Get Chipped[TM]!

Hey kids! Look what we've got in store for you:

VeriChip, the world's first subdermal personal verification technology, announces a special, introductory pre-registration program. Sign up today to be among the first in the world to "Get Chipped."

Why, they've even got a ChipMobile that's coming to a town near you!

It's quick, it's easy, and it's subdermal:

VeriChip is a subdermal, radio frequency identification (RFID) device that can be used in a variety of security, financial, emergency identification and other applications. About the size of a grain of rice, each VeriChip product contains a unique verification number that is captured by briefly passing a proprietary scanner over the VeriChip. The standard location of the microchip is in the triceps area between the elbow and the shoulder of the right arm. The brief outpatient "chipping" procedure lasts just a few minutes and involves only local anesthetic followed by quick, painless insertion of the VeriChip. Once inserted just under the skin, the VeriChip is inconspicuous to the naked eye. A small amount of radio frequency energy passes from the scanner energizing the dormant VeriChip, which then emits a radio frequency signal transmitting the verification number...

VeriChip definitely needs to get chipped and with feeling.


Just posted this at Hit and Run in response to your comment on Keeping Track of Passengers, April 2 2004

Man oh Man, Lonewacko, you're a STAR --

You've spotted a topic of endless high entertainment value for at least the next decade to come. In fact, we've already started sliding on the slippery slope. Implant IDs for pets are already happening (though I doubt they're distributing them with mobile vans yet).

When I got a min schnauzer puppy about a year ago, she came with an implant ID (I think in her left haunch). There's some sort of central registry of the codes -- probably cooked up by the folks at the American Kennel Club to protect against weak-linage males being passed off as descendants of champion studs, or valuable bitches being stolen. Kind of like race horses having their lips tatooed to keep "ringers" out of stakes races. I didn't pay much attention to Nadya's chip, since I don't think any of those situations is likely to apply to either me or my adorable but eminently NON-showable puppy.

Now if an implant chip had a GPS element, I bet a lot of pet owners would jump at chipping to avoid heart-rending posters on telephone poles of "have you seen Spot..."

Just a matter of time before paranoid parents decide to chip their kids to keep them off milk cartons. And the first thing the lawyer representing a parent with custody in a messy divorce will advise is *get those kids of yours chipped!*

And then chips will replace wristband IDs for newborns. Imagine the size of a jury award if a baby was stolen out of a hospital that hadn't opted for a GPS-linked ID chip that was available on the market! Would the cost of chipping a baby be covered by the mother's health insurance? And what if the mother didn't have insurance?! Will chipping your kid be a matter for the feds (interstate commerce, Mann Act law enforcement, Medicaid etc) or a family law matter for the states?

What if a company develops a way to chip someone without their knowledge -- might put a bunch of private eyes out of business. The spouse who wants the goods on his/her life partner could just order a chip installation and tracking system on the internet.

Would surriptitous chipping done by the gov't have to meet the same standards and procedures as getting authorization for wiretaps? Homeland Security and DoJ would love it -- at *immigration* we could chip everybody entering the country instead of taking fingerprints that are messy and not as easily searchable as a chip ID code. (BTW the new fingerprint reqirement is going to be extended to visitors from US allies like Britain. I can hear the howls already). And instead of working on the current "honor system," we could keep track of foreign students who overstay their visas!

How 'bout a limited life chip that "expires" after a certain period, like trial software with a 30-day license? Or it gets automatically deactivated if you leave a job where you go in and out of building with a wave of your chipped shoulder.

We'd have to make sure the chip was tamper-proof or couldn't be forged -- we'd need some sort of verification or certification mechanism, right? And that means standards (industry or gov't) and agencies or "non-profits" to ensure standards are met, how to handle innovations, etc etc.

And then we have a whole other area to exploit -- thought control. The poor people who hear radios in their heads when they don't take their medication might have a legitimate complaint about hearing voices.

These are just the off-the-top-of-the-head scenarios that occurred to me in about 2 minutes. Clearly, the technological, bioscience, marketing, political hand-wringing and regulatory possibilities are almost endless!

If I were policy entrepreneur, I'd have visions dancing in my head of building a juicy career on just this one suggestion of yours. If some reader launches a "chipping policy" think tank, would you insist on a "cut" of the take, or just settle for attribution?

Hit & Run owes you more than a tip of the hat on this one!