- 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
- 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.
- ABOUT THE BOOK
- "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 2006 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 Spanish-language version of the book,
titled "Chips Espias," will be available in bookstores in the
Americas and Spain starting June 6, 2006.
- FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT
- Katherine Albrecht (firstname.lastname@example.org)
877-287-5854 ext. 1 or Liz McIntyre (email@example.com) 877-287-5854 ext.