Another bogus news story on chip implants

Reuters goofs here when they report that Mexican kidnapping victims who have been implanted with a chip can be tracked via satellite. This is a common error made in news reports on the RFID chips -that they can be tracked via GPS. In fact, later in the story the article says the "Xega" chips are similar to Verichips, while the Xega website displays actual Verichips . Verichips can only be read by a reader located a few feet away. Technically, with enough portal readers, you could "track" implantees a la Minority Report, but that's different from saying they can now be tracked via GPS.

While reporters should really start doing their homework on this issue -they've been making the same error for 7 years -the parent company of Verichip, Florida's Applied Digital Solutions, was instrumental in spreading the so far false notion that their chips can be tracked via GPS. They first announced that capability was part of the patent for one of their implants in 1999 and 2000. At an investor event in November 2000 in Manhattan (which I attended) they displayed live GPS tracking of a prototype on a large overhead screen. Later they revisited the notion by stating that they were again working on a GPS-trackable implant, while at various other times they have vehemently denied the idea.

The company itself has engendered controversy by:
* Stating that a McKinsey & Co. market research report estimated a $70 billion market in the U.S. alone for the chip
* Suggesting the implant replace green cards.
* Suggesting it be used for prisoners and parolees.

Some amusing side effects:
* Protesting the chip made odd bedfellows of the Black Radical Congress, ACLU, electronic privacy advocates and the "mark of the beast" gang.
* Gartner analysts began listing GPS implants as an "emerging technology."

Some not-so-funny stuff:
* A friend of mine who used to do classified undercover work for the US ('nuff said), says he was involved in the testing of GPS implants on FBI agents back in 1995. However, these implants were larger in size and attached to 10 inches of coated antenna wire. Backup was available in form of AWACS planes and briefcase monitors which could be carried into subways, etc. That testing was done here in the Springfield mall area. The intial results were impressive. "There was nothing they could do to get away," he said. However, in real life applications, the results were mixed -sometimes perfect tracking, sometimes inexplicable drops of signal. In any event, he opposed any commerical entity offering kidnapping protection, as he said no civilian should be trusted with handling that data. The CIA makes its agents with access to such data take regular polygraph tests for example. No civilian entity could have such high standards, in his opinion.


*One of my many articles on GPS implants

*Nathan Cochrane, then-deputy IT editor for Australia's The Age and Syndey Morning Herald, refers to my WND reporting on the chip in this Politechbot posting:

"WorldNetDaily (WND) broke the Digital Angel story. Its reporter was subsequently castigated by the company, allegedly for twisting a spokesman's words, but it appears the news service was on the money all along. WND has done
an excellent job of tracking this implant tracking company's machinations."
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