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Big brother or the mark of the beast?

Sierra Times | Jan 29 2005

If homeland security’s extreme precautions against terrorists haven’t gotten under your skin, look again. That’s just what they’re about to do — with VeriChips. A VeriChip is a rice-sized radio frequency identification microchip designed for tracking everything from products to people.
The company who created the chip — Applied Digital Solutions (ADS) — has announced that organizations in Brazil and Mexico have begun implanting the chips in children. And, the Department of Defense announced Oct. 23 that the government will begin using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) devices throughout the military and the U.S. for product inventory beginning in 2005. U.S. companies such as Wal-Mart also expect to be using RFID tags in 2005.

Depending on the public’s response, some American’s can expect to find VeriChips being offered in the U.S. as part of a child-identification program very soon. DoD claims RFID technology greatly improves the management of inventory by providing hands-off processing for everything from ordnance to office supplies.

The RFID tags will be applied to everything in the military except sand, gravel, liquids and similar items. Dod expects the system to not only speed up the inventory process, but make it more accurate and less susceptible to human error. Soldiers won’t be chipped — yet. At least not in the United States. However, the VeriChip is now being used to track people outside the United States.

ADS has a program called VeriKid.

Under the program children are implanted with a VeriChip — an RFID device, using a large needle which injects the device under the skin. The chip gives off a 125-kilohertz radio frequency signal which is transmitted to a nearby scanner or hand held wand. Scanners read the transmitted ID number and use it to identify the child through a database.

When a “chipped” child is abducted or missing, authorities place scanners in areas where the child might turn up — such as shopping malls, bus stations, airports and other areas. If the child goes by the scanner, the chip triggers the scanner and alerts authorities to the location.

Both Brazil and Mexico have implemented the program for “security purposes” and to track abducted and missing children. Mexico's National Foundation of Investigations of Robbed and Missing Children estimates that 133,000 children in Mexico have been kidnapped over the past five years.

According to VeriChip, Mexico launched their VeriKid program earlier this month to protect children from abduction. The company claims the chip will alert whether the child is unconscious, asleep, silenced or even dead.

Brazil has ordered 10 wall-mounted VeriGuard scanning devices to be used as part of their security system which will be launched in Brazil in mid-November.

That program, VeriChip claims, will be the first in which implantable chips will be used as part of a building access security system for adults.

VeriChip claims their original purpose for the program was medically focused — not for security. The company wanted to be able to identify people with specific medical needs, even if they were brought into a hospital unconscious. But VeriChip claims the chip goes far beyond medical uses the company claims.

Parolees could be chipped to make sure they do not break parole. Sex offenders could be tracked even if they did not register with the city as required by law.

It sounds good to some, but opponents to the chips claim that while the RFID’s provide some measure of security, they do so at the severe expense of personal privacy.

The chip can be linked to any kind of information — including financial, medical, criminal history or past convictions, drug use etc. and those with scanners or access to scanners would have access to that information as well.

Law enforcement wouldn’t even have to stop a person on the street to question them. A patrol car mounted scanner could relay the person’s criminal history faster than a cop could type in a license plate number. If that becomes the case, then the scanners might start popping up anywhere – highway overpasses, libraries, schools, or stores.

Those with access to the central database would be able to follow chipped people wherever they went. The chip would easily become an embedded leash and the refrain, “Home of the free,” would take on an entirely different meaning.

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