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An angel under your skin

By imrdkl in Technology
Thu May 02, 2002 at 06:34:54 AM EST
Tags: Focus On... (all tags)
Focus On...

A digital identity can be assigned to most any given entity, including businesses, groups, and individuals. As mentioned in my previous article, a digital certificate may be assigned to an entity, then stored on a device, such as a PC, or mobile phone. The device is then used to represent the entity in an act of secure communication.

Recently, there's been some big news about a company which has developed a different sort of digital identity solution, which will bring the device, and the entity that it represents, much closer together.

Applied Digital Solutions (ADSX), a company in Palm Beach, Florida, is now poised to begin marketing their new VeriChip in the US. This after receiving an acknowledgement from the Food and Drug Administration that the VeriChip is not regulable under their authority. This acknowledgement was the last major hurdle which the company faced before they could begin.

The VeriChip is an human-implantable device, with an unique and immutable (like a certificate) identifier that can be used to identify its deployment location (thats you). The VeriChip, it should be noted, does not use an open standard to implement its communications protocol securely. They use an proprietary technique. Neither do these devices allow for an user-generated keypair foundation for secure communications, as a good identity infrastructure should.

ADSX claims that their VeriChip, when properly configured and installed, can make the implantee part of an infrastructure which might one day save his/her/its life - for example, if the case of kidnapping, or theft. In this article, I'll try to flesh out what they mean by that, and what these chips are, including a bit of historical background. You'll also get an overview on how they work. When finished, I hope the reader will have a better understanding about these chips, even if such information may not help you to decide whether you should accept an Digital Angel as your own, personal savior.

Before going further, I should say that there was a lot of confusion and no small amount of hype evident to me in the research I did for this article. If I looked hard enough, I think I might find articles which claim that these devices would teleport the implantee to safety, and not even bother with any form of radio communication at all. The fact of the matter is that, no matter what you hear, minituarization has not come quite that far. Not yet. But sadly, since Sept. 11, the motivation and drive from an increasing part of the population for universal recognition has become strong enough to change the focus from one of mild interest, to one of strong demand. Have a look at what I've found, therefore, with a skeptical eye, and an open mind.

Digital Angels in the news

As mentioned, the legal hurdles have been removed now for these chips to go on sale in the US. In other countries, where regulation and approval processes are less stringent, they've been on sale for some time. A few days ago, ADSX signed an certified non-exclusive distributor, agreement with the Speko Corporation in Mexico City, for example. While Speko has quotas to meet, both companies appear to be looking forward to a profitable relationship.

And there do appear to be lots of potential customers, indeed. TV Personalities, scientists, families, companies and executives, and even whole communities are saying, Give us our ID chips right now!. I wonder if these folks really know what they're getting, or even what they're asking for... however, before we pull out our collective scalpals, torches, and pitchforks and begin hunting down these modern day Frankensteins, lets take an honest look at how these chips have developed, and more importantly, where they hope to go in the next few years.

Some historical background on implanted devices

Getting chipped with a device like this is nothing new, at least not for animals. For some years now, people have been installing these types of devices into their pets, as a permanent form of identification that won't fall off like a collar or tag. The claim is that many pets have been saved from euthanasia and other worse fates, because of this innovation. Other implementations include chipping livestock herds. Chips provide a form of identification that is much less stressful and risky than standard eartags, or branding, albeit not human-readable, and requiring relatively close-up scan of the appropriate area on the animals body to receive the information. Zoos all over the world are also using this type of chip in exhibited animals.

In any case, the key thing to note about the current uses for these chips is that their primary limitation has always been the distance from which they can be read by their companion scanners. Distances vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and from chip to chip, but the implanted models, at least, are still quite limited in range. Especially those chips that are passively driven, like the VeriChip.

ADSX however, wants us to believe that they've solved this problem, or at least that they're working on it. Their latest press release from April 26, predicts a subdermal GPS-capable chip within seven (7) months. Perhaps. For now, lets consider the VeriChip as it exists today.

The VeriChip has patent id number 5629678. This patent was issued in 1997 to four individuals, including the retired policeman who dreamt up the idea in the first place. The description given for the device in the patent application is Personal tracking and recovery system, and the application includes details on the various modes of operation and activation which were envisioned. The current release of the VeriChip operates in a passive mode, requiring a scanner to be passed near the skin-area where the VeriChip has been implanted, to activate it, and read its information via low-power radio transmission. ADSX acquired this patent in 1999, and dubbed the device the Digital Angel.

ADSX has also been actively acquiring other companies which hold patents and produce devices of this type, including Destron Fearing, a maker of chips for livestock and pets. A major competitor, not yet acquired by ADSX, is named Trovan. Trovan also makes animal chips, and holds numerous patents on this type of technology.

There was another interesting patent for this type of device issued in 1997, which was applied-for just a few short months after the VeriChip patent was applied-for. This patent has id number 5638832 and its description is Programmable subcutaneous visible implant. The patent was issued to the Interval Research Corporation, an innovative think tank co-founded and largely funded by Paul Allen, who is also well known as a Microsoft cofounder. It is unclear, from my limited research, whether Interval Research is directly involved with ADSX, however, ADSX and its subsidiary Digital Angel have already signed agreements with Microsoft, related to mapping and location software sold by Microsoft, called MapPoint. This patent application also delves extensively into the prior art surrounding these devices, and is worth a look.

Functional overview of implanted chips

The VeriChip, and other similar devices being marketed by Trovan and Destron Fearing (see links above) are all about the size of a grain of rice - about a centimeter long, and one or two millimeters thick, on average. Each of them is designed to fit into a large-bore needle, for implantation, so thickness is relatively uniform. The VeriChip itself is made from out of "FDA-accepted" materials, and all are hermetically sealed, and inert in the presence of biological tissue. As previously mentioned, each of these chips carries, as its primary data, a single unique identifier or code. Any given manufacturer of these devices will be using an identifier long enough to assign to as many customers as they might hope for. The Trovan devices, for example, have a 39-bit identifier, which allows them to create some 550 billion of the devices with unique codes.

Each VeriChip also implements an RFID (radio frequency identification device), to transmit the unique identifier to the proprietary scanning device. They each include an 1mm antennae, and a radio activated power source which is actived by the scanner.

The configuration procedure is dead simple. Purchase the chip from an authorized reseller, and also deliver data to an authorized data storage provider, such as Digital Angel. Naturally, the data should correspond to the implantee. The data storage provider is responsible for escrow storage of the data, and delivers it to valid requestors who have provided the unique number which is stored in, and transmitted from the chip.

The installation process comes next, after the data has been loaded and configured at the escrow. One takes the device to an appropriate medical professional, who then uses a large-bore needle to complete the installation subcutaneously. The installation site is monitored closely for some days or weeks afterwards, to insure a peaceful coexistence in its new deployment facility.

Operation is thereafter quite painless and invisible. The unique number is received by a scanner which is tuned and configured to activate the chip, and receive on the frequency that the chip broadcasts upon. The operator of the receiver may then attempt to fetch the implantees escrow data with the unique number. If the operator is valid and authorized with the escrow, the data will be delivered successfully.

Some concerns

Although it appears that the transmission distance problem is being dealt with, the larger concern with these devices is security of the data. Not only the data which is stored in the device, but also the escrow data which is made available to the approved requestor.

It would be unwise to assume that the escrow data storage provider would be as concerned about the security and reliability of the data provided to it, as the owner of the data might be. Furthermore, the proprietary transmission protocols used to activate and query the chip may not be as secure as the manufacturer would like the purchaser to believe, which might lead to "after market" scanners which could query a chip, without being held by an approved requestor. Additionally, if the rumours are true, and ADSX does deliver an fully implantable chip which tracks location of the owner via GPS, then I suppose there might be no place left to hide, eh?

In conclusion, and in keeping with the Digital Identity theme of this article, I submit that such a device should never be accepted by anyone. Not before they can make it secure, and guarantee the privacy and control of the implantee. To be fair however, I note that the patent application for the VeriChip does, in fact, discuss means of actively controlling the IO channel built in to it. They discuss voice activation, for example. Of course, this still does nothing to protect the communication protocol, or the data. Only encryption and possibly single-use keys will provide the level of security which should be demanded by any liberty-loving deployment facility.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Not before
o tomorrow. It's late. 2%
o GPS capability 0%
o User control of transmission 4%
o encryption and selective data storage/retrieval 1%
o miniaturization advances a long ways 0%
o C and D 6%
o B, C, D and E 9%
o they inject into my cold, rotting corpse 74%

Votes: 112
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o previous article
o big news
o Applied Digital Solutions
o begin marketing
o VeriChip
o acknowledg ement
o kidnapping
o Digital Angel
o savior
o certified non-exclusive distributor
o TV Personalities
o scientists
o families
o companies and executives
o whole communities
o Give us our ID chips right now!
o into their pets
o worse fates
o press release
o 5629678
o dreamt up the idea
o Destron Fearing
o Trovan
o 5638832
o Interval Research Corporation
o mapping and location
o fit into a large-bore needle
o 39-bit identifier
o Also by imrdkl

Display: Sort:
An angel under your skin | 52 comments (41 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
applications (5.00 / 2) (#7)
by ucblockhead on Wed May 01, 2002 at 07:22:19 PM EST

People who want one of these need to think this through carefully. The reason it works so well for pets is because the pets it helps return to their owners are lost, not stolen. In other words, no person wants them gone. They are protecting against the fact that animals cannot speak, and cannot say who their owners are.

These things won't help at all for kidnapping. After all, if you have been kidnapped, it stands to reason that your kidnappers won't allow you anywhere near a scanner. So until the range of these things is measured in miles, what's the point?

At best, it helps identify the body...but even then, anyone thinking of undergoing this needs to look long at hard at the text in the patent description: "programmable subcutaneous visible implant". That's right, folks, the badies can see that it's there, and you can bet that nearly anyone willing to kidnap someone would be quite willing to do a little switchblade surgery.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

The point (none / 0) (#10)
by theantix on Wed May 01, 2002 at 07:29:39 PM EST

These things won't help at all for kidnapping. After all, if you have been kidnapped, it stands to reason that your kidnappers won't allow you anywhere near a scanner. So until the range of these things is measured in miles, what's the point?

I suppose the point would be to install the scanners at points of transit, such as airports and border crossings.  It would at the very least make life more difficult for kidnappers.

However, that doesn't address your point about switchblade surgery to remove the transmitter.  

You sir, are worse than Hitler!
[ Parent ]

The marketing (5.00 / 2) (#19)
by rusty on Thu May 02, 2002 at 12:38:06 AM EST

Whatever the point may be, I bet the marketing is going to run along the lines of medical professionals scanning an unconscious patient andbeing alerted to an allergy to penicillin, thereby heroically saving a life in the wake of 9/11 (that had to be in there somewhere).

On the face of it, this sounds like a fine idea. But imrdkl points out the major flaws with it, which are that once you're uniquely identified, you have no way to be sure what information is tied to your record, and who it's accessable to. How long before the CIA cuts a deal with "Digital Angel" to turn over the list of unique IDs? It's for National Security, after all...

You won't be seeing me with one of these anytime soon, I can tell you that.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Medical Details (4.00 / 1) (#25)
by Cloaked User on Thu May 02, 2002 at 06:26:23 AM EST

I don't know about the US, but here in the UK you can get "SOS" bracelets and lockets, etc, designed with this very application in mind.

The ones I've seen come with an attached container/capsule into which you can place a piece of paper giving brief details of any medical conditons you have, and any drugs that you are allergic to. In the event of an emergency, medical staff can very quickly check for one.

Completely non-invasive, no potential civil liberty problems, and almost certainly a good deal cheaper.


"What the fuck do you mean 'Are you inspired to come to work'? Of course I'm not 'inspired'. It's a job for God's sake! The money's enough and the work's not so crap that I leave."
[ Parent ]

Medic-alert (none / 0) (#26)
by wiredog on Thu May 02, 2002 at 07:54:04 AM EST

We have those in the US. Bracelets or necklaces with dog-tag looking things hanging on them that have "diabetes" or "penecillin allergic" on them.

And my Army dog tag, which I still have on a keyring, has my blood type on it.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]

Yup (none / 0) (#31)
by rusty on Thu May 02, 2002 at 04:45:26 PM EST

Of course I forgot to emntion this in my comment, but yeah, the only good use I can see for this thing can easily be performed by totally non-intrusive existing devices. I suppose there's an argument to be had about the possibility of forgetting to wear your bracelet or something, but it hardly seems like the tiny benefit of not having to think about whether you have your medic-alert or not is worth the potential downside to a unique ID chip.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Just to note (none / 0) (#17)
by imrdkl on Wed May 01, 2002 at 08:33:21 PM EST

the VeriChip is completely subcutaneous when properly installed. The other patent you mention has relevance, especially in terms of programmability, and power supply, but the exterior component would make it less than desirable, when compared to the VeriChip. At least, that's my impression.

[ Parent ]
But it doesn't work for pets (none / 0) (#27)
by fraise on Thu May 02, 2002 at 08:25:52 AM EST

1. The chip can, and often does, move around under the animal's skin, causing discomfort and even pain. This could probably happen for humans too.

2. If your animal is lost, contrary to a visible ID tattoo, the person who finds it won't be able to tell if the animal has an owner or not, unless they take it to the vet and pay for it to be checked. Most people are happy to phone a vet about a tattooed animal whose number they can read without needing to catch it, but guess how many people are willing to try to catch an animal, transport it to a vet, and pay for it to be ID'd when it's not their own? This is the way it is in Europe, not sure if people have to pay for a lost animal to be ID'd in the US.

3. As you point out, it doesn't protect against animals being stolen - the chips can be erased easily (magnet...), and since it's invisible, noone's the wiser. The animal can be resold on the black market. (Happens all the time here in Europe.)

[ Parent ]
Yeah, that's just what I want (4.87 / 8) (#11)
by trhurler on Wed May 01, 2002 at 07:35:53 PM EST

I've been looking for a device that would strip away the last vestiges of privacy and anonymity from my life for so long, and now you have shown me the light! I too can be tagged like a dog, my every move and action logged for future reference.

No thanks. That whole "dignity" thing can be a bitch, I know, but I still prefer to keep mine.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Be One of the Herd(TM) (4.80 / 5) (#20)
by rusty on Thu May 02, 2002 at 12:40:02 AM EST

After all, this tiny and comfortable subcutaneous radio implant is far less distressing and invasive than regular branding!

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Asked this in the edit queue but (3.00 / 1) (#14)
by eviltwin on Wed May 01, 2002 at 07:57:07 PM EST

No answer so i'll ask it again.

What are the proposed uses of this technology - you mention tracking people/identifying bodies and sure in the current paraniod atmosphere in the states this might sell a few but surely there are other uses ?

Can the chips be reprogrammed ? used in new ways ? Removed ? Whats the effective lifespan of the chip / power source ?

All generalisations are false, including this one.

I saw the question (none / 0) (#15)
by imrdkl on Wed May 01, 2002 at 08:07:05 PM EST

but the length was getting out of hand (and it's late here). Have a look at the links for the manufacturers Deston Fearing and Trovan, to start. Alot depends upon whether the device is passive, or active, as well. The patent mentioned, id# 5638832, is specifically for a (re)programmable device, although the reprogramming technique may require removal. However, I also found discussion which mentioned keeping histories and logs on the chip. The VeriChip, in it's current form, seems to be quite limited w.r.t. storage capacity, and is also the least informative (spec-wise) of the manufacturers.

[ Parent ]
Thank you (none / 0) (#16)
by eviltwin on Wed May 01, 2002 at 08:21:17 PM EST

Excellent article - and a pleasant response - i missed the bit about repogrammable.  this is an area that interests me a lot - i appreciate your response at what must be a late hour (10am here)

All generalisations are false, including this one.
[ Parent ]
Paul of the Beast (none / 0) (#18)
by rickward on Wed May 01, 2002 at 08:54:40 PM EST

Does anyone remember the other implantable ID chip from Florida? A guy invented a similar product, then publicly repudiated it because he saw its "Mark of the Beast" potential.

Did he sit on the patent, or did he sell/license to ADSX? I can't find the years-old story on google.

"Crack don't smoke itself." —Traditional

Dangit, don't use that wording! (none / 0) (#21)
by xriso on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:32:51 AM EST

"... Digital Angel as your own, personal savior."

While the people who would become fearful over this kind of statement are IMHO a bit too paranoid, please don't encourage them.
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)

Wording (none / 0) (#32)
by Cro Magnon on Thu May 02, 2002 at 04:50:47 PM EST

Digital Angel (Devil ?) chose its name. As far as I'm concerned it deserves whatever word-games we can think up.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
Problems (5.00 / 2) (#22)
by sk0tadi on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:34:22 AM EST

I foresee two problems with these
devices in relation to kidnapping:

1. They're the size of a grain of rice. Removal
with a sharp object wouldn't be that tough.
They could beat/threaten the location out
of the user, or, if there's a standard location
in the body for these things, just look there.

2. Absorbing radio waves. Place the victim in a
room lined with ferrite tiles or the like, and
this thing could be useless. These could help
at airports/train entrances and the like (if
scanners were standard in those places), however.

Even if they "solved" these problems, you're
not getting near me with a "large-bore needle".

Similarly... (none / 0) (#23)
by fluffy grue on Thu May 02, 2002 at 03:31:51 AM EST

It'd probably be a simple matter to fry the chip with an EMP. Just build a portable HERF gun out of everyday household items...
"#kuro5hin [is like] a daycare center [where] the babysitter had been viciously murdered." -- CaptainObvious (we
[ Parent ]
Once again this proves (none / 0) (#24)
by tombuck on Thu May 02, 2002 at 06:09:34 AM EST

what a scary world we live in.

On one side of the fence, this could be briliant for civil liberties. Image being able to walk around freely with computers doing the hard work of passport control and so on.

On the other, I don't trust the UK police, so I think I'd give it a miss.

Give me yer cash!

How is it good? (none / 0) (#30)
by joecool12321 on Thu May 02, 2002 at 04:39:39 PM EST

How in the world could this be good for civil liberties?


[ Parent ]

Civil Liberties Irrelevent - Money Rules! (none / 0) (#49)
by gonzojones on Fri May 10, 2002 at 09:52:34 PM EST

How in the world could this be good for civil liberties?

Civil liberties are unimportant in today's society. MONEY and POWER is what matters.

Remember...you WILL get chipped, or else you will be branded a terrorist and you will be hunted down because only people with something to hide are worried abut freedom and privacy.

[ Parent ]
I'm not taking one ever. (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by AgentGray on Thu May 02, 2002 at 10:30:50 AM EST

I'd rather choose death before I'd have to take one.

Don't think it'll happen?  Read the book of Revelations from the Bible.

Of course, I won't be here anyway when it comes down the pipe...

Which relevant verses? (none / 0) (#33)
by broken77 on Thu May 02, 2002 at 05:26:02 PM EST

I'd prefer not to read the entire book.

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

Revelations 15:16 (5.00 / 1) (#40)
by Kasreyn on Fri May 03, 2002 at 07:38:38 PM EST

"He [the Beast / Antichrist] also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name.

This calls for wisdom. If anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is [a] man's number. His number is 666."


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Oops, that's Rev 13:16. -nt (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by Kasreyn on Fri May 03, 2002 at 07:39:34 PM EST

Wish K5 had a freakin' edit function. =\

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Simple fix (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by rszasz on Wed May 08, 2002 at 08:59:33 PM EST

Put the implant into peoples left hand. Easy, no?

[ Parent ]
What is the context in Revelations? (none / 0) (#50)
by pikachoo on Sat May 11, 2002 at 11:22:02 PM EST

I assume it has something to do with greed and power. Any (non fanatical) links to the mark & number (666)?

[ Parent ]
Ok, I'll take a stab at 666... (none / 0) (#52)
by SaintPort on Wed May 29, 2002 at 10:20:53 AM EST

Some Christian scholars deduce that 777 is the number of God repeated 3 times as a trinity.  666 is the number of man repeated 3 times to represent a man proclaiming himself a god.

What I noticed was this...
1 Kings 10:14 "Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,"

...666 was the number of gold tribute to a king on the throne in Jerusalem.

Electronic commerce when empowered with biometrics will give enough power to truly control the masses, to control who can buy and sell.

Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

Are these digital angels (5.00 / 1) (#29)
by mami on Thu May 02, 2002 at 12:34:11 PM EST

approved by God ?

Yes (none / 0) (#34)
by Purple Walrus on Thu May 02, 2002 at 06:41:49 PM EST

by the digital god!

[ Parent ]
My God is for real (none / 0) (#36)
by mami on Fri May 03, 2002 at 12:50:42 PM EST

and not a some digital nothing manipulated by some ungodly humans, massaging the bits to their liking...

Ich bin kein Graskraftwerk (What's that anyway? Something digital? :-))

[ Parent ]

God wouldn't approve that (none / 0) (#43)
by sweetie on Wed May 08, 2002 at 01:36:42 AM EST

[ Parent ]
Unsurprising poll results (none / 0) (#35)
by Robert Hutchinson on Thu May 02, 2002 at 10:18:22 PM EST

However, I voted for "C and D." On the outside chance that I truly could have complete control over such an implant and its encryption, I might be willing. Then again, I don't think humanity is going to be able to avoid technology implantation indefinitely. Convenience, convenience, convenience, they cried . . .

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

Not frightened (4.50 / 2) (#37)
by awgsilyari on Fri May 03, 2002 at 01:09:56 PM EST

I will be pissed when someone tries to pass a law making it mandatory, but until that time what reason is there to be scared?

If you argue that the very existence of the device is a temptation for such legislation, then why aren't you scared of parole offices? Legislation could also be passed forcing us to report to the state once a week. The fact is, there is no such legislation.

Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com

Good for you (none / 0) (#39)
by imrdkl on Fri May 03, 2002 at 07:33:06 PM EST

neither are the Jacobs (the first chipped family). In fact, this press release might help to calm down anyone who did get a bit of a surprise out of this article.

[ Parent ]
No such law required (5.00 / 2) (#42)
by dennis on Sat May 04, 2002 at 06:54:28 PM EST

Of course it won't be mandatory. It will just be increasingly inconvenient to go without it. We already see that happening with other technologies. Want to get the best price for groceries? No problem, just use the special identity card with every purchase. Want to get through the airport in a reasonable amount of time? Easy, submit to a background check and retinal scan. Etc. After a while, the majority is going along, the minority is starting to feel like freaks, and then the state starts floating proposals to use it for drivers' licenses.

Parole officers are different because they don't scale. Every time a new surveillance technology comes along, someone makes an analogy like this. "The public face-identification cameras are no different than police carrying photos" - I've actually seen this argument. But it's not the same. You can't hire that many police officers. They can't carry that many photos. When you make surveillance radically cheaper, you make it possible to do qualitatively different things with it. Saying there's no difference is like saying there's no difference between a million dollars and ten dollars.

[ Parent ]

Don't f*ck with mother nature (1.50 / 2) (#44)
by sweetie on Wed May 08, 2002 at 01:39:29 AM EST

I'm sorry for such foul language but we all are going to die and when it's our time, it's our time. You need to go with the flow and deal with your fate. Cherish each day as it's your last.
"If god thinks he's doing me wrong , he'll strike his ass down with a lightning bolt!"
Have you been fucked with the wrong way? If so then post that Bitch or Dick to my Dick
But what's it really for? (none / 0) (#46)
by sparkles on Thu May 09, 2002 at 11:24:40 AM EST

Proprietary technology AND radio transmitters, and they're just going to use it as a sort of human lo-jack to locate and identify people who are kidnapped/dead and unidentified/lost and amnesiac? Bull.

First, from the description, it's not physically secure. If you can't reliably locate it, you can't use it. If you can reliably locate it, you can take it out. If, for some reason, I want to kidnap someone, I'll just cut theirs out and mail it to the newspapers or toss it in a dumpster, depending on my motives and goals. Or I could remove my own and then plant it in someone else before I murder them and dump their body, than collect on my life insurance through a co-conspirator. No matter how technically secure you make something, your first line of defense is physical. This is why ATMs are not made out of glass and tissue paper.

As far as identifying bodies that nobody has a reason to not want identified, there just isn't that great a chance that any given person is going to die and remain unidentified. Sure, it happens, but mostly to people on the fringes. Homeless people, prostitutes, and others who aren't exactly the target market for these things, anyway. Essentially, people without friends or dental work. Who, with no friends and no dental work, is going to have this?

No way are there actually funds to develop something like this without a business plan, and I can pretty much guarantee that that is not their business plan.

what's it really for? not lo-jack (none / 0) (#51)
by memerot2 on Mon May 20, 2002 at 02:57:47 PM EST

Do you hate waiting in line at supermarkets?  This is the first, crude step toward ending that.  There are plans to use rfid on all the items in grocery stores once the price goes down a hair more.  Combine that with a chip like this keyed to your credit card info, and boom, you walk out of the store, all the items are tallied and your card charged, no check out.

Not there yet of course.  The first applications are the fringe ones, and obviously this company is fearful of being labelled the 'mark of the beast' with their 'digital angel' label.  But picture my scenario above.  Fairly likely.  And straight out of Revelations.  I'm not Christian, but see what a huge burden that religion's teaching will be for this or a similar company to overcome to get them to the scenario above.  In fact I find it almost creepy that a book written so long ago would have such an accurate foretelling of something I see happening in our life times.  More ubiquitous than the credit card or atm card, and more convenient.  

Oh about cutting it out, etc. I'm sure the first security feature built in will be a body warmth sensor, with more complicated measures (bio-chemical monitoring, etc.) to follow.  Cut it out, the temp drops, it sends an alarm that it's been tampered with.  In the future maybe do good things like monitor vitals by sampling the blood, and maybe do intrusive things like tell your employer if thc shows up in your blood.  Nothing is totally secure, but these do offer a lot of options to increase security, more than fingerprints or retinal scans or any purely passive biometric system.  And they have absolutely unprecedented ability to remove privacy.  The threat is so severe that if I could think of a single time in my life when America chose privacy over convenience that I'd give them no chance, but given all the examples I've seen the country has always chosen convenience over anything else, so I should probably go buy some stock.  If i'm going to lose my privacy with everyone else... at least I could be one of the one's getting rich off it.

[ Parent ]

We're not ready. (5.00 / 1) (#47)
by Kasreyn on Fri May 10, 2002 at 01:22:26 AM EST

Once again, we've developed a technology before we're wise enough to use it properly.

A scientist friend of mine is continually puzzled by my opposition to such technologies. She thinks I'm some kind of Luddite, or moron, or both. I can't make her see that my problem is not with the technology, but with how it will be used. =\

Here are some nice steps to ponder:

1. Put chips in people in insane hospitals and prisons to track them.
2. Put chips in old people in nursing homes, and people in ICU's in hospitals, to monitor vital signs.
3. Put chips in people with restraining orders, to keep them from approaching whoever it is they stalk.
4. Put chips in all ex-convicts to "keep an eye" on them after their release (probably will be a law named after some rape+murdered child a la "Megan's Law" to make it palatable).
5. Put chips in ALL criminal offenders!
6. Give up all pretense and put chips in everyone.

Looks pretty slippery from up here at the top, doesn't it?

Again, if it were used wisely and benevolently, it would be a wonderful thing; it truly would be like having a guardian angel under your skin. But instead we'll see proprietary software, no public access to chip monitoring / implanting / frequencies (for fear of those EVIL, NAUGHTY HACKERS), and we'll see more scares that will "neccessitate" giving up just a few freedoms for safety... aww, cmon, you won't even know they're gone! Honest!



P.S. Re: step 4 above, things like "Megan's Law" really get my goat. I mean, if they did their time, they did their time. It should be a clean slate so they can start over and build a productive, law-abiding life. If we have ex-cons continuing to break the law, we need to look at WHY our rehabilitation system is failing, NOT how we can give them a stigma of criminality that will make it harder for them to get back into life.

"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
As mentioned (none / 0) (#48)
by imrdkl on Fri May 10, 2002 at 03:31:20 PM EST

the Jacobs family today (20020510were the first free americans to get chipped. See the local (Ft. Lauderdale) news report.

An angel under your skin | 52 comments (41 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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