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Lieu Than

Jhai, Sukhwant

UNST 131 B Cyborg Millennium

5 November 2003

Implantable ID Chip

     It is surprisingly astonishing that the Food and Drug Administration has allowed the use of Implantable ID chips in humans (Black).  Through a tiny incision VeriChip can be implanted into the body (Leventhal). It is no larger than a grain of rice (12mm by 2.1 mm), and emits 125-Kilohertz radio frequency signal that a scanner will be able to pick up from about four feet away (Leventhal). From that specific signal the scanner are able to identify the person (Leventhal).  For several years, this similar technology was use on pets but there is still no guarantee of safe results in human being. An FDA investigator Wally Pellerite said during an interview that VeriChip might have inherent risks in humans (Scheeres). Technology has reached a phase where it is crossing over the line and going way beyond our needs. Many people have different views upon the use of VeriChip.  But there is no dispute toward the fact that VeriChip contains both advantages and disadvantages. From my point of view, disadvantages seem to prevail.

     This product has recently gained considerable interest. Many people support the use of VeriChip because of its convenience in our every day life. It can be used for medical, security, financial, and any identification purposes.  It is especially important during this time that some form of technology is created to ensure national security.  Through this kind of technology our country can develop better protection for its citizens. VeriChip will be placed inside the body; therefore will be hard to counterfeit.  It would also be safer and more efficient than carrying an ID card, which will diminish the rate of identification theft.  If VeriChip is placed in the body it would be almost impossible for it to get lost or stolen.

     Hospital can take advantage of this VeriChip in many ways.  It can speed up many processes for both hospital and patients.  With the VeriChip, it would be easier to retrieve medical information and any information necessary for doctors.  It would also be extremely helpful when patients are unconscious and cannot respond, through a quick scan doctors can get all the information they need about the patient.  In spring 2002, a South Florida family planned to be the first in the country to have the VeriChip implanted in their bodies (Leventhal).  “I was motivated by security and medical concerns,” stated Leslie, the mother in the family (Leventhal).  Perhaps her motivation was due to the fact that she lives in the community where authorities alleged that fourteen of the nineteen September 11th hijackers lived (Leventhal).  Her husband is a cancer survivor who takes 10 different medications regularly, and her son, Derek is allergic to many common antibiotics (Leventhal).  “In an accident minutes and seconds mean everything.  The Chips speaks for you when you can’t” Leslie says (Leventhal). VeriChip has comforted Leslie and her family, their protection and security could finally be ensured.

     VeriChip will not only hold medical information, but it would also include a Global System tracking device that will track a person’s location (Leventhal).  It can, for example, be used to track Alzheimer patients when they get lost.  Not only will it increase protection for the elderly but also for children. Young children are incapable of taking care of themselves and would need constant attention.  However, in today’s busy world, parents may become too busy with work that they lost track of their children’s whereabouts.  There have been many cases in the past and still today where children are kidnapped due to a lack of parental attention.  Colombia , Mexico , and Brazil are the country with the highest number of kidnapping in the world (Leventhal). The number of kidnapping will significantly decrease in those countries if VeriChip are used.

     With VeriChip Police are able to track criminals to reduce the danger threatening our community and doctors are able to retrieve medical history through a quick scan.  This VeriChip could benefit everyone and may also help save many lives, there are many more possibilities and future potential for VeriChip.

     In all type of technology there are always controversies, human creation or man-made objects always have some flaws. VeriChip, as a result also have its disadvantages.  It can create health problems, lost of privacy, possible hacker, and malfunction.  Even though VeriChip are implanted inside the body, it can have negative effects. Infections and serious side effects can occur if the implant remains inside the body for a long period of time. In any kind of implants there seems to be always some form of complications. Looking at other implants made in the past can lead us to predict the result of similar procedure. Much like VeriChip, breast implant is also made of silicone (Ndlovu). In the past, there have been many complications related to breast implants. In 1992, after reports of serious side effects, including neurological and connective tissue disorders, FDA asked manufacturers to withdraw the silicone implants from the market (Ndlovu ). If other implants can have complications, VeriChip will definitely have the same or even more serious affect.

     There could also be difficulties and complications in removing once it is inside the body. The start up cost for the VeriChip is $200 each, however if more people were to have this implanted in their body the cost would decrease (Black).  But keep in mind that implanting something inside the body is not a one time process. There are hundreds of thousands of medical life-saving and enhancing devices surgically implanted into patient every year (Black).  But after insertion those devices often requires adjustment, repair, replacement, or recall (Black). Such possibilities of chip breaking or other complications should be taken into consideration in choosing such implant. All implantation have to be checked regularly and renewing at some point.  The cost for implanting may be affordable, but the cost for removing VeriChip is still unknown. Institute of Medicine Report found that implants commonly lead to other complications and the chance of experiencing a problem increases with time (Ndlovu).

     Being tagged and surveillance, people may feel like they have lost their privacy.  This would cause people to have negative perspective upon this technology because they are uncomfortable with the idea of being “watched”.  A scanner can read all the information about a person if they have a chip implanted.   

     Another concern is that there is always the possibility of hackers, VeriChip may be tamper proof but scanners are not.  In a way this technology would be aiding the process of identification theft, if hackers were able to get a hold of a scanner.  Without knowing, information can be quickly stolen. There have been reports that hackers were trying to hack into the Pentagon computers (Scheers). Pentagon officials say no classified computer systems have been preached but they fear that the attackers may have penetrated systems that could give access to classified systems (Scheers).   If the Pentagon computer system can be penetrated then any kind of computer or database could easily be hacked. Furthermore, VeriChip uses radio frequency, at this frequency waves can easily be interrupted.  Hackers can also find a way to disrupt the radio frequency and the database read by the scanner.  With so many flaws, this technology should not be dependent upon.

     Implanting VeriChip would do more harm than good to our society.  In my opinion VeriChip should only be used under limited circumstances.  It may be a good idea to use it in prison, to help keep the prison system more organized.  Police can use this device to track dangerous criminals to ensure the safety of citizens.  Otherwise, VeriChip should not be use under any circumstances.  We still don’t know about the long-term effect of VeriChip once it is implanted in the body. VeriChip is also not a good way to prevent identification theft, since there are always way in which people can hack into the system to steal information. Since not everyone agrees with the use of VeriChip, it will not be a good form of identification.  For this VeriChip to work, hospitals and other places first have to have scanners available and agree to use such technology.  If no one uses it, then this technology has lost its value and usefulness.

     Further study of VeriChip should be done to get rid of all its flaws before actually allowing people to implant it inside their body. This chip contains many flaws, therefore it should be postpone until we reached a clearer understanding of its effect in human body. Our Identification system should be kept the same until then.





Work Cited


Black, Jane. “Roll Up Your Sleeves… for a chip implant”.  Updated March 22, 2002 .       Retrieve October 29, 2003 . <>


Leventhal, Michael. “Americans…They want Their National ID Chip Implant Now”.  Updated May 12, 2002 .  Retrieve October 29, 2003 . <>


Ndlovu, Dumi. “Silcone Breast Implants Do not cause Chronic Disease, but other complication Are of concerns”. Wired News.  Updated June 21, 1999 . Retrieve Oct.30, 2003. < ID=29679>


Scheers, Julia. “ID Chips Controversial Approval”. Wired News. Updated October 23, 2002 . Retrieve October 30, 2003 . <>


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Last modified: 06/07/04