Microchip implant (human)

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This article deals with human microchip implants. For use in animals, see Microchip implant (animal).

A human Microchip Implant is an integrated circuit device or RFID tag encased in silicate glass and implanted into a human's body. Such implants can be used for information storage, including personal identification, medical history, medications, allergies, and contact information.

Initial Trials

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).

Current uses

In 2004, the VeriChip Corporation received preliminary approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market its device in the U.S. within specific guidelines.[2] Since its approval, about 80 hospitals and 232 doctors have elected to use the system.[3]

By implanting such a chip with a patient's medical record, hospitals and emergency workers can immediately gain access to an ill or injured person's medical history regardless of location. Implanted chips are impossible to lose, which could reduce the chances of information theft. Homes and automobiles could be equipped with scanners for microchips, making house and car keys obsolete (although an RFID lock requires a working power source to function). Locks and ignition switches would only work for persons with an appropriately programmed chip.

Possible problems

If the microchips are completely unencrypted, they would be extremely vulnerable to hacker attacks and interception by third-party scanners. By scanning secretly, someone could steal all of the information on a chip and could clone the signal, possibly leading to criminal misuse of medical files and insurance information. For example, a patient's list of known allergies could be altered maliciously, causing injury or death, or his/her insurance could be copied for another unrelated person to use.[3]

According to the FDA, implantation of the chip itself poses some health concerns. A patient could react adversely to the chip itself by infection or allergy, or it could be implanted improperly. It could dislodge itself and move to a different part of the body than where it was first implanted. The implant could also fail on its own at any time, and the information contained in it could be lost.

More serious trauma could occur if the chip reacts to outside source, 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.[4]

Veterinary and toxicology studies carried out from 1996 to 2006 found that lab mice and rats injected with microchips sometimes developed subcutaneous sarcomas. Data suggests that up to 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.[5]

Future applications

Contrary to popular belief, a GPS-enabled chip, for GPS tracking of individuals, does not yet exist— mainly due to problems with power consumption and antenna performance. Many news sources and websites have confused implantable chips with wearable or portable tracking devices.

Theoretically, 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. VeriChip is one of the companies working on a GPS-capable chip.[6] Governments may use microchips for mass surveillance.[7]


Further reading

  • Haag, Stephen (2004). Management Information Systems for the Information Age (4th ed.). New York City, NY: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-281947-2. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (help)
  • Graafstra, Amal (2004). 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