Microchip implant (human)
For use in animals, see Microchip implant (animal).
A humanmicrochip implant is any electronic device implanted subcutaneously (subdermally). Examples include an identifying integrated circuit RFID device encased in silicate glass which is implanted in the body of a human being. This type of subdermal implant usually contains a unique ID number that can be linked to information contained in an external database, such as personal identification, law enforcement, medical history, medications, allergies, and contact information.
- 2004 - March 18, 2004 - Nokia, Philips (now under NXP Semiconductors) and Sony established the NFC Forum, a non-profit industry formed to advance the use of NFC wireless interaction in consumer electronics, mobile devices and PCs. Standards include the four distinct tag types that provide different communication speeds and capabilities covering flexibility, memory, security, data retention and write endurance. NFC Forum promotes implementation and standardization of NFC technology to ensure interoperability between devices and services.
- 2005 - In early March 2005 hobbyist Amal Graafstra implanted a 125khz EM4102 bioglass-encased RFID transponder into his left hand. It was used with an access control system to gain entry to his office. Soon after in June 2005 he implanted a more advanced HITAG S 2048 low frequency transponder. In 2006 he authored the book RFID Toys, Graafstra uses his implants to access his home, open car doors, and to log on to his computer. With public interest growing, in 2013 he launched biohacking company Dangerous Things and crowdfunded the world's first implantable NFC transponder in 2014. He has also spoken at various events and promotional gigs including TEDx, and built a smartgun that only fires after reading his implant.
- 2009 - On 16 March 2009 British scientist Mark Gasson had a glass capsule RFID device surgically implanted into his left hand. In April 2010 Gasson's team demonstrated how a computer virus could wirelessly infect his implant and then be transmitted on to other systems. Gasson reasoned that with implanted technology the separation between man and machine can become theoretical because the technology can be perceived by the human as being a part of their body. Because of this development in our understanding of what constitutes our body and its boundaries he became credited as being the first human infected by a computer virus. He has no plans to remove his implant.
- 2014 - In June 2014, during the From Now Conference in Vancouver, Canada, event organizer and futurist Nikolas Badminton had an xNT chip implanted into his left hand on stage by noted biohacker Amal Graafstra.
- 2018 - VivoKey Technologies developed the first cryptographically-secure human implantable NFC transponders in 2018. The Spark is an AES128 bit capable ISO/IEC 15693 2mm by 12mm bioglass encased injectable device. The Flex One is an implantable contactless secure element, capable of running Java Card applets (software programs) including Bitcoin wallets, PGP, OATH OTP, U2F, WebAuthn, etc. It is encapsulated in a flat, flexible 7mm x 34mm x 0.4mm flat biopolymer shell. Applets can be deployed to the Flex One before or after implantation.
- 2020 - On 28 August 2020, Neuralink CEO Elon Musk, revealed a company directed live video podcast showcasing a pig called Gertrude with a coin-sized computer chip in her brain to demonstrate his ambitious plans to create a working brain-to-machine interface.
Several hobbyists, through to scientists and business personalities have placed RFID microchip implants into their hands or had them inserted by others.
- Mikey Sklar had a chip implanted into his left hand and filmed the procedure.
- Patric Lanhed sent a “bio-payment” of one euro worth of Bitcoin using a chip embedded in his hand.
- Marcel Varallo had an NXP chip coated in Bioglass 8625 inserted into his hand between his forefinger and thumb allowing him to open secure elevators and doors at work, print from secure printers, unlock his mobile phone and home, and store his digital business card for transfer to mobile phones enabled for NFC.
- Biohacker Hannes Sjöblad has been experimenting with near field communication (NFC) chip implants since 2015. During his talk at Echappée Voléé 2016 in Paris, Sjöblad disclosed that he has also implanted himself with a chip between his forefinger and thumb and uses it to unlock doors, make payments, unlock his phone, and essentially replacing anything that is put in one’s pockets. Additionally, Sjöblad has hosted several "implant parties," where interested individuals can also be implanted with the chip.
- Amal Graafstra CEO of Vivokey and Dangerous Things has gained prominency for being an inventor and business commercial distributor of subdermal RFID/NFC Implants on the world stage. Implanted in both hands with his companies' implants, he aims to bring awareness to the growing implantation movement.
For Microchip implants that are encapsulated in silicate glass there exists multiple methods to embed the device subcutaneous ranging from placing the microchip implant in an syringe or trocar and piercing under the flesh (subdermal) then releasing the syringe to using a cutting tool such as a surgical scapel to cut open subdermal and positioning the implant in the open wound.
A list of popular uses for microchip implants are as follows;
Other uses either cosmetic or medical may also include;
RFID implants using NFC technologies have been used as access cards ranging for car door entry to building access. Secure identity has also been used to encapsulate or impersonate a users identity via secure element or related technologies.
Researchers have examined microchip implants in humans in the medical field and they indicate that there are potential benefits and risks to incorporating the device in the medical field. For example, it could be beneficial for noncompliant patients but still poses great risks for potential misuse of the device.
Destron Fearing, a subsidiary of Digital Angel, initially developed the technology for the VeriChip.
In 2004, the VeriChip implanted device and reader were classified as Class II: General controls with special controls by the FDA; that year the FDA also published a draft guidance describing the special controls required to market such devices.
About the size of a grain of rice, the device was typically implanted between the shoulder and elbow area of an individual’s right arm. Once scanned at the proper frequency, the chip responded with a unique 16-digit number which could be then linked with information about the user held on a database for identity verification, medical records access and other uses. The insertion procedure was performed under local anesthetic in a physician's office.
Privacy advocates raised concerns regarding potential abuse of the chip, with some warning that adoption by governments as a compulsory identification program could lead to erosion of civil liberties, as well as identity theft if the device should be hacked. Another ethical dilemma posed by the technology, is that people with dementia could possibly benefit the most from an implanted device that contained their medical records, but issues of informed consent are the most difficult in precisely such people.
In June 2007, the American Medical Association declared that "implantable radio frequency identification (RFID) devices may help to identify patients, thereby improving the safety and efficiency of patient care, and may be used to enable secure access to patient clinical information", but in the same year, news reports linking similar devices to cancer caused in laboratory animals had a devastating impact on the company's stock price and sales.
In 2010, the company, by then called PositiveID, withdrew the product from the market due to poor sales.
In January 2012, PositiveID sold the chip assets to a company called VeriTeQ that was owned by Scott Silverman, the former CEO of Positive ID.
In 2016, JAMM Technologies acquired the chip assets from VeriTeQ; JAMM's business plan was to partner with companies selling implanted medical devices and use the RfID tags to monitor and identify the devices. JAMM Technologies is co-located in the same Plymouth, Minnesota building as Geissler Corporation with Randolph K. Geissler and Donald R. Brattain listed as its principals. The website also claims that Geissler was CEO of PositiveID Corporation, Destron Fearing Corporation, and Digital Angel Corporation.
In 2018, A Danish firm called BiChip released a new generation of microchip implant  that is intended to be readable from distance and connected to Internet. The company released an update for its microchip implant to associate it with the Ripple cryptocurrency to allow payments to be made using the implanted microchip.
In 2020, A London based firm called Impli released a microchip implant that is intended to be used with an accompanying smartphone app. The primary functionality of the implant is as a storage of medical records. The implant can be scanned by any smartphone that has NFC capabilities.
Building access and security
In February 2006, CityWatcher, Inc. of Cincinnati, OH became the first company in the world to implant microchips into their employees as part of their building access control and security system. The workers needed the implants to access the company's secure video tape room, as documented in USA Today. The project was initiated and implemented by Six Sigma Security, Inc. The VeriChip Corporation had originally marketed the implant as a way to restrict access to secure facilities such as power plants.
A major drawback for such systems is the relative ease with which the 16-digit ID number contained in a chip implant can be obtained and cloned using a hand-held device, a problem that has been demonstrated publicly by security researcher Jonathan Westhues and documented in the May 2006 issue of Wired magazine, among other places.
- The Baja Beach Club, a nightclub in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, once used VeriChip implants for identifying VIP guests.
- The Epicenter in Stockholm, Sweden is using RFID implants for employees to operate security doors, copiers, and pay for lunch.
Purpose and appeal
Patients that undergo NFC implants do so for a variety of reasons ranging from, Biomedical diagnostics, health reasons to gaining new senses, gain biological enhancement, to be part of existing growing movements, for workplace purposes, security, hobbyists and for scientific endeavour.
Infection has also been cited as a source of failure within RFID and related microchip implanted individuals. Either due to improper implantation techniques, implant rejections or corrosion of implant elements.
Concern has been raised and investigated independently by various journalists and bodies on the nature of safety of being implanted and their proximity to MRI machines. So far no common conclusive investigation has been done in the matter of each individual type of implant and its risks involved near MRI's other than anecdotal reports ranging from no problems occurring with MRI machines, to requiring hand shielding before proximity, to outright denial of proximity due to danger.
Electronics-based implants contain little material that can corrode. Magnetic implants, however, often contain a substantial amount of metallic elements by volume, and iron a common implant element is easily corroded by common elements such as oxygen and water. Implant corrosion occurs when these elements become trapped inside during the encapsulation process, which can cause slow corrosive effect, or the encapsulation fails and allows corrosive elements to come into contact with the magnet. Catastrophic encapsulation failures are usually obvious, resulting in tenderness, discoloration of the skin, and a slight inflammatory response. Small failures however can take much longer to become obvious, resulting in a slow degradation of field strength without many external signs that something is slowly going wrong with the magnet.
Criticisms and concerns
In a self-published report, anti-RFID advocate Katherine Albrecht, who refers to RFID devices as "spy chips", cites veterinary and toxicological studies carried out from 1996 to 2006 which found lab rodents injected with microchips as an incidental part of unrelated experiments and dogs implanted with identification microchips sometimes developed cancerous tumors at the injection site (subcutaneoussarcomas) as evidence of a human implantation risk. However, the link between foreign-body tumorigenesis in lab animals and implantation in humans has been publicly refuted as erroneous and misleading and the report's author has been criticized over the use of "provocative" language "not based in scientific fact". Notably, none of the studies cited specifically set out to investigate the cancer risk of implanted microchips and so none of the studies had a control group of animals that did not get implanted. While the issue is considered worthy of further investigation, one of the studies cited cautioned "Blind leaps from the detection of tumors to the prediction of human health risk should be avoided".
Stolen identity, privacy security risks
The Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) of the American Medical Association published a report in 2007 alleging that RFID implanted chips may compromise privacy because even though no information can be stored in an RFID transponder, they allege that there is no assurance that the information contained in the chip can be properly protected.[dead link]
Stolen identity and privacy has been a major concern with Microchip implants being cloned for various nefarious reasons in a process known as Wireless identity theft. Incidents of forced removal of animal implants have been documented, the concern lies in whether this same practice will be used to attack implanted microchipped patients also. Due to low adoption of microchip implants incidents of these physical attacks are rare. Nefarious RFID reprogramming of unprotected or unencrypted microchip tags are also a major security risk consideration.
Risk to human freedom and autonomy
Some have expressed concerns that technology could be abused. Invasive technology has the potential to be used by governments to create an 'Orwellian' dystopia. In such a world, self-determination, the ability to think freely, and all personal autonomy would be completely lost; human beings would be essentially digital slaves to governments, corporations, or networks that owned the microchipping technology.
An example of a particular privacy concern is tagging criminals with RFID implants to track their location to provide updates on their whereabouts to authorities. These privacy concerns have been subject of ongoing debate, for example in Indonesia where it was proposed to tag sex offenders with RFID microchips.[better source needed]
Following Wisconsin and North Dakota,California issued Senate Bill 362 in 2007, which makes it illegal to force a person to have a microchip implanted, and provide for an assessment of civil penalties against violators of the bill.
In 2008, Oklahoma passed 63 OK Stat § 63-1-1430 (2008 S.B. 47), that bans involuntary microchip implants in humans.
On April 5, 2010, the GeorgiaSenate passed Senate Bill 235 that prohibits forced microchip implants in humans and that would make it a misdemeanor for anyone to require them, including employers. The bill would allow voluntary microchip implants, as long as they are performed by a physician and regulated by the Georgia Composite Medical Board. The state's House of Representatives did not take up the measure.
On February 10, 2010, Virginia's House of Delegates also passed a bill that forbids companies from forcing their employees to be implanted with tracking devices.
Washington State House Bill 1142-2009-10 orders a study using implanted radio frequency identification or other similar technology to electronically monitor sex offenders and other felons.
Potential future applications
In 2017, Mike Miller, chief executive of the World Olympians Association, was widely reported as suggesting the use of such implants in athletes in an attempt to reduce problems in sports due to recreational drug use.
Theoretically, a GPS-enabled chip could one day make it possible for individuals to be physically located by latitude, longitude, altitude, and velocity. Such implantable GPS devices are not technically feasible at this time. However, if widely deployed at some future point, implantable GPS devices could conceivably allow authorities to locate missing people and/or fugitives and those who fled from a crime scene. Critics contend, however, that the technology could lead to political repression as governments could use implants to track and persecute human rights activists, labor activists, civil dissidents, and political opponents; criminals and domestic abusers could use them to stalk and harass their victims; and child abusers could use them to locate and abduct children.
Another suggested application for a tracking implant, discussed in 2008 by the legislature of Indonesia's Irian Jaya would be to monitor the activities of people infected with HIV, aimed at reducing their chances of infecting other people. The microchipping section was not, however, included in the final version of the provincial HIV/AIDS Handling bylaw passed by the legislature in December 2008. With current technology, this would not be workable anyway, since there is no implantable device on the market with GPS tracking capability.
Since modern payment methods rely upon RFID/NFC, it is thought that implantable microchips, if they were to ever become popular in use, would form a part of the cashless society. Verichip implants have already been used in nightclubs such as the Baja club for such a purpose, allowing patrons to purchase drinks with their implantable microchip.
Market share of implanted individuals may possibly move on to more safer applications of wearable electronics and hardware such as Wearable computer.
In popular culture
Further information: New World Order conspiracy theory and Apocalypticism
The general public are most familiar with microchips in the context of identifying pets. Some Christians make a link between the PositiveID and the Biblical Mark of the Beast, prophesied to be a future requirement for buying and selling, and a key element of the Book of Revelation. Gary Wohlscheid, president of These Last Days Ministries, has argued that "Out of all the technologies with potential to be the mark of the beast, VeriChip has got the best possibility right now". "Arkangel", an episode of the fictional drama series Black Mirror, considered the potential for helicopter parenting of an imagined more advanced microchip.
Transhumanism is a movement related the implants and their relation to trans human qualities of which microchipped/sub-dermal implanted individuals are commonly grouped together with.
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False claim: A microchip implant will come with coronavirus vaccines
By Reuters Staff
5 Min Read
Users on social media are sharing a TikTok video showing people being implanted with a microchip, overlaid with text alleging that this will become part of all coronavirus vaccines. This claim is false as the footage has been taken out of context.
As of May 14, 2020 this video has been shared over 22,800 times on Facebook. Examples can be seen here , here , here and here
Most of the iterations of this claim feature a poor quality screengrab from a news broadcast with an overlaid text that reads “The R.F.I.D CHIP Coming in all corona vaccine shots In next 18 months (MARK OF THE BEAST).”
The original footage has been cropped and taken out of context. The video actually shows a 2017 report from NBC News’ Today show about a Wisconsin company which offered its employees the chance to have a microchip implant in their finger that they could use to buy snacks, log in to computers or activate the copy machine (here).
story was reported by several media outlets, including Reuters ( here ), the New York Times ( here ) and the BBC ( here ).
The devices by Three Square Market which are featured in the video are not GPS enabled, nor designed for tracking purposes ( 32chip.com/ ). “We've never been in this to advocate that all people get chipped. That's not our agenda," said Todd Westby, CEO of Three Square Market, in a press release visible here .
The TikTok clip, posted by user @globaltrending (now deleted), is actually filmed from a five minute YouTube conspiracy video titled “Coronavirus vaccine is the digital ID chip wow!” uploaded on April 12, 2020. The video falsely claims that “The digital ID chips is in the vaccine shot, that’s why they want everybody to take it”. It uses the clip from NBC’s Today report (taken out of context) as “proof” ( here ). There are several other claims within the video, which are out of scope of this Fact Check.
No vaccine has yet been approved for use against the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, though more than 100 are in development and at least 10 have reached the clinical testing stage ( here ). There is no evidence suggesting these vaccines will have a Radio-Frequency-Identification (RFID) chip.
Reuters has previously debunked false claims on social media that U.S. philanthropist Bill Gates planned to use microchip implants to fight the coronavirus ( here ).
False. The video from a 2017 news report has been taken out of context. There is no COVID-19 vaccine available yet nor evidence that a potential vaccine will include a microchip.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .
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Forced tracking microchip implants pose serious problem, state lawmaker says
CARSON CITY – A Senate committee on Monday heard testimony about a bill from a state senator that would bar forcefully implanted tracking microchips.
Committee members seemed intrigued by the legislation introduced by State Sen. Becky Harris, R-Las Vegas, given the somewhat futuristic concept of implanting a tracking device into a human.
“Sounds like a Russian plot to me,” said state Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas.
But tracking implants are very real, Harris said. Known as radio frequency identification devices, or RFIDs, current uses include tracking animals and pets as well as in credit cards. Information is picked up from signals sent between the chip and RFID scanning devices. The chips are about the size of a grain of rice, Harris said.
Harris said the chips pose serious ethical concerns, such as who owns the information stored on the chip and who owns the chip itself. Hacking was also problematic, she said.
“There’s no cryptology or protection measures that we’re aware of that are placed on these chips, so it’s possible to hack the information contained within the chips,” Harris said. “It is possible that you could harass or stalk chipped individuals with the right type of reader.”
Harris said the chips also pose a potential health problem, citing studies that found fibrosarcoma and sarcoma, a malignant cancerous tumor, at injection sites in animal testing.
Several concerns were raised during public testimony over the broad nature of the bill. State Sen. Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, said there might need to be an exception for military, while the Sean Sullivan of the Washoe County Public Defender’s office testified it could impede some cancer treatments that require tattoos for targeting radiation.
John Piro of the Clark County Public Defender’s office said he had concerns with possibly stacking category C felonies. Under the current bill, a person would be guilty of a category C felony every day the implant is present. A category C felony is punishable by between one and five years in prison and a fine of as much as $20,000.
Harris said she would amend the bill to alleviate some people’s concerns.
Seth A. Richardson covers politics for the Reno Gazette-Journal. Like him on Facebook here or follow him on Twitter at @SethARichardson.
View CommentsSours: https://www.rgj.com/story/news/politics/2017/02/13/forced-tracking-microchip-implants-pose-serious-problem-state-lawmaker-says/97874150/
Forced Worker Microchipping Faces Growing Preemptive Strike
When it comes to implantable devices in the workplace, one person’s high-tech utopia is another’s sign of the apocalypse.
Indiana state lawmakers, like their counterparts in at least 10 other states, might have had this paradox in mind when they passed legislation aimed at giving workers a choice. Indiana’s HB 1143 bans employers from requiring their workers to have devices implanted into their bodies, such as microchips or RFID tags.
The new law is set to take effect July 1, after Gov. (R) signed it on March 11.
The legislation, like similar proposals pending in a handful of states, could be seen as a preemptive strike at a time when implantable technology is starting to gain interest. Sources interviewed for this story weren’t aware of any U.S. workplace requiring it for their employees, although a few companies offer the option to workers.
“It causes you to question: Why is this being done? It’s not something employers are using widely, at least not yet,” said , attorney and chair of the data security and workplace privacy practice group for Fisher & Phillips LLP in Philadelphia. “There’s certainly a lot of potential benefits to the technology in terms of convenience and security.”
With no employers known to be requiring such implants, it’s unlikely many workplaces will see a direct operational effect from restrictions like those enacted in Indiana, said Boerner and another employment lawyer, Esther G. Lander, of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP in Washington.
Nevertheless, they noted significant privacy concerns for many workers, not to mention religious objections for others. Employers who hope to reap the potential benefits from implantable technology might have to endure a slow or limited rollout of such devices, Lander said.
Employers are banned from requiring device implants in Arkansas, California, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wisconsin, according to Bloomberg Law data. The language of the bans varies, with some specifying RFID tag implants and others referring broadly to implantable devices. The Montana law specifies that the ban applies to independent contractors as well as employees.
Similar proposals are pending this year in the state legislatures of Iowa and Rhode Island, although both legislative sessions are temporarily suspended due to concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus. A pair of similar bills also carried over from the 2019 session in Tennessee, where the House version of that proposal failed to pass its committee hearing last year.
‘It Sounds Scary’
Concerns about an invasion of worker privacy are to be expected with this kind of technology, although the privacy threat might be more a matter of perception than reality when it comes to the devices that are currently available, Lander said.
“It’s being implanted in you, so it sounds scary,” she said.
The implants available today are passive RFID tags about the size of a large grain of rice. When implanted into a person’s hand, they allow the person to wave their hand close to a scanner to open a door, log into a computer, or pay for a snack in a company cafeteria.
These devices aren’t equipped for GPS tracking that could allow the hypothetical round-the-clock monitoring some workers might fear, Lander said.
That doesn’t mean future technology might not allow tracking, she added. Either way, she agreed with the sentiment of state lawmakers who don’t want to see it become mandatory for employees.
“Requiring that as a condition of employment would be a bit alarming,” Lander said.
The question of what’s mandatory or voluntary in the workplace isn’t so clear cut, though, according to Ifeoma Ajunwa, a professor and researcher at Cornell University who specializes in ethics related to workplace technology.
The Indiana legislation “is a good first step,” she said, adding that it’s concerning that “the law is predicated on consent.”
“My stance is that consent is not really meaningful in this case because of the American employment landscape, which is employment at will,” giving employers power to persuade workers, Ajunwa said.
Negotiating through a union contract is the best remedy for workers who hope to avoid being pressured into having a device implanted, she said. In lieu of that, state lawmakers can provide somewhat better protection by going beyond the language of Indiana’s new law in various ways, she added.
For example, an Arkansas law that took effect in 2019 bans employers from requiring implants while also blocking employers from asking job applicants during the hiring process whether they will consent to implants. It also requires employers to provide workplace accommodations for workers who refuse device implants.
Mark of the Beast
Biometric privacy concerns go beyond implantable tech, as shown by the abundance of lawsuits filed under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act since its passage in 2008. That law requires various worker protections whenever an employer collects biometric information such as fingerprints from its employees, as a growing number of workplaces do for timekeeping and security systems.
The Illinois law is one of a kind, though.
“So far no other state has passed anything that comprehensive,” Boerner said. Texas and Washington state have biometric privacy laws, but they don’t allow a private cause of action like the Illinois law, she said.
This raises the question: Why are so many states looking to ban mandatory implants but not addressing broader biometric privacy issues that are common in the workplace, such as fingerprint scans?
Part of the answer lies in the way some Christians read the Bible’s Book of Revelation, Boerner said.
“I think there’s a really interesting history on this,” Boerner said. “There’s a group that thinks this may be the mark of the beast.”
The Book of Revelation’s apocalyptic prediction suggests a world leader—the Antichrist—will arise and require people to accept a marking on their foreheads or hands that allows them to conduct commerce. Those who accept this “mark of the beast” face condemnation, according to this religious teaching.
The same religious objection to biometric technology was enough for a West Virginia coal miner to win a federal discrimination lawsuit in 2015, Boerner noted.
The miner in that case sued after his employer, CONSOL Energy, wouldn’t accommodate his religious objections to use a handprint scanner for clocking in and out. He retired rather than use the scanner.
Implants forced microchip
Fact check: Americans won’t have microchips implanted by end of 2020
The claim: All Americans will receive a microchip implant by the end of the year
A viral article from the website My Healthy Life Guru claims that all Americans will receive a microchip implant by the end of the year.
"Some people are concerned that the federal government will be very influential with this revolutionized RFID Microchip," the article states. "They could see every move we make."
The article also asserts, "Your food and money will be also managed with these microchips."
It attributes the claim in part to NBC News, and links to a two-minute clip on YouTube of a technology report on “Life in the U.S. in Ten Years Time" from May 2007.
“The year is 2017,” intones reporter Tom Costello. “You're rushed to a hospital unconscious with no ID or medical history. But thanks to a microchip under your skin it's all there. Science fiction 20 years ago but a biometric reality today.”
In fact, 2017 has come and gone — and this "biometric reality" has yet to occur. Is it imminent in 2020?
The reality of microchips in 2020
Radio-frequency identification technology — or RFID — has been commercially available in various forms since the 1970s. It refers to a wireless system of tags and readers that communicate via radio waves.
Readers have one or more antenna that emits radio waves and receives signals back from tags in the vicinity, per the Food and Drug Administration. The tags may contain information ranging from one serial number to several pages of data.
The technology appears throughout daily life, including in car keys, employee identification, medical billing, highway toll tags and security access cards, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Chris Diorio, the CEO of Impinj, the world’s leading supplier of RAIN RFID, told USA TODAY that some of the fear and confusion about RFID technology stems from the fact that "saying RFID is about as broad as saying radio."
Various types of microchips with specific capabilities are suited for different purposes.
RAIN RFID allows about 1,000 item tags to be read per second at a 30-foot range, Diorio explained. That's why it is primarily associated "with traceability of items through the supply chain," where it improves retailers' ability to quickly and accurately inventory their products.
That's different from the type of near-field communication RFID that's in an iPhone, for example, and allows monetary transactions with a single tap at a very close range — the technology behind Apple Pay.
And those are both different from the low-frequency RFID that is used for animal identification purposes, including for livestock and pets.
Implantation in humans remains uncommon, unpopular
In 1998, Kevin Warwick, a British scientist known as "Captain Cyborg," became the first human to receive a microchip implant, according to The Atlantic.
Two decades later, though, the technology is still far from common.
In 2018, its most widespread use was in tech-forward Sweden, where an estimated 4,000 citizens use microchips implanted in their hands to store emergency contacts and enable easy access to homes, offices and gyms, according to NPR.
There are also no reported instances of involuntary microchip implantation.
"It's just never hide-able," Diorio said. Microchips implanted in pets are the size of a pill capsule, and that's "about as small as you can get it."
Even if chips were implanted, Diorio said there’s little reason to fear covert tracking, since the read-range of RFID in humans is limited by the amount of salt water in our bodies. (Radio signals die rapidly in water.)
“The idea of any kind of surreptitious implantation into a human is not really possible, and if you could get something, the ability to read it would be severely constrained,” Diorio said.
For that same reason, he said the microchips in pets are "really hard" to read. They are implanted in the neck, and the reader has to come "right on the neck" to extract any information from the chip, Diorio explained.
It's certainly invasive enough that a human would notice it.
There's also already been pushback against chipping in the United States.
Indiana, Nevada, Arkansas, Missouri, and Montana prohibit employers from requiring chip implants, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as reported in State Net Capitol Journal. Laws passed in California, Maryland, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Utah prohibit the required implantation of a microchip in any person, not just employees.
Heightened suspicions in recent months
This is not the first time misinformation about microchips and RFID has proliferated online in the past few months — from claims that the federal government, Bill Gates, and schools will use a vaccine for COVID-19 as a vehicle for microchips, to fears about the presence of RFID chips in bras and tires.
Fact check:Yes, there's a national coin shortage. Here's why
Recent posts questioning the legitimacy of the very real national coin shortage even link it to the powers that be “wanting us to have a chip in our hand.”
Fact check:A cashless society isn't imminent and wouldn't mean total end of cash
Elise Wang, a lecturer at Duke University and an expert on conspiracy theories, told USA TODAY that she believes microchip conspiracies are trending because they are “far more manageable than the real fears we have right now, like coronavirus and our economy collapsing.”
“The idea of fear of a specific, small device being implanted in you — that feels almost manageable. It's physical, it could be removed,” she said. “We can grasp that actually better than we can grasp the effect that this disease is going to have on us or the way the economy is going to go from here.”
Fact check:Though nasal test for COVID-19 swabs deep into the nose, nothing is implanted
Fear of tracking is also common, though unfounded, when it comes to RFID.
"It's a long-standing trope that people think they're being spied on, followed, traced," Joseph Uscinski, a political science professor at the University of Miami who studies conspiracy theories, told USA TODAY.
Most microchips are also not constantly transmitting information and do not perform real-time "tracking."
Take the example of the bras that contain microchips on their tags or care labels, which viral posts claimed were linked to sex trafficking.
Fact check:Victoria's Secret's RFID tags do not track customers
"The only time you can read it is when you have a reader nearby that can read the tag," Diorio explained. Readers must have antennae, which he said are "reasonably sized" — at least big enough that within a 10-foot read range, they'd be easy to spot, preventing surreptitious scanning.
Even if a bra's tag was scanned, though, the only information likely to be available would be a product code — not personal information.
Speculative reports on RFID have also fueled conspiracy theories
Rob Brotherton, who wrote a book on conspiracy theories, told USA TODAY that suspicions about microchips have also been fueled by reports about potential future capabilities of the technology.
For example, in 2017, USA TODAY wrote "You will get chipped — eventually." In 2018, The Atlantic also published the headline "Why You’re Probably Getting a Microchip Implant Someday."
Fact check:No, schools will not require a COVID-19 vaccine, with RFID chip, for students
"If you're inclined to suspect that someone might want to track you using some kind of secretive technology and might use the current pandemic as cover to instigate their plan, you don't exactly have to look too hard to find stories in reputable news sources — not some shady fake news sites — that seem to lend an element of plausibility to your hunch," Brotherton wrote in an email.
Fact check:Feds buy syringes that may have RFID chips, but no evidence COVID-19 vaccination required
Neither USA TODAY nor The Atlantic suggested that implantation would occur without consent, though, and USA TODAY noted that RFID technology lacks GPS capabilities at this time.
The claims can also be difficult to fact-check because they often point to the future — which is unknown.
"We can't really say that it's false because the future hasn't happened and we don't know," Uscinski said. "It may very well happen in the future that we may get chipped, but that doesn't mean it would be part of some malevolent plot or have anything to do with COVID or Bill Gates or anything like that."
Fact check:Bill Gates is not planning to microchip the world through a COVID-19 vaccine
At this point in time, experts said there's little reason to fear surreptitious tracking — at least not from a microchip.
"We all voluntarily carry around devices that track us just as well as any sort of chipping," Wang said. "We voluntarily give up our information — much more than you could get from some sort of chip."
Fact check:Dialing this viral code will show call forwarding status, not a phone tap
Our rating: False
Based on our research, the claim that all Americans will have microchips implanted by the end of the year is FALSE. Radio-frequency identification technology is scattered across daily life, but there are no reports of involuntary implantation in humans or reports that the technology has been used for surreptitious tracking.
In some states, it's actually illegal to require microchip implantation in humans. Tracking via microchips is also unlikely to occur by the government or another entity. Most RFID technology lacks GPS capabilities — which devices like smartphones already have.
Our fact-check sources:
- NBC Nightly News, "Life in the U.S. in Ten Years" (2007)
- Food and Drug Administration, "Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)"
- Department of Homeland Security, "Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): What is it?"
- Interview with Chris Diorio, Co-Founder and CEO of Impinj
- The Atlantic, "Why You’re Probably Getting a Microchip Implant Someday"
- NPR, "Thousands Of Swedes Are Inserting Microchips Under Their Skin"
- State Net Capitol Journal, "States Just Saying No to Employee Microchipping"
- Interview with Elise Wang, Lecturer at Duke University
- Interview with Joseph Uscinski, Political Science Professor at the University of Miami
- USA TODAY, "You will get chipped — eventually."
- Emailed Statement from Rob Brotherton, Author of "Suspicious Minds: Why We Believe Conspiracy Theories"
- USA TODAY, "Fact check: Feds buy syringes that may have RFID chips, but no evidence COVID-19 vaccination required"
- USA TODAY, "Fact check: Bill Gates is not planning to microchip the world through a COVID-19 vaccine"
- USA TODAY, "Fact check: No, schools will not require a COVID-19 vaccine, with RFID chip, for students"
- USA TODAY, "Fact check: Victoria's Secret's RFID tags do not track customers"
- USA TODAY, "Fact check: Yes, tires may have RFID chips. No, the government isn't tracking you"
- USA TODAY, "Fact check: A cashless society isn't imminent and wouldn't mean total end of cash"
- USA TODAY, "Fact check: Though nasal test for COVID-19 swabs deep into the nose, nothing is implanted"
Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.
Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.
Contributing: Mary Landers, Savannah Morning News
View CommentsSours: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/08/01/fact-check-americans-will-not-receive-microchips-end-2020/5413714002/
States are cracking down on companies microchipping their employees — how common is it?
Not at all, say experts on workplace law and technology, who worry the rice-sized microchips can open up massive questions about worker privacy and company surveillance.
“I would definitely not call it far-fetched,” said Ifeoma Ajunwa, a Cornell University labor and employment law professor focused on the ethical use of workplace technology. It’s been three years since workers at one Wisconsin company voluntarily had microchips inserted in their hands, and it’s likely there are “more companies out there, but they are probably not advertising it,” Ajunwa said.
“In the same way certain smartphone users arrange to get work emails on their personal phone, some chipped workers use their chip at the office so they can, for example, open up doors without company badges or key fobs. ”
In some cases, it’s tech-savvy workers who bring the chips to their bosses’ attention, said Amal Graafstra, CEO of Dangerous Things, a Seattle, Wash.-based implantable chip manufacturer and distributor, and VivoKey Technologies, a chip manufacturer
Those workers — typically on the IT side of a business — get an implant for personal use. The microchip is typically inserted between the thumb and index finger. The chips Graafstra’s company sells start around $50, plus an optional $50 for insertion with an affiliated doctor or piercing expert.
In the same way certain smartphone users arrange to get work emails on their personal phone, Graafstra said some chipped customers use their chip at work so they can, for example, open up doors without company badges or key fobs. In Sweden, people have been using microchips to store their emergency contact information, and pay for train rides and gym memberships.
Graafstra thinks the implanted chips could potentially eliminate all sorts of lost productivity from lost key badges, but he says many of the current orders could be motivated by something else.
“I would say it’s probably out of the cool factor,” he said. A handful of businesses told Graafstra they were implanting the chips for media attention, he added. “There’s definitely a marketing angle for some.”
The use of microchips on employees doesn’t appear to be spreading fast in corporate America, as far as he can tell. His companies received approximately 100 orders for various amounts of chips from American businesses between 2015 and 2018. For context, his chip manufacturing company Dangerous Things has sold between 150,000 and 200,000 chips domestically and abroad, mostly to individuals, since it launched in 2013.
“I wouldn’t say there are businesses going hog wild with chip implants,” he said.
Seven states have banned mandatory microchipping of humans
Nonetheless, lawmakers in Indiana and other states stand ready to legislate on the issue.
“‘Employers cannot go to employees and say ‘We’re doing away with name badges and microchipping you all.’ ”— — Indiana state Representative Alan Morrison
“What we’re trying to say is employers cannot go to employees and say, ‘We’re doing away with name badges and microchipping you all,’” the Indiana bill’s author, Rep. Alan Morrison, a Republican, told MarketWatch a week after the 96-0 vote.
Employers cannot condition a job offer on chip insertion and if workers lose their job for allegedly refusing to implant one, the bill lets them sue for damages.
Morrison said he was not aware of any companies in Indiana that have attempted to microchip employees. The only instance he knew of was the Wisconsin-based tech company Three Square Market, where approximately 50 workers voluntarily had chips inserted in 2017. (The company did not respond to a request for comment, but has previously said it has “zero interest in tracking anyone.”)
If the bill passes, Indiana would join four other states that outlaw mandatory microchipping for employees, said Pam Greenberg, a researcher on privacy and technology policy issues at the National Conference of State Legislatures, a resource organization for state governments.
Seven other states ban mandatory microchipping for any human, Greenberg said. Pending bills in Iowa and New Jersey would ban the forced microchipping of workers and another in Tennessee would ban mandatory microchipping for anyone.
Wisconsin started the trend, enacting its law against forced microchiping in 2006. That’s two years after the FDA approved implantable chips for humans, and long since veterinarians started using them on animals to help lost pets find their way home.
Yet even as more lawmakers worry about implantable devices, people keep getting more enmeshed in technology — and possibly Big Tech surveillance — without any sort of surgically inserted chip. Smartphones now unlock with a face scan or a thumbprint, and consumers can carry out financial transactions with biometric mobile wallets. Workers are also more accepting, or at least more aware, of the possibility their company is monitoring their moves.
Morrison acknowledges companies already have ways to track workers and there are no state laws laying ground rules on the issue. But there’s a difference with microchips, he said. “You can’t ever walk away from that. The company knows where you are 24/7.”
Graafstra, the owner of the chip companies, says it’s not that cut and dry. If a chip opens a simple device — like a door lock — there’s no data created or stored, he said. But if a person uses it with devices that create and store data, like a security system backed by cloud computing, they are giving up more information about themselves.
“It really depends exactly on how you are using it and what you are using it for,” he said. There’s a parallel with the trade-off between the anonymity of cash and the ease of a credit card, Graafstra added. “If you choose a credit card over cash, you’re telling lot of people, a lot of companies, where you were and what you were spending on one day.”
Nevada wanted to ban voluntary microchipping at one point
Ajunwa, the Cornell professor, says laws banning workers’ forced microchipping are necessary, but there’s a weak spot.
The overwhelming majority of American workers are hired presumably “at will,” which means they can be fired any reason — except for factors including pregnancy, race and gender.
“What if subtle hints about job security influence someone into having a microchip? ‘Then consent is not really meaningful in that case.’”— — Ifeoma Ajunwa, a Cornell University labor and employment law professor
Suppose a worker gets subtle hints they’re not a part of the team and perhaps putting their job on the line if they don’t have a microchip, Ajunwa said. “Then consent is not really meaningful in that case.”
Graafstra said workers would get the protections they needed under the various microchipping laws.
In fact, he thinks state legislators can sometimes go too far. A Nevada bill at one point would have banned voluntary microchipping, but it was amended and passed last year to only apply for involuntary implants.
Graafstra — a man with four chips implanted in his left hand and two in his right hand — understands when people take a dim view of microchipping. “I’d say you’re acting like regular human who’s skeptical of something they are unaware of. … With any technological change, there’s always a ‘this is crazy’ crowd.”
Morrison, the Indiana lawmaker, wants to draw a boundary now regardless of what happens with microchipping in the future.
“Sometimes it’s a slow drip into the marketplace,” Morrison said. “I think it’s good to be out in front on this thing.” State senators could vote on the bill by February, he said.
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Center for Strategic & International Studies
June 23, 2020
By Jessica 'Zhanna' Malekos Smith, J.D.
“Where is my key?” Frantically rummaging through one’s briefcase for that elusive key, the thought of $150 suddenly comes to mind.
That is the average cost of the procedure to have a microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, surgically inserted between one’s thumb and index finger.
Imagine — with the swipe of one’s microchipped hand against a digital reader device, unlocking that door — whether it leads to one’s office, garage, or home. Today, more than 50,000 people worldwide have elected to receive microchip implants. This technology is especially popular in Sweden, where more than 4,000 Swedes are replacing keycards for chip implants to use for gym access, e-tickets on railway travel, and even store emergency contact information and social media profiles. In the United States, while chip implants are gradually being embraced, some lawmakers are taking preemptive action to prohibit forced microchipping. The first company to begin offering employees free microchip implants was a Wisconsin vending machine software company in 2017. This alarmed some lawmakers, however, who felt it was “a rabbit hole I don’t think we should go down” and proposed banning human microchip implants.
Another rabbit hole is the Bill Gates ‘microchip conspiracy theory’
Politifact debunked the unfounded claim that the coronavirus pandemic is part of a plan by Microsoft founder Bill Gates to establish a vaccination program to implant trackable microchips in people. Facebook also flagged this spurious claim after the post was shared by more than 44,000 users. Additionally, the BBC debunked this after the leader of the Russian Communist party accused "globalists" of supporting "a covert mass chip implantation which they may in time resort to under the pretext of a mandatory vaccination against coronavirus".
Conspiracy theories aside, how do the microchip implants work?
According to the Seattle based biohacking company, Dangerous Things, the chip implants communicate using radio-frequency identification (RFID) and are “passive transponders.” Passive means that it “allows a small computer chip with no battery or power source to be powered by and communicate with compatible readers using the magnetic field the reader generates.” Due to the chip’s petite size (e.g. 2mm x 12mm) the digital reader must be positioned a few inches away from one’s microchipped hand in order to communicate.
But not all implants are alike. Apart from RFID, Sweden’s top provider of chip implants, Biohax International, produces Near Field Communication (NFC) chips, which are used in mobile payments and contactless credit cards. NFC chips use electromagnetic radio fields to wirelessly communicate to digital readers within close proximity, much like smartphones. Further, these chips are “passive”, meaning that they store information that other devices can read, but the chip itself does not read information. According to Biohax, a benefit to NFC chips is their international use: “With the power of existing infrastructure and the wide variety of services and products already supporting the NFC standard globally, one huge benefit of ours is that we overlap virtually any private or public sector already using NFC or mobile tech.”
Why are some U.S. lawmakers calling for a preemptive ban?
While microchips offer alluring benefits of convenience and speed, they also carry privacy and security concerns.
A general security concern with NFC technology is that it could allowthirdpartiesto eavesdrop ondevice communication,corruptdata, or wage interception attacks, warns NFC.org. Interception attacks are when someone intercepts the data transmitted between two NFC devices and then alters the data as it’s being relayed. Like any device, these personal chips have security vulnerabilities and could potentially be hacked, even if it’s embedded underneath the skin.
These chip implants can also reveal a lot of personal information, cautions Stockholm's Karolinska Institute microbiologist Ben Libberton, such as “data about your health … data about your whereabouts, how often you’re working, how long you’re working, if you’re taking toilet breaks and things like that.”
Religious objections are also being raised against hand-scanners and other biometric technology in the workplace. For instance, in 2013 a coal miner in West Virginia filed a Title VII religious discrimination case against his employer, Consol Energy, Inc., for refusing to accommodate his religious objection to using a biometric hand-scanner to clock in and out at work. He feared that using Consol’s hand-scanner would be tantamount to the ‘Mark of the Beast’ and “could lead to his identification with the Antichrist.” The district court ruled in favor of the employee because the company “failed to make available to a sincere religious objector the same reasonable accommodation it offered other employees.”
Banning mandatory implants
Currently, 11 states in the U.S. have passed statutes banning mandatory human microchips.
For example, CaliforniaCivil Code section 52.7 makes it unlawful for anyone — not just employers — to “require, coerce, or compel any other individual to undergo the subcutaneous implanting of an identification device”, and WisconsinStatute section 146.25 recites that “[n]o person may require an individual to undergo the implanting of a microchip.” Among the other states that have enacted similar legislation are: Maryland (Md. Code Ann. § 20-1902), New Hampshire, North Dakota (N.D. Cent. Code § 12.1-15-06), Oklahoma (Okla. Stat. tit. 63, § 1-1430), and Utah.
A few states, however, have enacted legislation that only forbids employers from requiring employees to be microchipped. Missouri (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 285.035), Arkansas (Ark. Act 516), Indiana (HB 1143), and Montana (S.B. 286) also protect independent contractors and prohibit any state agency, or local government, from requiring people to be microchipped.
Nevada’s legislation is among the most restrictive of this technology — while not a total ban as previously proposed in 2017 — NV AB226 “prohibits an officer or employee of this State or any political subdivision thereof or any other person from: (1) requiring another person to undergo the implantation of a microchip or other permanent identification marker of any kind or nature; (2) establishing a program that authorizes a person to voluntarily elect to undergo the implantation of such a microchip or permanent identification marker; or (3) participating in a program established by another person, if the program authorizes a person to voluntarily elect to undergo the implantation of such a microchip or permanent identification marker.”
The states with pending legislation on this issue are Rhode Island, Iowa, Tennessee, and New Jersey.
Designing a more secure future
In a seminal 1890 law review article by Warren and Brandeis, they declared the “design of the law must be to protect those persons with whose affairs the community has no legitimate concern, from being dragged into an undesirable and undesired publicity and to protect all persons, whatsoever; their position or station, from having matters which they may properly prefer to keep private, made public against their will.” While this still holds true, as microchip implants gain popularity the onus can’t be on the law alone to “protect all persons.” Rather, this solemn responsibility also rests with technologists to design products that can protect all users from having their personal, financial, and health data made public against their will, and for users to be well-informed of their personal data rights. It is that trinity of shared responsibility, versus a total ban on this technology, that can sustain designing a more secure future for all to enjoy.
Jessica 'Zhanna' Malekos Smith, J.D., is a Senior Associate (non-resident) with the Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC.
The Technology Policy Blog is produced by the Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues. Its research is nonpartisan and nonproprietary. CSIS does not take specific policy positions. Accordingly, all views, positions, and conclusions expressed in this publication should be understood to be solely those of the author(s).