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


MEXICAN GOVERNMENT PROMOTES MYTH OF RFID SECURITY
Chip implants 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:
http://www.spychips.com and http://www.nocards.org

 

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2003-2007 Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre. All Rights Reserved.