Chip or Not to Chip? Essay

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In 2006, 44-year-old William Koretsky was unconsciously taken to the hospital after he was in a serious car accident. An emergency room scanner revealed an implanted Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) chip in his arm. Doctors identified and reviewed Koretskys health history using an online database, to learn that he had type-one diabetes. Physicians quickly began monitoring his blood sugar level while treating his injuries. According to the 2006 EMBO report, Valeria Kaplan explained how RFID chip saved Koreskys life. Kaplan says: The RFID, intended for human implantation, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2004 to identify patients with chronic diseases (Kaplan). A CEJA Report Radio Frequency ID Devices in Humans by Robert Sade describes this device as a chip that utilizes wireless technology to communicate data via signals in the radio frequency range of the electromagnetic spectrum (Sade).

In May 2005, the Bushs administration signed The Real ID Act that standardizes the new drivers licenses and state ID cards to include a magnetic strip that contains an RFID tag (H.R.418). Two months later, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, suggested in his interview with the CBS news implanting the microchips into all American citizens by 2017. Thompson announced: It is my belief that VeriChip is an important and secure means of accessing medical records and other information (Grand). On January 11, 2008, about two and a half years after the passage of the REAL ID Act of 2005, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the final rule to implement the national identification system created under the Act. Section V.F.5, page 110 clarifies: Alternate technologies considered for the minimum standard included linear barcodes, contact smart-chips, optical stripe and contact-less chips (Real).

Unfortunately, government officials, who are promoting the RFID implants as safe and lifesaving are not aware of the myriad of problems associated with this disturbing and dangerous technology. There are many concerns regarding the FDA approval for the RFID human implant. While many people are under the impression that RFID is a lifesaving device, some studies prove that microchip implants have caused cancer in animals. In his article Chip Implants Linked to Animal Tumors posted in the Washington post September 8, 2007, Todd Lewan emphasizes the substantial danger to humans body can be caused by this devise. Lewan confirms: A series of veterinary and toxicology studies, dating to the mid-1990s, stated that chip implants had induced malignant tumors in some lab mice and rats.

Moreover, a research Tumors in Long-Term Rat Studies Associated with Microchip Animal Identification Devices conducted by Laura E. Elcock and colleagues, uncovers the truth that an early sacrifice of most affected animals, due to tumor size and occasional metastases. This study explains how animals had to be destroyed because the RFID implantation caused a huge tumor that spread into all parts of the animals body. It is obvious this mysterious chip might be the cause for potential irreversible damage to our health and end our right to live in a free society. It is unclear whether the FDA knew about the animal studies prior to approving the use of RFID implants for medical purposes in humans. Also unclear whether any special favors were granted during the approval process, and if accurate, independent testing was done on the device prior to the approval. In addition to the health care danger associated with the RFID implants, there are also serious privacy, legal, and ethical concerns.

In fact, identity related crimes may occur with this high-tech device. Enforcing human implants for identification is going to promote privacy concerns as individuals can be identified without their consent or awareness. It is hard to predict who may access personal data that is stored and gathered from such devices. It is easy to read the RFID device from a distance, without being swiped or scanned in order to reveal information. Unfortunately, this technology would allow hackers to steal personal information easily. Despite the fact that RFID implants have a short communication range, there is a high risk of misusing it for physical tracking of a person. Anyone with an RFID reader would be able to detect the implants and capture the stored information without the consent or even the awareness of the users.

Criminals would be able to track their victims and learn everything about their lifestyle in order to commit their crimes. There is a possible risk for physical harm initiated by attackers too as they attempt to remove the implant from their victims body. Also, unauthorized attackers may easily falsify users authorization to steal their identification and authentication to use their information. In addition, individuals would be harassed easily by stalkers and marketers. For example, customers could be scanned as they enter a store to identify them and reveal their personal information. Then, they would be approached by a sales person who knows their personal history to suggest accessories or other items. Therefore, even if it has been argued that RFID implants are appropriate to identify for people for medical use, they cannot provide secure identification regardless of any future development of technical security solutions.

The assurance that human implants are going to be in compliance with the government standards and regulations means that it is not only safe to use, but it is also legal. However, the fact that human implants are going to be in accordance with the government regulations does not necessarily mean it is ethically right. Implantation would create a new dilemma in the traditional world of humanity. It particularly involves the identity and consciousness of human beings. Tracking implants were not designed for identifying humans in a free society. In fact, they were designed to label merchandise and sometimes to mark animals. Using tracking implants for humans is going to turn every individual into a piece of inventory or a number, but not a human being. Also, it is going to destroy the bodily integrity and obstruct self-determination for individuals. Moreover, if not used fairly by authorities, RFID may be a threat to human dignity seen as disrespect for individuals autonomy and freedom.

Such dangers are already presented with individuals who were implanted with the device since regulations for the implant and access control has not put into practice. In February 2007, the VeriChip Corporation and Alzheimers Community Organization announced their plan to conduct a medical study involving implantation for 200 Alzheimers patients, a two-year experiment to study the effectiveness and the safety of the implants (Scanlan). It is unethical to use medical experimentation on Alzheimers patients who are mentally impaired and cannot dispute such unfair practices. In the United States, many medical facilities have embraced the RFID implant technology for patients identification. However, implanting the microchip into individuals for the purpose of acting as lifetime identifiers would create many legal concerns as it violates individuals constitutional rights. Human implants would allow government to know where everyone is at anytime based on the last location that registered by reading RFID and their credit cards usage.

This is an absolute violation of the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution of the individuals right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures (U.S.). A study at RFID Journal, RFID, Electronic Eavesdropping and the Law, written by Levary, Reuven, et al. clarifies The Wiretap Act (Title 18, section 2701, of the U.S. Code), that establish the regulations for accessing information and the consequences for violations. (Levary). This law specifies the act of the intentional access to electronic communication without authorization as a crime, and stipulates punishment by imprisonment or fine. Evidently, it is illegal for anyone to access electronic communication without obtaining proper consent, and they will be held in violation of the statute. Since the RFID technology is classified as electronic communication, it is rational to assume that it cannot be used to obtain and use information legally unless prior consent is given.

Therefore, the RFID technology and its implementation lead to violations of the citizens constitutional rights and it should not be approved for human identification. It is proficient to use technology to better our lives. It might sound like a great idea to chip our children to prevent kidnapping, chip the elderly to guard against Alzheimer disease, or chip unhealthy people to prevent medical mistakes. Government executives proclaim that RFID technology provides some benefits when used for identification processes, but it comes with high risks compared to these benefits.

The use of RFID would permit unauthorized control for our identification systems. Individuals will not be able to control when they are identified and what amount of information they share with others. Personal liberties would be jeopardized as people may be monitored unknowingly by hackers, businesses or the government. Finally, RFID would allow the creation of many new crimes by thieves, blackmailers and stalkers. Therefore, laws and regulations that require mandatory RFID implants must be repealed immediately, and enact laws that prevent it in order to protect our constitutional rights and privacy. In addition, the DHS must prohibit any usage of this technology for identifying or tracking individuals.

Works Cited
H.R.418 The Real ID Act- Bill Text Versions 109th Congress: 2005-2006. The Library of Congress -THOMAS. Web. 4 November 2011.
Hedbom, Hans. Andronikou, Vassiliki. A Study on ICT Implants: Future of Identity in the Information Society FIDIS Consortium. Ed. Kosta, Eleni and Gasson, Mark, September 2008. FIDIS_D12.6_v1.0.doc. Web. 20 October 2011. Kaplan, Valeria. Tagging products and people. EMBO reports (2006): p. 965 968.

doi:10.1038/sj.embor.7400810. web. 22 October 2011.
Levary, Reuven. et al. RFID, Electronic Eavesdropping and the Law. RFID Journal Feb. 14, 2005. RFID Expert views. web. 22 October 2011.
Real ID Final Rule Comprehensive Regulatory Evaluation of the benefits and costs
of the final minimum standards for State-issued drivers licenses and non-driver
identification cards pursuant to the REAL ID Act. (PDF, 205 Pages 943 KB)
U.S. Department of Homeland Security: 2008 Web. 5 November 2011. Scanlan, David A. Frequency Identification (RFID): An Orwellian 1984 Technology. Journal of Business and Behavior Science: Spring 2008. Web. 23 October 2011. Sade, Robert. Radio Frequency ID Devices in Humans CEJA Report of the Council on Ethical And Judicial Affairs: 2007. Web. 12 October 2011.

GrandChessBoeard. Tommy Thompson Taking the VeriChip Online Posting. YouTube, Dec. 22, 2006. web. 7 November 2011.
U.S. Constitution Amendment IV. Legal Information Institute. Cornel University Law
School. N.d. web. 7 November 2011.

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