From Steve Asher@3:800/432 to All on Sat May 20 21:50:53 2006
May 18, 2006
VERICHIP INJECTS ITSELF INTO IMMIGRATION DEBATE
Company Pushes RFID Implants for Immigrants, Guest Workers
Scott Silverman, Chairman of the Board of VeriChip Corporation, has
alarmed civil libertarians by promoting the company's subcutaneous
human tracking device as a way to identify immigrants and guest
workers. He appeared on the Fox News Channel earlier this week, the
morning after President Bush called for high-tech measures to clamp
down on Mexican immigrants.
Privacy advocates Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre are warning that
a government-sanctioned chipping program such as that suggested by
Silverman could quickly be expanded to include U.S. citizens, as well.
The VeriChip is a glass encapsulated Radio Frequency Identification
tag that is injected into the flesh to uniquely number and identify
people. The tag can be read silently and invisibly by radio waves from
up to a foot or more away, right through clothing. The highly
controversial device is also being marketed as a way to access secure
areas, link to medical records, and serve as a payment device when
associated with a credit card.
"Makers of VeriChip have been planning for this day. They've lost
millions of dollars trying to sell their invasive product to North
America, and now they see an opportunity in the desperation of the
people of Latin America," Albrecht observes.
VeriChip's Silverman bandied about the idea of chipping foreigners on
national television Tuesday, emboldened by the Bush Administration
call to know "who is in our country and why they are here." He told
Fox & Friends that the VeriChip could be used to register guest
workers, verify their identities as they cross the border, and "be
used for enforcement purposes at the employer level." He added, "We
have talked to many people in Washington about using it...."
Silverman is reportedly also planning to share his vision on CNBC's
Squawk Box if a slot opens up tomorrow (Friday) morning sometime
between 6 and 9 AM Eastern Time. He was originally scheduled to appear
on the show this morning, but technical problems at the Florida studio prevented his appearance.
The numbering and chipping of people seems like a plot from a
dystopian novel, but the company has gotten the buy-in from highly
placed current and former government officials, including Columbian
President Alvaro Uribe. He reportedly told Senator Arlen Specter (R-
PA) that he would consider having microchips implanted into Colombian
workers before they are permitted to enter the United States to work
on a seasonal basis.
"The mantra 'chip the foreigners' has little appeal once people
realize the company wants to stamp its 'electronic tattoo' into every
one of us," cautions McIntyre. "Electronically branding and tracking
visitors like cattle is VeriChip's excuse to get the government on
board. But if that happens, we'll all be in their sights."
Tommy Thompson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services joined
the board of VeriChip Corporation after leaving his Bush
administration cabinet post. Shortly thereafter, he went on national
television recommending that all Americans get chipped as a way to
link to their medical records. He also suggested the VeriChip could
replace military dog tags, and a spokesman boasted that the company
had been in talks with the Pentagon.
Privacy advocates warn that once people are numbered with a remotely
readable RFID tag like the VeriChip, they can be tracked. Once they
can be tracked, they can be monitored and controlled.
Albrecht and McIntyre, the authors of "Spychips: How Major
Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID"
believe the world's people will stand firm against chipping. "Our
country was founded on principles of freedom and liberty. We're
betting that the American people will see the end game and buck
VeriChip's attempts," said Albrecht. "We also believe the people of
Latin America will rise up in opposition once they read our book."
The Spanish language version of "Spychips" will be hitting shelves
across Latin America next month.