The VeriChip implant consists of a microchip (an RFID or Radio Frequency Identification integrated circuit), a capacitor, and an antenna wrapped around a ferrite core. These components are sealed in a capsule of medical-grade glass which is then partially coated in a porous polypropylene substance called Biobond. Biobond encourages the formation of tissue within the body to prevent the implant from migrating or shifting location in the flesh.
The implant is injected into the flesh using a large-gauge hypodermic syringe known as a cannula. It is designed to remain permanently embedded under the skin.
VERICHIP FAQ - GENERAL
SECURITY AND PRIVACY
CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS
VeriChip implants are generally injected into the flesh of the triceps of the arm between the elbow and the shoulder. In some cases the implant is injected into the biceps muscle, between the elbow and wrist. (Sean Darks of CityWatcher apparently had the Verichip implanted in the biceps.)
Hobbyists who have chipped themselves typically choose to insert chips into their hands. As Amal Graafstra, one of the first do-it-yourself chippers put it, "It's a lot easier to open your door or unlock your car by waving your hand rather than by wiggling your bicep."
At present, the VeriChip implant device contains only a unique 16-digit identification number. This number is similar to a social security number that can be used to call up a record in a database.
A passive RFID device requires power from the reader in order to function. This is in contrast to an "active" RFID device which contains its own power source, typically a battery. Active RFID tags have a longer read range than do passive tags.
Q: What is the read range on a VeriChip?
The read range on a VeriChip implant is about 6 to 18 inches when a handheld scanner is used. This means the scanner must be brought within 6" to 18" of the chipped body part in order to read the VeriChip and capture its information. When a larger antenna is used, such as a doorway portal application, the read range can be expanded to around 3 feet.
If a VeriChip is subjected to a strong electromagnetic current
it may cease to function. According to one researcher, a VeriChip that
has gone through an MRI scan may no longer function.
Yes. 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).
The letter spelling out these risks can be found here:
MRI incompatibility is perhaps the most serious issue identified by the FDA. An MRI machine uses powerful magnetic fields coupled with pulsed radio frequency (RF) fields. 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."
Yes, the MedicAlert bracelet has been serving the medical information needs of the public for over 50 years. It is a non-invasive metal bracelet that allows patients to communicate medical conditions to emergency room and medical personnel in the event of an emergency.
MedicAlert has partnered with the Alzheimer's Foundation of America to develop a special teal-colored bracelet that specifically addresses the needs of Alzheimer's patients. The MedicAlert bracelet communicates vital medical information and identifies a patient in a wandering incident. The bracelet solution is not invasive and eliminates the need to implant anything into the body.
Apparently it is not as easy to remove an implant as the VeriChip company claims. CNN reporter Robyn Curnow, who was implanted with a VeriChip in 2005 and later had it removed, writes:
Maybe not. Because the VeriChip implant contains no medical information about the patient, only a 16-digit ID number, a medical technician must log onto the Internet to access a patient's record. During or immediately after a natural or man-made disaster such as a hurricane, earthquake, tornado, or terrorist incident, the Internet may be inaccessible at the very time when medical records would most be needed.
The VeriChip Corporation acknowledges this problem, and expresses concern that the company may be sued if patients cannot access their data, stating: "the database may not function properly if certain necessary third-party systems fail, or if some other unforeseen act or natural disaster should occur. In the past, we have experienced short periods during which the database was inaccessible..."
It appears that relying on a VeriChip implant to transmit sensitive medical information during or immediately after a natural disaster could be a risky proposition.
Here it is in the company's own words. The following excerpt comes From VeriChip's SEC statement, dated February 9, 2007:
Source: p. 23 of the VeriChip SEC statement dated February 9, 2007.
Yes, with a network of local readers the VeriChip could be used to monitor an individual's whereabouts. Even though the implant has a relatively short read range, readers could be placed in strategic locations to identify chipped people as they pass by. VeriChip has developed doorway readers specifically for this purpose.
We are aware of two cases where workers were chipped in order to perform their jobs. In 2004, the office of the Attorney General of Mexico chipped 18 of its workers (not 160 as was widely reported) and required that they use the chips to gain access to a secure records room.
In 2006, a video surveillance company called City Watcher (which has since closed) implanted two of its workers for the same reason.
To the best of our knowledge, no sitting member of the United States government has seriously suggested chipping members of the public. However, at least two high-ranking government-related individuals have discussed chipping, and that's cause for concern.
The first is Tommy Thompson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services and 2008 presidential candidate. Thompson was a member of the board of directors of VeriChip until March 2007, and was in charge of the FDA when it approved the VeriChip for medical purposes in 2004. In public appearances, Thompson has suggested injecting microchips into Americans to link to their electronic medical records. "It's very beneficial and it's going to be extremely helpful and it's a giant step forward to getting what we call an electronic medical record for all Americans," he told CBS MarketWatch in July 2005.
A transcript of Thompson's entire CBS MarketWatch interview is
A writeup of Thompson's chipping statements is available at
The second government official to discuss chipping is U.S. Senator Joe Biden, who made this unnerving comment to Justice John Roberts during his Supreme Court Confirmation hearings on September 12, 2005:
Sen. Biden got it wrong, however. The antenna on a "microscopic tag" could not be used to track anyone, given the extremely short read range such a device would have.
Whether or not he intends to chip the Colombian people, Colombian president Alvaro Uribe is at least comfortable with the idea. According to testimony by U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, Uribe offered to microchip Colombian guest workers as they leave Colombia to work in the United States. Here are Specter's comments from the U.S. Congressional Record:
Source: US Congressional Record, April 25, 2006 (Senate), Page S3494-S3498, DOCID:cr25ap06-224
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
Colombian citizens were rightly upset at these comments. Perhaps out of political self-preservation, Uribe later refused to confirm the statements.
It should be noted that Sen. Specter did not reject the idea of human chipping on humanitarian grounds, but for a more practical reason -- he apparently wants the chips to be permanent rather than removable.
Probably not. We are not specialists in finding implants in people and have never done so.
It should be noted that an implanted VeriChip has no ability to control a person's thoughts, movements, or physical state, nor can it emit, record, or transmit sounds. Since the read range of a VeriChip is just 6"-18" or 3' at most, it cannot be accessed remotely.
An X-ray would reveal the presence of an implanted VeriChip device (as can be seen from Amal Graafstra's X-ray online here: http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/mar07/inthisissue). However, we are not aware of people being implanted with microchips without their knowledge or against their will and would prefer not to be contacted with such inquiries.
For more on this topic, please read these Spychips.com blog entries:
Feeling like you're being watched: http://www.spychips.com/blog/2006/09/the_feeling_of_being_watched.html
To the best of our knowledge no one has been implanted with a VeriChip implant or other tracking or monitoring device against their will.
A VeriChip implant would be useless for deterring crime, since its read range is only a few inches. But even if implants could be used to remotely identify and track people, society should still not use them for that purpose.
The following blog entry written by CASPIAN founder Katherine Albrecht helps explain why:
SECURITY AND PRIVACY
Yes, there are serious privacy concerns associated with remotely-readable microchip implants, including the risk that the implant could be surreptitiously used for tracking purposes through a network of local readers.
Although the VeriChip does not contain an individual's name, it does contain a unique ID number that can be easily matched to the person. If every time Joe Smith appears, the number #1234567 also appears on a scanner, it can be deduced that #1234567 means "Joe Smith." When #1234567 is later seen at a different location, it means Joe Smith just passed by.
The data on a VeriChip implant is not secure. Because a VeriChip ID number is transmitted through the air via radio waves, it can be easily picked up by anyone who holds a reader device within a few inches of the chipped individual. From there it is a simple matter to clone the signal. Two separate security researchers, Jonathan Westhues (in 2006) and Adam Laurie (in 2007), have demonstrated this ability in public.
Westhues explains how its done here:
Our press release on Westhues' VeriChip hack can be found here:
We saw it with our own eyes here:
Infoworld wrote about Adam Laurie VeriChip cloning demonstration
"Compromised information security" was one of the risks the FDA named in relation to the VeriChip. To understand why it's not a good idea to beam out a unique ID number, it's helpful to think of the social security number (SSN). You wouldn't print your SSN across the front of your T-shirt because it can be used to access personal information about you. You would not want a VeriChip implant beaming out a unique personal ID number for the same reason.
Criminals or stalkers wouldn't need to access VeriChip's database of information associated with an implant number. They could simply skim people's VeriChip ID numbers and create their own databases of information about the chipped individuals.
No. The VeriChip system is not an "eye in the sky" that can remotely pinpoint someone's location. The read range on a VeriChip implant is only about six to eighteen inches, so a scanner would have to be very close to a chipped person to read his or her implanted chip. Not only could a VeriChip not be scanned from a satellite, it couldn't even be scanned from across a room. It could, however, be read by scanners placed in doorways as chipped people pass through.
A microchip implant can help recover a pet if — and only if — the pet winds up at an animal shelter or a veterinarian's office. When shelter staff members see the stray animal without a collar, they run an RFID reader over its flesh to look for a microchip implant. If the pet has been chipped, the implant will emit a 10-digit code that can be looked up in a registry to identify and contact the owner.
In order to read an RFID implant, the reader has to be brought very close to the person. Hikers lost in the woods or captured soldiers, on the other hand, would not be scanned by anyone, so their implant would be of no use whatsoever.
CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS
Q. Have lawmakers taken steps to protect the public?
Yes. Two states, Wisconson and North Dakota, now have laws prohibiting the forced implantation of microchips in humans. Several other states, including Ohio, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Florida, have similar legislation pending.
At the time of their IPO in early 2007, the VeriChip Corporation revealed that only 222 people in the United States had been implanted with a VeriChip device. The company claims that "several thousand" people have been implanted elsewhere in the world.
Many Christians believe that the VeriChip closely resembles or presages the "mark of the beast" described in Revelation, the last book of the Bible. The biblical passage describing the mark of the beast reads as follows:
The Bible describes what will happen to people who take the mark of the beast and worship the beast or the image of the beast, and describes rewards for those who refuse to do so:
Physical Punishment: A painful sore will afflict the marked individuals
Spiritual Punishment - Marked individuals will receive the wrath of God
The Bible also speaks of rewards for those who refuse to take the mark of the beast.
Yes. The Baja Beach Club, a nightclub in Barcelona Spain and in Rotterdam, Holland, implants patrons with VeriChip devices and links them with pre-paid accounts to pay for drinks.
Conrad Chase of Baja Beach Club indicated an interest in doing a pilot of an implant-based credit card, saying:
"We are in negotiations with a major manufacturer of credit cards and we would like to do a pilot system—a test system—actually using it as a credit card where you could pay with your credit card having it implanted under your skin."
Source: Drew Hemment video interview of Baja Beach Club principal Conrad Chase, June 19, 2004.
Many Conservative and Orthodox Jews believe that cutting, piercing, or marking the flesh is contrary to B'tzelem Elokim, the notion that people were made "in the image of God," and therefore their bodies should not be altered.
Implanting a microchip may also invoke the Jewish prohibition against tattooing and other body marking that stems from the following Torah passage: "You shall not make gashes in your flesh for the dead, or incise any marks on yourselves: I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:28).
This prohibition is widely observed in Orthodox and Conservative Jewish communities. The Conservative Jewish Solomon Schechter High School of Westchester, NY, for example, prohibits students from receiving either piercings or tattoos, stating: "Other than piercing to female ears, all other noticeable piercing of the body are prohibited. Additionally, tattoos or other permanent marks made on the body are prohibited." The school's student handbook explains that "These rules are based upon the modesty, respect, and dignity accorded the human body by halacha (Jewish law) deriving from the belief that all men and women are created B'tzelem Elokim, 'in the image of God.'" Presumably, these communities would also frown on body modification through microchip implants.
Source: Solomon Schechter High School Student-Parent Handbook 2005-2006 http://www.solomon-schechter.com/HS%20Handbook%2005-06.pdf
Another Jewish publication describes the issue as follows: