Vital Signs

Implanted IDs: Click Here!

Applied Digital Solutions (ADS) announced in March that it had filed for FDA approval of its tiny ID implant, VeriChip, and the Florida-based company performed its first commercial implant on three local children on May 10, promising “easy access of medical rec-ords.”

While both announcements were greeted with surprise, ADS had already revealed that it had received the patent rights for VeriChip’s prototype, Digital Angel—a miniature digital transceiver designed for implantation in the human body and powered electro-mechanically through muscle movement.  Unlike other experimental implants created by competitors, ADS’s was intended not merely to identify but to send and receive data and, eventually, to be able to track the implantee using Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology.  For now, the sales hooks are “medical emergencies” and “identifying missing persons,” including soldiers in the field and corpses—particularly effective, given the nation’s post-September 11 mentality.

There have been many indications that “technology creep” would someday revolutionize our conceptions of what is personal and private for years, but legislators, in this information-based society, have been slow to sense the dangers of microchipping people.

Most of us probably can tick off a long list of programs that started out as voluntary, temporary,...

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