Focusing public attention on emerging privacy and civil liberties issues

Verichip

Top News

FDA Privacy Warning: Donna-Bea Tillman, Director, Office of Device Evaluation, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, was quoted in the Privacy Times (Vol. 24 Number 19, Oct. 20, 2004) as saying that:

"...by agreeing to have chip implanted, the understanding would be that a patient has tacitly agreed to make information [stored in the VeriChip] available to someone with a reader," she said, adding that the potential for unauthorized medical records access "is an issue."

Introduction

The VeriChip Personal Identification System is a small radio frequency identification device (RFID) that is implanted into the human body. VeriChip raises the same privacy issues as RFID tags.

VeriChip is marketed as a universal means of identification, intended for use in a variety of settings, including financial and transportation security, residential and commercial building access, and military and government security. For an initial "chipping" fee, as well as a monthly $9.95 subscription fee, customers' arms are implanted with a glass chip about the size of a grain of rice, containing a unique verification number. When activated by a VeriChip scanner, that number is emitted by a small radio frequency, providing instant access to information logged in the Global VeriChip Subscriber (GVS) Registry.

On October 12, 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved VeriChip for medical applications in the United States. The approval will allow VeriChip to be used to confirm identity, and check the blood type, potential allergies and medical history of unconscious patients. The device is subject to Class II special controls to mitigate potential risks identified by the FDA, which include adverse tissue reaction, electromagnetic interference, and magnetic resonance imaging incompatibility.

  • Process: How VeriChip Works , VeriChip Corporation.
  • Letter from Donna Bea-Tillman, Phd., Director, Office of Device Evaluation, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, to James Santelli, Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Office, Digital Angel Corporation 1 (October 12, 2004).

In March 2004, a nightclub in Barcelona began using VeriChip as a sort of embedded VIP card for its customers. Patrons of the Baja Beach Club can pay 125 Euros to have the chip implanted, then use it to bypass entry lines and keep track of bar tabs.

Planned future uses for VeriChip include a variety of financial, security, defense, homeland security and secure-access applications. ASDX sees its product as "tamper-proof personal identification" for use in credit card and ATM access, airport security, and port congestion management, as well as admission to military bases, government installations, and private-sector buildings. The system is marketed as a stand-alone product or for use in conjunction with biometric devices. ASDX has started a marketing campaign under the slogan "Get Chipped", that includes a traveling van called the "ChipMobile".

VeriChip Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions, Inc (ASDX). According to a recent report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ASDX "focuses on a range of life enhancing, personal safeguard technologies, early warning alert systems, miniaturized power sources and security monitoring systems combined with the comprehensive data management services required to support them". ASDX customers include several federal agencies, such as Departments of Defense, Agriculture, and Justice, the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration and the United States Postal Service, as well as the insurance, utility, communications, and high tech industries.

News

Resources