WISCONSIN BANS FORCED HUMAN RFID CHIPPING
By Liz McIntyre & Katherine Albrecht
Civil libertarians cheered yesterday upon news that Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed a law making it a crime to require an individual to be implanted with a microchip. Activists and authors Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre joined the celebration, predicting this move will spell trouble for the VeriChip Corporation, maker of the VeriChip human microchip implant.
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.
"We're not even aware of anyone attempting to forcibly implant microchips into people," says Albrecht. "That lawmakers felt this legislation was necessary indicates a growing concern that the company's product could pose a serious threat to the public down the road."
Although the company emphasizes that its chip is strictly voluntary, recent statements suggest this could easily change. VeriChip Chairman of the Board Scott Silverman has been promoting the VeriChip as a partial solution to immigration concerns, proposing it as a way to register guest workers, verify their identities as they cross the border, and "be used for enforcement purposes at the employer level." He told interviewers on the Fox News Channel that the company has "talked to many people in Washington about using it."
The company has also confirmed it has been in talks with the Pentagon about replacing military dog tags with VeriChip implants.
Wisconsin's anti-human-chipping law comes at a particularly bad time for VeriChip Corporation because it has an initial public offering of its stock in the works, McIntyre observes. "The company has been losing millions of dollars and has been counting on public acceptance to stem its losses and prove its future. The people have spoken. They don't want RFID devices in their flesh, and we expect other states will join Wisconsin in prohibiting forced chipping."
Albrecht and McIntyre have dogged the VeriChip Corporation, revealing medical and security flaws in its human chip and warning about its serious privacy and civil liberties downsides in their book "Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID."
Wisconsin's new law was introduced as Assembly Bill 290 by Representative Marlin D. Schneider (D) and was passed unanimously by both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature this spring. The law makes it illegal to require an individual to have a microchip implant and subjects a violator to a fine of up to $10,000 per day.
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Liz McIntyre is a consumer privacy expert and author of Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track your Every Move with RFID. In this explosive book, McIntyre and co-author Katherine Albrecht reveal how organizations like Procter & Gamble, Gillette, Wal-Mart, and even the U.S. Postal Service plan to use tiny computer chips smaller than a grain of sand to track everyday objects-and even people-keeping tabs on everything you own and everywhere you go.
Katherine Albrecht is a privacy advocate and co-author of Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track your Every Move with RFID. Albrecht has testified on RFID technology before the Federal Trade Commission, the California state legislature, the European Commission, and the Federal Reserve Bank, and she has given over a thousand television, radio and print interviews to news outlets all over the world. Her efforts have been featured on CNN, NPR, the CBS Evening News, Business Week, and the London Times, to name just a few.
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Civil libertarians cheered yesterday upon news that Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed a law making it a crime to require an individual to be implanted with a microchip.