WISCONSIN BANS FORCED HUMAN RFID CHIPPING
Civil libertarians cheered yesterday upon news that Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed a law making it a crime to require an individual to be implanted with a microchip. Activists and authors Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre joined the celebration, predicting this move will spell trouble for the VeriChip Corporation, maker of the VeriChip human microchip implant.
The VeriChip is a glass encapsulated Radio Frequency Identification tag that is injected into the flesh to uniquely number and identify people. The tag can be read silently and invisibly by radio waves from up to a foot or more away, right through clothing. The highly controversial device is also being marketed as a way to access secure areas, link to medical records, and serve as a payment device when associated with a credit card.
"We're not even aware of anyone attempting to forcibly implant microchips into people," says Albrecht. "That lawmakers felt this legislation was necessary indicates a growing concern that the company's product could pose a serious threat to the public down the road."
Although the company emphasizes that its chip is strictly voluntary, recent statements suggest this could easily change. VeriChip Chairman of the Board Scott Silverman has been promoting the VeriChip as a partial solution to immigration concerns, proposing it as a way to register guest workers, verify their identities as they cross the border, and "be used for enforcement purposes at the employer level." He told interviewers on the Fox News Channel that the company has "talked to many people in Washington about using it."
The company has also confirmed it has been in talks with the Pentagon about replacing military dog tags with VeriChip implants.
Wisconsin's anti-human-chipping law comes at a particularly bad time for VeriChip Corporation because it has an initial public offering of its stock in the works, McIntyre observes. "The company has been losing millions of dollars and has been counting on public acceptance to stem its losses and prove its future. The people have spoken. They don't want RFID devices in their flesh, and we expect other states will join Wisconsin in prohibiting forced chipping."
Albrecht and McIntyre have dogged the VeriChip Corporation, revealing medical and security flaws in its human chip and warning about its serious privacy and civil liberties downsides in their book "Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID."
Wisconsin's new law was introduced as Assembly Bill 290 by Representative Marlin D. Schneider (D) and was passed unanimously by both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature this spring. The law makes it illegal to require an individual to have a microchip implant and subjects a violator to a fine of up to $10,000 per day.
ABOUT THE BOOK
"Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track your Every Move with RFID" (Nelson Current) was released in October 2005. Already in its fifth printing, "Spychips" is the winner of the 2006 Lysander Spooner Award for Advancing the Literature of Liberty and has received wide critical acclaim. Authored by Harvard doctoral researcher Katherine Albrecht and former bank examiner Liz McIntyre, the book is meticulously researched, drawing on patent documents, corporate source materials, conference proceedings, and firsthand interviews to paint a convincing and frightening picture of the threat posed by RFID.
Despite its hundreds of footnotes and academic-level accuracy, the book remains lively and readable according to critics, who have called it a "techno-thriller" and "a masterpiece of technocriticism."
The Spanish-language version of the book, titled "Chips Espias," will be available in bookstores in the Americas and Spain starting June 6, 2006.
The Spychips website is a project of CASPIAN, Consumers
Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering.
© 2003-2007 Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre. All Rights Reserved.