About this iReport
  • Not verified by CNN

  • Click to view venusstarlit's profile
    Posted June 3, 2010 by

    More from venusstarlit

    rfid chips part2





    There's not a  lot of middle ground on the subject of implanting electronic  identification chips in humans.
    Advocates of technologies like radio  frequency identification tags say their potentially life-saving benefits  far outweigh any Orwellian concerns about privacy. RFID tags sewn into  clothing or even embedded under people's skin could curb identity theft,  help identify disaster victims and improve medical care, they say.
    Critics,  however, say such technologies would make it easier for government  agencies to track a person's every movement and allow widespread  invasion of privacy. Abuse could take countless other forms, including  corporations surreptitiously identifying shoppers for relentless sales  pitches. Critics also speculate about a day when people's possessions  will be tagged--allowing nosy subway riders with the right technology to  examine the contents of nearby purses and backpacks.
    "Invasion of  privacy is going to be impossible to avoid," said Katherine Albrecht,  the founder and director of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy  Invasion and Numbering, or CASPIAN, a watchdog group created to monitor  the use of data collected in the so-called loyalty programs used  increasingly by supermarkets. Albrecht worries about a day when "every  physical item is registered to its owner."
    The overriding idea behind  tagging people with chips--whether through implants or wearable devices  such as bracelets--is to improve identification and, consequently,  tighten access to restricted information or physical areas.
    But on  top of civil liberties and other policy issues, such technologies face  visceral objections from many people who frown on the idea of being  implanted with tags that can track them like migrating tuna. Complaints  have led several companies to abandon plans to use RFID technologies in  products, much less in human bodies.
    The concept of implanting chips  for tracking purposes was introduced to the general public more than a  decade ago, when pet owners began using them to keep tabs on dogs and  cats. The notion of embedding RFID tags in the human body, though,  remained largely theoretical until the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks,  when a technology executive saw firefighters writing their badge numbers  on their arms so that they could be identified in case they became  disfigured or trapped.
    Richard Seelig, vice president of medical  applications at security specialist Applied Digital Solutions, inserted a  tracking tag in his own arm and told the company's CEO that it worked. A  new product, the VeriChip, was born.
    Applied Digital formed a  division named after the chip and says it has sold about 7,000 of the  electronic tags. An estimated 1,000 have been inserted in humans, mostly  outside the United States, with no harmful physical side effects  reported from the subcutaneous implants, the company said.
    "It is  used instead of other biometric applications," such as fingerprints,  said Angela Fulcher, vice president of marketing at VeriChip, which is  based in Palm Beach, Fla. The basic technology comes from Digital Angel,  a sister company under the Applied corporate umbrella that has sold  thousands of tags for identifying pets and other animals.
    VeriChip  makes 11-millimeter RFID tags that are implanted in the fatty tissue  below the right tricep. When near a scanner, the chip is activated and  emits an ID number. When a person's tag number matches an ID in a  database, the person is allowed to enter a secured room or complete a  financial transaction.
    So far, enhancing physical  security--controlling access to buildings or other areas--remains the  most common application. RFID chips cannot track someone in real time  the way the Global Positioning System does, but they can provide  information such as whether a particular individual has gone through a  door.
    Latin American customers are looking at both technologies for  security purposes, which partly explains why some of VeriChip's early  clients included Mexico's attorney general, as well as a Mexican agency  trying to curb the country's kidnapping epidemic, and commercial  distributors in Venezuela and Colombia.
    The value of these  technologies was underscored recently by a CNET News.com reader who  wrote from Puerto Rico to inquire about their development. In her  e-mail, Frances Pabon said she hopes that RFID or GPS technologies can  be used for her husband, who must travel through neighborhoods in San  Juan that are infested with crack dealers.
    "I think safeguarding his  safety doesn't necessarily violate his privacy," she wrote. "And if I am  made to choose between keeping him safe versus keeping him private, I'd  rather keep him safe and then change private data such as credit cards,  bank accounts, etc., after."
    Safety has been a primary driver in  some U.S. applications as well. An Arizona company called Technology  Systems International, for example, says it has improved security in  prisons with an RFID-like system for inmates and guards. The company's  products came out in 2001 and are based on technology licensed from  Motorola, which created it for the U.S. military to find gear lost in  battle.
    TSI's wristbands for inmates transmit signals every two  seconds to a battery of antennas mounted in the prison facility. By  examining the time the signal is received by each antenna, a computer  can determine the exact location of each prisoner at any given time and  can reconstruct prisoners' movements later, if necessary to investigate  their actions.
    Since the technology was installed at participating  prisons, violence is down up to 60 percent in some facilities, said TSI  President Greg Oester, who says the wristbands are designed for the  "uncooperative user." TSI, a division of security company Alanco  Technologies, has installed the system in four prisons and will add a  fifth soon.
    "Inmates know they are being monitored and know they will  get caught. The word spreads very quickly," Oester said. "It increases  the safety in facilities."
    In a California prison that uses the TSI  technology, an inmate confessed to stabbing another prisoner 20 minutes  after authorities showed him data from his radio transmitter that placed  him in the victim's cell at the time of the stabbing, Oester said. A  women's prison in the state has begun a pilot program to test whether  the technology prevents sexual assaults.
    Conversely, at an Illinois  prison, Oester said, convicts have pointed to this sort of data as a way  to prove that they weren't involved in prison incidents. Guards have  similar tags, embedded in pagers rather than wristbands, which set off  an alarm if they are removed or tampered with.
    Tagging hospital  patients...and alumni? Beyond law enforcement, the technology is drawing  interest from a variety of industries that have pressing security  needs. Companies that operate highly sensitive facilities, such as  nuclear power plants, are looking at TSI's technology.
    Hospitals in  Europe and the United States are also experimenting with inserting tags  in ID bracelets. The Jacobi Medical Center in New York, along with  Siemens Business Services, has launched a pilot program that will outfit  more than 200 patients with radio bracelets.
    This technology is  designed to enable various health care professionals to obtain patient  information such as X-rays and medical histories from a database  securely and more quickly. The system will also use antennas to track  individuals as they walk about the hospital and send alerts if a patient  begins to collapse. Other pilot systems are being tested specifically  to monitor patients with Alzheimer's disease.
    As such tagging systems  become more widely known, some industries that hadn't been expected to  use the technology are considering innovative applications of it. A  South Carolina firearms maker, FN Manufacturing, is evaluating the  technology for use in "smart guns" equipped with grip sensors that would  allow only their owners to use them.
    In a less violent but practical  application, Ray Hogan of Princeton University's alumni association has  contemplated distributing RFID bracelets among meeting attendees to  track attendance at events that have multiple components. The technology  would let organizers see which programs attendees find most valuable by  virtue of how long they stay. Like others, however, Hogan says privacy  issues may well keep the idea from becoming a reality.
    When such  technologies are employed, they can be even more effective if implanted  in the body. Supporters and critics both say RFID tags under the skin  would invariably increase the volume and quality of personal data, with  the benefit of, at the very least, reducing the margin of error for  misidentification in the event of a disaster.
    The problem, detractors  say, is that the vast quantities of accumulated data would be  vulnerable to theft and abuse. They cite historical practices of retail  establishments, which for years have listened in on customer  conversations and viewed consumer behavior on remote cameras to improve  sales. Supermarkets routinely collect data about individual shoppers'  purchases and buying habits through "loyalty programs," along with  credit card and electronic banking transactions.
    Even random  individuals could spy on those with tags, because today's RFID  technologies do not yet have the processing power to encrypt  information. "I don't see how you can get enough power into those  things" to encrypt data, said Whitfield Diffie, a fellow and security  expert at Sun Microsystems.
    Some consumers have described scenarios  in which a hacker could extract a person's identification number with an  RFID reader, create a chip with the same number and then impersonate  them. But even if such chip forgery were possible, alerts would probably  be sounded as soon as a system detected that the same person was in two  different places at once.
    Still, implanting RFID chips could vastly  increase the potential for police surveillance of ordinary citizens.  Conceivably, every wall socket could become an RFID reader that feeds  into a government database.
    Critics contend that if tagging gets out  of control, the day will eventually come when the cops will be able to  trace junk thrown in a public trash can back to the person who tossed  it.
    "Do you want the people in power to have that much power?"  Albrecht asked rhetorically. "The infrastructure obstacle has been  overcome. It is called electricity and the Internet



    As if the various other permutations  and teensyness of RFID weren't wild enough, here comes Hitachi with its new "powder"  0.05mm x 0.05mm RFID chips. The new chips are 64 times smaller than the  previous record holder, the 0.4mm x 0.4mm mu-chips, and nine times  smaller than Hitachi's  last year prototype, and yet still make room for a 128-bit ROM that  can store a unique 38-digit ID number. The main application is likely  to be anti-counterfit, but since the previous mu-chips could be embedded  into paper quite easily enough, we're fairly certain Hitachi is just  doing this for bragging rights and potential pepper shaker mixups.  Hitachi should have these on the market in two or three years.

    WISCONSIN BANS FORCED HUMAN RFID CHIPPING Groundbreaking Law  Spotlights Opposition to VeriChip
    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.


    Brits Mull Chipping Sex Offenders

    By Julia Scheeres Also by  this reporter02:00 AM Nov, 19, 2002
    The British government  acknowledged Monday that it would consider using implanted ID chips to  track sex offenders, raising the specter of forced chipping.
    The news  was first reported on Sunday by the The Observer. The paper reprinted  portions of a letter from Hilary Benn,  the minister responsible for supervising sex offender programs, to  Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay.
    Benn's letter said the British government  was interested in the future potential of implants to track offenders'  movements by satellite and measure their heart rate and blood pressure  "to predict criminal activity."
    Home Office spokesman Matt Brook on  Monday confirmed both the existence of the letter as well as its  content.
    "Yes, we're looking at tagging as an option," said Brook.  "All the letter is saying is that something like that would be worthy of  consideration. Anything that will help us stop these people from  re-offending would be welcome."
    While not yet a reality, implants  that can remotely check bodily functions and location are just around  the corner: Microchips are being developed for a variety of health functions,  and a Florida company is planning to develop a prototype of an implanted GPS device by the end of the  year.
    When the Food and Drug  Administration green-lighted the use of ID chips in humans last  month, civil liberties advocates worried that people could be forced to  get chipped as a condition of employment or parole. News that the  British government may implant sex offenders in the future fanned those  fears.
    "At a certain point you cross the line from privacy concern to  human rights violation, and I think we're entering that territory,"  said Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic  Privacy Information Center.
    Even a nonprofit organization  created to help victims of sexual assault expressed ambivalence about  the use of the technology.
    "Is monitoring appropriate? Certainly. But  I don't know that this level of monitoring is appropriate," said Jamie  Zuieback, spokeswoman for the Rape,  Abuse & Incest National Network. "There are questions of  fairness and there are questions of efficacy that need to be answered."
    Home  Office spokesman Brook said any plans to chip offenders would have to  pass muster with the British Parliament. The debate, he said, is far  from over.
    "Clearly a careful balance has to be struck between  protecting the community and ensuring that sex offenders don't  re-offend," said Brook. "It's a very difficult area."

    VeriChip         changes it's name to Xmark

    Add your Story Add your Story