Correction: This news release reports that 160 members of the Mexican
Attorney General's office were implanted with RFID devices. The actual
figure is 18 staff members, as CASPIAN
first reported in November 2004.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2004
PROMOTES MYTH OF RFID SECURITY
won't help crime wracked country, could make things worse
"Promoting implanted RFID devices as a security
measure is downright 'loco,'" says Katherine Albrecht, Founder and Director
of CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering).
"Advertising you've got a chip in your arm that opens important doors
is an invitation to kidnapping and mutilation."
That's Albrecht's response to the announcement by Mexican Attorney General
Rafael Macedo de la Concha that he and 160 other Mexican officials were
implanted with Verichip RFID devices. Reportedly, the chips allow the
implanted employees to access secure areas of the Attorney General's headquarters.
Albrecht surmises that Macedo de la Concha made the ill-advised revelation
in the wake of citizen protests against corruption in the crime wracked
country. "Selling the idea of RFID chipping as the solution to rampant
crime may be politically expedient, but it's dangerous misinformation.
He could encourage the Mexican people to seek the implants thinking RFID
is their ticket to security. RFID implants may offer the illusion of safety
from kidnappers, but in reality, they put their users at peril."
While there are promises of future implantable RFID devices that could
be globally trackable even in remote areas, the read range of the VeriChip
devices currently marketed is only a few inches, Albrecht explains. While
that small read range could be critical to someone desperate to access
a secure area, it would do little to locate a kidnap victim hidden miles
away from reader devices.
Ironically, rather than protecting their wearers from kidnapping, implantable
security devices may actually turn their wearers into tempting targets
for Mexico's notorious kidnapping gangs, especially as the chips migrate
to serve as payment devices, says Albrecht. "What could be more inviting
to kidnappers than a chip that offers access to secure areas or someone's
bank account? If criminals want to get ahold of a chip, they will naturally
try to nab a person wearing one."
The potentially gruesome implications of being probed for an implanted
chip are obvious, said Albrecht. She points out that at least one Mexican
kidnapping gang, a group nicknamed "el chip" for its interest in RFID
implants, is focused on the technology. According to recent reports, its
members have stripped kidnapping victims and demanded to be told where
they have chips implanted in their bodies.
Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering (CASPIAN)
is a grass-roots consumer group fighting retail surveillance schemes since
1999, and item-level RFID tagging since 2002. With thousands of members
in all 50 U.S. states and over 30 countries worldwide, CASPIAN seeks to
educate consumers about marketing strategies that invade their privacy
and to encourage privacy-conscious shopping habits across the retail spectrum.
For more information, see: