusion? "For most people, the time of human implants has not yet come."
We entirely agree.


Here's a condensed transcript of the segment:
Human Implants: Are We Ready?

You can view the video here:
CBN MediaCenter (It's the fourth story on the right)

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 3:43 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2006

Hilarious, Insightful Commentary on VeriChip's Push to Chip Foreigners


Evan Schuman's eWeek commentary Injecting RFID into the Immigration Mess, Literally is a must read for anyone following RFID--or anyone who simply needs a good belly laugh. See:,1895,1965110,00.asp

Here's his take on VeriChip's push to chip immigrants and guest workers:

"Opinion: The CEO of Applied Digital has gone on TV to suggest implanting his RFID chips into the arms of registered aliens to address immigration issues. Some ideas are so awful that words don't do them justice. "

Now go, read and enjoy! :-)

- Liz McIntyre

Posted by liz at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)

April 5, 2006

Kevin Warwick - One scary dude

kevin-warwick-cyborg-book.jpgRecently, a radio caller asked me if I had heard of a British researcher named Kevin Warwick. Though I had a vague notion of his work, after checking out his website I was sickened to the point of nausea.

Warwick's website states that "Kevin Warwick has taken the first steps...using himself as a guinea pig test subject receiving, by surgical operation, technological implants connected to his central nervous system...Overriding everything, at the expense of a normal life, is Kevin's all encompassing scientific quest and desire to be a Cyborg...part human part machine."

Warwick achieved a degree of dark notoriety back in 1998 when he became the first person to publicly announce he had had a microchip implanted in his flesh . I suppose you could call Warwick the anti-Adam of the brave new world of numbered, computerized humans.

Not content to stop there, Warwick then had himself surgically sliced open so that a "micro electrode array" could be inserted into his left arm. Now he can control an artificial hand with it. Next he plans to start embedding this garbage into his wife. (You couldn't make this stuff up, seriously.) Warwick's obvious love of the scalpel reminds me of those women who can't stop having plastic surgery (or maybe Michael Jackson.)

Warwick explains that he wants to shed his humanity altogether, and exchange it for power. (Hmm, that's a pretty ancient theme. Where have I heard that before?) Here is an exchange from his FAQ:

Q: In your article for "Wired", you said "I was born human, but it was an accident of fate". Do you think humanity must change itself because it has the power to?

A: Humanity can change itself but hopefully it will be an individual choice. Those who want to stay human can and those who want to evolve into something much more powerful with greater capabilities can. There is no way I want to stay a mere human.

If ever a soul needed prayer, this man does.
-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 5:57 AM | Comments (6)

March 30, 2006

The RF shielding shirt: An alternative to the tinfoil armband


Remember Sean Darks of CityWatcher, who had himself and his employees implanted with a VeriChip microchip device to access a "secure" data center? Remember how easy it is for hackers to skim the data from such chips and waltz right into the data center?

We joked that Mr. Darks and his employees -- along with the chipped nightclubbers in Spain -- might want to wear tinfoil armbands to keep their chips under wraps.

Well, it turns out someone went us one better. A company called The EMF Safety Superstore is selling an actual EMF shielding shirt complete with stainelss steel fibers woven right into the fabric. For just $89.95, Mr. Darks and his chipped pals can prevent unwanted access to their implants in comfortable, long-wearing style.

The EMF Safety Superstore also offers a variety of books, EMF detectors, RF shielding fabrics, and other products to help reduce unwanted EMF exposure.

[Note: This glossary of shielding terms may help non-engineers decipher the company's product descriptions.]

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 8:58 AM | Comments (1)

March 29, 2006

Be careful what you wish on your enemies


Think pedophiles and/or illegal aliens should be tagged with RFID?
I'd say that's a very bad idea.

Living in this surveillance and power-mad century, there's a wise Chinese proverb we should all keep in mind:

"The fire you kindle for your enemy often burns you more than it burns him."

While some people may, at first glance, think it's a good idea to tag the more dangerous and unsavory elements of society with a computer chip, it's actually a very bad idea in the long run. An industry that's built around tagging human beings against their will, whether they're illegal immigrants, criminals, or even mass murderers, will grow fat and powerful and bureaucratic from feeding at the trough of our tax dollars. An infrastructure of human tagging will take root, then, like all industries, it will want to see its market expand. (Think of the prison-industrial complex today -- or any powerful lobby.)

The human-implant-prison-industrial-complex will shmooze at political fundraisers and send lobbyists to urge politicians to expand the mandatory chipping program to other "markets." They'll urge the tagging of parolees and ex-felons. In fact, they'll say, society would be safer if all criminals -- rapists, drug dealers, prostitutes, thieves, and domestic abusers -- had a chip implant, along with gun law violators, marijuana smokers, drunk drivers, custody violators, tax cheats, habitual traffic violators, shoplifters, protesters who won't stay in their designated First Amendment zones, rowdy college revelers, and eventually the guy who didn't fill out the right paperwork to add a deck onto the back of his house.

Once the mandatory chipping lobby really gets going, they won't stop at criminals. For our own safety, they'll get the lawmakers to agree that we ought to chip nuclear plant workers, anyone handling biological or chemical agents, drivers transporting hazardous materials, anyone owning a gun, anyone working with children, anyone preparing food for public consumption, anyone...

Get the picture yet?

No matter who you are and how saintly a life you lead, I can almost promise you that if we light this fire to burn the pedophiles, somewhere down the road it will burn us and our children, too.

Big Brother has surrounded us with dried kindling and he's hankering for a match. Don't hand it to him.

- Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 5:41 AM | Comments (13)

March 9, 2006

Cloning the VeriChip

I am catching up on blog entries after two months of non-stop academic work, but I did manage to cram some fun into those months. One of the highlights was doing a TV interview with security researcher Jonathan Westhues.

Security Researcher Jonathan Westhues

Jonathan and I commuted to the television studio together. Then, while we were waiting to go on the air, he showed me his VeriChip cloning device -- a gadget smaller than a cell phone that he can wave in the general vicinity of a Verichip to grab its unique ID number. The device is shown below hooked up to a laptop, but he assures me it would work just as well hooked up to a couple of AA batteries -- with no cords and no laptop at all.

Katherine Albrecht and Jonathan Westhues discuss the VeriChip

So, here's the threat model, in a nutshell:

You think you're maximum-security cyborged out with your embedded microchip. You leave for lunch, secure in the knowledge that your VeriChip-enabled doorway will keep watch over your office. You know the system will refuse to respond to anyone but you, since it is set to recognize only the embedded microchip implant squidged into the muscle tissue of your upper arm.

Then along comes Mr. Weshues. He brushes past you on the elevator as you're leaving, muttering a sotto voce "Excuse me." (Little do you realize he has just cloned your VeriChip.) As you leave the elevator and head for for the bistro, Mr. Westhues heads straight for your office door. A wave of his VeriChip cloning device, and Voila - the door pops open and within seconds he's into your most imtimate files. He's done collecting his data before you've even finished your appetizer and ordered the entree.

VeriChip skimmer/cloner device hooked up to a laptop

Think a microchip implant is secure? Think again. It's about the least secure thing you could use to lock a door -- or anything else.

VeriChip skimmer/cloner closeup

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 6:58 PM | Comments (2)

Tommy Thompson gets his own copy of Spychips

Tommy Thompson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services and member of Board of Directors for the VeriChip corporation, gave a talk in New Hampshire last week. It was the perfect opportunity to have a quick chat with him, talk to him about the downsides of the VeriChip, and give him a copy of Spychips.

In chatting with the former secretary, I learned that he has not yet taken a chip implant (thank goodness). He dismissed the medical downsides of the VeriChip, and the fact that the data may not be available in case of an emergency, but I was surprised to learn that Mr. Thompson had not been informed of the security downsides of the VeriChip. (Somehow, it's not surprising that Verichip would keep that from him.)

"I'm new to this whole VeriChip thing," Mr. Thompson said, by way of explanation.

I'd love for Mr. Thompson to meet security researcher Jonathan Westhues (a good guy) who can seamlessly skim the data from an implanted chip and clone it literally in a matter of seconds. It's amazing that VeriChip has managed to keep this information from Mr. Thompson

Katherine Albrecht gives a copy of Spychips to Tommy Thompson

-Katherine Albrecht

Posted by Katherine Albrecht at 9:21 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2006

CityWatcher Implant Controversy

verichip with attrib.jpg

Our press release about CityWatcher implementing a new VeriChip-based security system has prompted some to "slam the [CityWatcher] site with irate emails," according to its Network Administrator Khary Williams. He says he's willing to have a dialogue about the system, but asks that those opposed show a bit more restraint.

"Posting raving emails about RFID doesn't really help anything. It makes me lose respect for your cause...," he said.

He's got a point.

Besides, the downsides of getting a VeriChip implant need no embellishment. The chip is not only a privacy and civil liberties nightmare, it is a poor option for security, and it's got serious problems as a medical device. That information alone should prompt CityWatcher and its employees to rethink the new system.

Please be kind. Thanks.

--Liz McIntyre

Posted by liz at 11:20 AM | Comments (10)

January 16, 2006

VeriChip or dog chip?

VeriChip Home Again chip rice and dime.jpg

There are two glass encapsulated RFID tags pictured above. One is intended for human flesh, the other for the scruff of your pet's neck. Which is which?

Answer: The chip pictured at the top is VeriChip's VeriMed chip that former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson would like to see implanted in all Americans. Directly below the human chip is the animal chip marketed by Schering-Plough under the "Home Again" brand name.

There's no visible difference between the chips. They look the same, and they're both manufactured by subsidiaries of VeriChip's parent company Applied Digital Solutions. The whitish substance on the end of the chips is an anti-migration coating called "biobond" that encourages tissue growth so the chip doesn't move around inside of the animial--human, feline, or canine.

There is a technical difference between the chips that you wouldn't see with the naked eye. The pet chip contains a 10-digit number while the human chip contains a 16-digit number. I asked VeriChip spokesman John Procter why the human version contained 16-digits. His reply: "flexibility." He said the company wanted to ensure there would be enough unique numbers available for all the people it envisions chipping. Yikes!

Note: The VeriChip corporation tries to ease consumer fears by referring to the chip as being "about the size of a grain of rice." The rice in the photo above is long-grain rice--the longest grain I could find in my pantry. As you can see, the VeriChip is much larger.

- Liz McIntyre

Posted by liz at 3:33 PM | Comments (17)

January 5, 2006

VeriChip Corp's new competition - DIY chippers

Thanks to Steve for sending me this link to fascinating videos about a tech type who decided to implant an RFID tag in his hand: Warning: the pictures and videos linked at the site are quite graphic, showing things like metal rods being shoved under the skin and the suturing of slits and puncture holes.

The implantee and webmaster, Mikey, says he knows of more than sixteen other "midnight engineers" who have similarly chipped themselves, and he provides links to images of a few of those procedures, too. It seems there is some fascination with self-implanting tags not designed for human chipping, like animal tags, to do things like automatically open doors or access computers.

If you watch the link to the longer video interview with Mikey, you'll hear him acknowledge some potential medical risks associated with the implants. He raises the specter of cancer, for example. But I didn't hear any mention of concerns like potential MRI incompatibility, chip migration, or electrical hazards-- issues the FDA raised in a letter it sent when approving the VeriChip human RFID implant as a medical device:

Also absent from the discussion are the privacy and civil liberties implications of RFID implants--issues free-spirted individualists should take into consideration before plunging tags into their flesh.

Liz McIntyre

Posted by liz at 3:13 PM | Comments (1)

December 15, 2005

AP: Tommy Thompson still plans to get chipped

Tommy Thompson still plans to "get chipped" with a VeriChip/VeriMed implantable RFID device, according to a new AP story. The former Secretary of Health and Human Services and four-time governor of Wisconsin made a commitment to undergoing the procedure back in July of 2005, but has never followed through.

When we contacted VeriChip Corporation spokesman John Procter about the delay, he said Thompson was "too busy." He added that Thompson "wants to see it [the VeriChip] in a real-world environment first," and that he was trying to arrange a tour for Thompson at Hackensack University Medical Center, the first hospital to implement the technology in its emergency room.

You can read the whole story in our recent press release.

We were hoping that Mr. Thompson was having a change of heart about the procedure, but he told AP that he will be eager to get chipped when the time is right. "In fact," he said, "I'll be in the front of the line."

The line?

Apparently, Mr. Thompson envisions a mass chipping at some point--something VeriChip has been planning.

When I asked Mr. Procter why the human version of the VeriChip implant contains a 16-digit number instead of a nine-digit number like the nearly identical pet chipping version, he told me the longer number would provide "flexibility." He said the extended numbering scheme would ensure more unique numbers would be available for the large number of people they were planning to implant at some point in the future.

I'm hoping VeriChip's "planning" is just wishful thinking. But considering the words of Senator Joseph Biden to Judge John Roberts during his Supreme Court Confirmation hearings on September 12, 2005, mass chipping plans could really be in the works. He said:

Can a microscopic tag be implanted in a person's body to track his every movement? There's actual discussion about that. You will rule on that -- mark my words -- before your tenure is over.

Liz McIntyre

Posted by liz at 9:45 AM | Comments (7)