- Cincinnati video surveillance company
CityWatcher.com now requires employees to use VeriChip human implantable
microchips to enter a secure data center, Network Administrator Khary Williams
told Liz McIntyre by phone yesterday. McIntyre, co-author of "Spychips:
How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with
RFID," contacted CityWatcher after it announced it had integrated
the VeriChip VeriGuard product into its access control system.
- The VeriChip is a glass encapsulated
RFID tag that is injected into the flesh of the triceps area of the arm
to uniquely number and identify individuals. The tag can be read through
a person's clothing, silently and invisibly, by radio waves from a few
inches away. The highly controversial device is being marketed as a way
to access secure areas, link to medical records, and serve as a payment
instrument when associated with a credit card.
- According to Williams, a local doctor
has already implanted two of CityWatcher's employees with the VeriChip
devices. "I will eventually" receive an implant, too, he added.
In the meantime, Williams accesses the data center with a VeriChip implant
housed in a heart-shaped plastic casing that hangs from his keychain. He
told McIntyre he had no qualms about undergoing the implantation procedure
himself, and said he would receive an implant as soon as time permits.
- "lt worries us that a government
contractor that specializes in surveillance projects would be the first
to publicly incorporate this technology in the workplace," said McIntyre.
CityWatcher provides video surveillance, monitoring and video storage for
government and businesses, with cameras set up on public streets throughout
- The company hopes the VeriChip will beef
up its proximity or "prox" card security system that controls
access to the room where the video footage is stored, said Gary Retherford
of Six Sigma Security, Inc., the company that provided the VeriChip technology.
"The prox card is a system that can be compromised," said Retherford,
referring to the card's well-known vulnerability to hackers. He explained
that chipping employees "was a move to increase the layer of security....It
was attractive because it could be integrated with the existing system."
- Ironically, implantable tags may not
provide CityWatcher with that additional safety, after all. Last month
security researcher Jonathan Westhues demonstrated how the VeriChip can
be skmmed and cloned by a hacker, who could theoretically duplicate an
individual's VeriChip implant to access a secure area. Westhues, author
of a chapter titled "Hacking the Prox Card" for Simson Garfinkel's
recent "RFID: Applications, Security, and Privacy," said the
VeriChip "is not good for anything" and has absolutely no security.
- "No one I spoke with at Six Sigma
Security or at CityWatcher knew that the VeriChip had been hacked,"
McIntyre observed. "They were also surprised to hear of VeriChip's
downsides as a medical device. It was clear they weren't aware of some
of the controversy surrounding the implant."
- Although CityWatcher reportedly does
not require its employees to take an implant to keep their jobs, Katherine
Albrecht, "Spychips" co-author and outspoken critic of the VeriChip,
says the chipping sets an unsettling precedent. "It's wrong to link
a person's paycheck with getting an implant," she said. "Once
people begin 'voluntarily' getting chipped to perform their job duties,
it won't be long before pressure gets applied to those who refuse."
- Albrecht predicts that news of the security
flaws will combine with public squeamishness to make the VeriChip a hard
product to sell, however. "Obviously, nobody wants their employer
coming at them with a giant hypodermic needle. But when people realize
it takes a scalpel and surgery to remove the device if it gets hacked,
they'll really think twice," she said. "An implant is disgusting
enough going in, but getting it out again is a bloody mess."
- Albrecht and McIntyre, who are Christians,
also have religious concerns about RFID chip implants. In their latest
book, "The Spychips Threat: Why Christians Should Resist RFID and
Electronic Surveillance," the pair explain how plans by global corporations
and government entities to broadly deploy RFID could usher in a world that
bears a striking resemblance to the one predicted in Revelation, the last
book of the Bible.
- According to Revelation, at some future
point people will not be able to buy or sell unless they are numbered and
bear a mark on their hand or forehead.
- "While Christians have theological
reasons to reject being uniquely numbered, this is an issue that should
concern anyone who values privacy and civil liberties," said Albrecht.
"The VeriChip is Big Brother technology being unscrupulously marketed
by a company that would like to put a chip in every one of us. It has no
place on free American soil."
- ABOUT THE BOOKS
- "Spychips: How Major Corporations
and Government Plan to Track your Every Move with RFID" (Nelson Current)
was released in October 2005. Already in its fifth printing, "Spychips"
is the winner of the Lysander Spooner Award for Advancing the Literature
of Liberty and has received wide critical acclaim. Authored by Harvard
doctoral researcher Katherine Albrecht and former bank examiner Liz McIntyre,
the book is meticulously researched, drawing on patent documents, corporate
source materials, conference proceedings, and firsthand interviews to paint
a convincing -- and frightening -- picture of the threat posed by RFID.
- Despite its hundreds of footnotes and
academic-level accuracy, the book remains lively and readable according
to critics, who have called it a "techno-thriller" and "a
masterpiece of technocriticism."
- "The Spychips Threat: Why Christians
Should Resist RFID and Electronic Surveillance" (Nelson Current, January
31, 2006) is a paperback version of the original book that addresses Christian
concerns associated with the technology.
- FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
- Katherine Albrecht (firstname.lastname@example.org)
877-287-5854 or Liz McIntyre (email@example.com) 877-287-5854
- CASPIAN Consumer Privacy www.spychips.com