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This article deals with human microchip implants. For use in animals, see Microchip implant (animal).
Just after an operation to insert a RFID tag. Note that the yellow coloration comes from iodine used to clean areas before surgery, and is not related to the implant.

A human microchip implant is an integrated circuit device or RFID transponder encased in silicate glass and implanted into a human's body. A subdermal implant typically contains a unique ID number that can be linked to information contained in an external database, such as personal identification, medical history, medications, allergies, and contact information.



The first reported experiment with an RFID implant was carried out in 1998 by the British scientist Kevin Warwick [1]. As a test, his implant was used to open doors, switch on lights, and cause verbal output within a building. The implant has since been held in the Science Museum (London).[citation needed]

Since that time, at least two additional hobbyists have placed RFID microchips implants into their hands or had them placed there by others.

Amal Graafstra, author of the book "RFID Toys," asked doctors to place implants in his hands. A cosmetic surgeon used a scalpel to place a microchip in his left hand, and his family doctor injected a chip into his right hand using a veterinary Avid injector kit. Graafstra uses the implants to open his home and car doors and to log on to his computer. Neither implant was the VeriChip brand.[2]

Mikey Sklar had a chip implanted into his left hand and filmed the procedure. He has done a number of media[3] and personal interviews[4] about his experience of being microchipped.

Commercial implants

In 2002, the VeriChip Corporation (known as the Positive ID Corporation since November 2009) received preliminary approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market its device in the U.S. within specific guidelines. The device received approval in 2004.


Medical records use

The PositiveID Corporation (previously known as The VeriChip Corporation; Applied Digital Solutions, Inc.; and The Digital Angel Corporation) distribute the implantable chip known as the VeriChip. The company suggests that the implant could be used to retrieve medical information in the event of an emergency, as follows: Each VeriChip implant contains a 16-digit ID number. This number is transmitted when a hand-held VeriChip scanner is passed within a few inches of the implant. Participating hospitals and emergency workers can enter this number into a secure page on the VeriChip Corporation's website to access medical information that the patient has previously stored on file with the company.

According to some reports, in 2006 80 hospitals had agreed to own a VeriChip scanner provided by the company and 232 doctors had agreed to inject the devices into patients who requested them.[5] However, the VeriChip Corporation has been sued by its shareholders for making "materially false and misleading statements" regarding hospital acceptance figures. According to Glancy & Binkow, the law firm that filed the class action suit:

"...on May 9, 2002, defendants [the then Applied Digital Corporation] claimed that nearly every major hospital in the West Palm Beach, Florida area would be equipped with VeriChip scanners, an indispensable component of the Company's VeriChip technology. However, one day later on May 10, 2002, the truth was disclosed that no hospital had accepted a scanner, an essential device for retrieving the VeriChip's information. Following the May 10, 2002, disclosure, the price of Applied Digital stock again fell sharply, dropping nearly 30% in a single day."[6]

Building access and security

The VeriChip Corporation has also suggested that the implant could be used to restrict access to secure facilities such as power plants. Microchip scanners could be installed at entrances so locks would only work for persons with appropriately programmed chips.

The downside 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[7] and documented in the May 2006 issue of Wired magazine,[8] among other places.

A nightclub in Barcelona offered a chip implant for identifying VIP guests [1].

Possible problems


Veterinary and toxicology studies carried out from 1996 to 2006 found that lab mice and rats injected with microchips sometimes developed cancerous tumors around the micropchips (subcutaneous sarcomas). Data suggest that between 1% and 10% of the implanted lab animals developed malignant cancers originating in the tissue surrounding the microchips. Dr. Cheryl London, a veterinarian oncologist at Ohio State University, noted: "It's much easier to cause cancer in mice than it is in people. So it may be that what you're seeing in mice represents an exaggerated phenomenon of what may occur in people." London suggested a 20-year study of chipped canines was needed "to see if you have a biological effect." Specialists from several pre-eminent cancer institutions have supported such testing before microchips are implanted on a large scale in humans.[citation needed]

Other medical complications

According to the FDA, implantation of the VeriChip poses potential medical downsides.[9] Electrical hazards, MRI incompatibility, adverse tissue reaction, and migration of the implanted transponder are just a few of the potential risks associated with the Verichip ID implant device, according to an October 12, 2004 letter issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).[10]

A patient could be burned if the chip reacts to outside source of EMF radiation, such as a strong electrical field or a magnetic resonance imager (MRI) machine. The strong magnets used in an MRI scanner could destroy the implant and cause serious burns, internally and externally.[citation needed] According to the FDA's Primer on Medical Device Interactions with Magnetic Resonance Imaging Systems, "electrical currents may be induced in conductive metal implants" that can cause "potentially severe patient burns."

However, when the Mythbusters TV show[citation needed] tested a microchip implant in an MRI machine, the test subject showed no signs of pain or trauma. Since MRI machines come in various strengths, it is possible that higher energy-emitting MRI machines may be more problematic. The model and make of the chip could affect possible outcomes as well.

Security risks

Since nearly all implantable microchips are unencrypted, they are extremely vulnerable to being read by third-party scanners. By scanning secretly, someone could steal the information on a chip and clone the signal, enabling a hacker to impersonate a chipped individual. This could create security problems for building or computer access or potentially enable the criminal misuse a medical account held by an unrelated person. Also, the chip could easily be removed from the person, or the apendage containing the device could be removed.[5]

Future applications

Theoretically, in the future a GPS-enabled chip could make it possible for individuals to be physically located by latitude, longitude, altitude, speed, and direction of movement. This could aid authorities in locating missing persons and/or fugitives and those who fled from a crime scene. Another potential application, discussed (2008) by the government of Indonesia's Irian Jaya is to monitor activities of persons infected with HIV, aiming at reducing the chances of them infecting other people.[11] It has also been published lately by several US government organizations that implanting chips in humans may assist in studying cancer.[12]

Ethical questions

Microchip implant in humans have raised new ethical discussions by scientific professional forums,[13] academic groups,[14] human rights organizations, government departments and religious groups. 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 there is no assurance that the information contained in the chip can be properly protected, notwithstanding health risks (chips may travel under the skin) [15].

Some Christians have expressed concern that the development of implantable microchips and RFIDs are a precursor to events prophesied in the Bible's Book of Revelation.[16][17] Implantable chips are seen as technological development that could be used to implement the prophesy that predicted that a "Mark of the Beast" on the hand or forehead will be required for individuals to complete any transactions in future society. According to belief in this interpretation of the prophesy, the fate for those that take the mark will be that they are destroyed or condemned by God.[18]


Following Wisconsin and North Dakota [19], California issued Senate Bill 362 in 2007, which prohibits employers and others from forcing anyone to have a RFID device implanted under their skin [19].

See also


  1. ^ CNN - Is human chip implant wave of the future? - January 14, 1999
  2. ^ Graafstra
  3. ^ link Fox News Interviews Mikey Sklar
  4. ^ Johnny Goldstein Interviews Mikey Sklar
  5. ^ a b Byles, Ileiren (2006). Health-care chips could get under your skin. Retrieved on 2006-10-28.
  6. ^ Glancy & Binkow LLP Filed the First Class Action Lawsuit Against Applied Digital Solutions, Inc. Based Upon Recent Events -- ADSXE
  7. ^ Westhues, Jonathan. "Demo: Cloning a VeriChip." Demo: Cloning a VeriChip.
  8. ^ Newitz, Annalee. Wired Magazine. May 2006. "The RFID Hacking Underground.".
  9. ^ FDA LETTER RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT VERICHIP SAFETY, DATA SECURITY: Implantable RFID device "poses potential risks to health"
  10. ^ CASPIAN Special Report, October 19, 2004: FDA Letter Raises Questions about VeriChip Safety, Data Security
  11. ^ "Indonesia's Papua plans to tag AIDS sufferers", Mon Nov 24, 2008.
  12. ^ Nanotechnology in Cancer, at
  13. ^ RFID inside, by Kenneth R. Foster and Jan Jaeger, IEEE Spectrum online
  14. ^ Ethical Assessment of Implantable Brain Chips, by Ellen M. McGee and G. Q. Maguire, Jr., Boston University
  15. ^ CEJA of the American Medical Association, CEJA Report 5-A-07, Radio Frequency ID Devices in Humans, presented by Robert M. Sade, MD, Chair. 2007
  16. ^ Albrecht, Katherine; McIntyre (2006-01-31). The Spychips Threat: Why Christians Should Resist RFID and Electronic Surveillance. Nelson Current. ISBN 159550216. 
  17. ^ Baard, Mark (2006-06-06). "RFID: Sign of the (End) Times?". Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  18. ^ Cullen (2002-04-12). "The Mark of the Beast ID microchip". The Register. Retrieved 2009-10-13. 
  19. ^ a b California Bans Forced RFID Tagging of Humans, Government Technology website, October 17, 2007

Further reading

  • Haag, Stephen; Cummings, Maeve, and McCubbrey, Donald (2004). Management Information Systems for the Information Age (4th ed.). New York City, NY: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-281947-2. 
  • Albrecht, Katherine; McIntyre, Liz (2005). Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track your Every Move with RFID (1st ed.). Nashville, TN: Nelson Current. ISBN 1-5955-5020-8. 
  • Graafstra, Amal (2004). [2]RFID Toys: 11 Cool Projects for Home, Office and Entertainment (4th ed.). New York City, NY: (ExtremeTech) Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.. ISBN 0-47-177196-1. 

External links


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