March 1, 2012
How would you like to wake up some morning only to find a tattoo on your arm that says Intel Inside? The idea first started to gain traction back in 2002, when one company (Allied Digital Solutions via a subsidiary) sought FDA approval for its VeriChip, a radio-frequency identification (RFID) device. The purpose of the implant was to make it possible to identify a person — someone who could not identify themselves — and it would contain any pertinent health information that might be needed by emergency personnel. This 2004 documentation contains the FDA guidelines for the embedding of these VeriChip devices into humans (aka patients).
Those who favor using embedded chipping for ID purposes present the following arguments:
• It would benefit the caregivers of the elderly, especially those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, since it would make it easier for them to be located if they wandered off. In this case, it would mean that they could be returned to the safety of their home.
• It would be a way of locating missing children. This could be an invaluable resource if the child was abducted and not just off playing.
• It would be valuable in the event that a child suffering from an abnormality (such as autism) could be quickly located if they became lost or if they needed to receive medical treatment.
• The chip can be used to readily access medical information.
• The chip can be used for identification purposes, making going through security checkpoints easier.
Those who are against embedding chips into humans for any purpose present these arguments:
• First and seemingly at the forefront of their argument are privacy issues. They cite that their paramount concern is that the government is already in a position of unwarranted control into the lives of its citizens and that chipping would allow them the ability to track us no matter where we went.
• This goes hand in hand with religious concerns that the embedding of identification chips could be a prelude to what is referred to in the Bible as the Mark of the Beast. This is a numerical digit that would be placed on a person’s hand or forehead and then scanned whenever something is sold or purchased.
• Medically, they cite concerns that, for those with auto immune type diseases, the embedding of a chip could lead to infection.
• Additionally, critics point out that if the person is issued a bracelet with an RFID chip — rather than having one embedded in the skin — they are then allowed the freedom to choose whether they wish to wear the bracelet or not.
However, it appears that the company that originally developed the VeriChip seems to have had second thoughts about it and has currently abandoned its development efforts. According to its website, this is a relatively new development and it is a curiosity as to why it no longer feels the need for emergency personnel to have access to a quick means of accessing medical records. It does appear, though, that the company hasn’t totally given up on the idea of using chips for humans and has developed a chip that it calls GlucoChip, which measures glucose levels in the body using an RFID microchip. The purpose of the microchip is supposedly an effort to assist diabetics in better monitoring their blood glucose levels. Since it is always reading their blood, it will be able to provide real time reporting and analysis. That means that it could just be a matter of time before someone else takes up the mantle to chip humans for other purposes.
One must also note that chipping has become commonplace for other purposes, such as tracking lost pets. Chipping of your pet can cost upwards of $100 or more in most veterinary offices, and the chip itself is about the size of a grain of rice. One cited advantage is that it won’t disturb your pet’s sensitive hearing since it has no broadcast frequency and doesn’t require a battery for power. Currently, this process is simple and the information is limited to an identifying number that associates the pet with its human owner via a scanner and a computer database of information.
So while we are not currently in danger of being given a governmental mandate that we must receive such an implant, it can be concluded that this is definitely one hot topic. However, in the long run there is really only one real issue and that is how you feel about having an ID chip put under your skin. Do you believe that it will really interfere with your constitutional right to privacy? Do you have a religious conviction about having one implanted in your body? Do you think that having medical information available in the event of an accident is important? Each of us has to decide the answers to the above questions for ourselves.
So no matter which side of the issue you are on, whether you are for or against chips being embedded under your skin, I believe you should be allowed the freedom of choice for yourself and for those in your care. I also believe that there are rational opinions on both sides of the issue and that we should all respect and support the choices of others in the matter.
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