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Credit card chips embedded into the human body


RFID chips implanted into the human body


Marina Ricci

Highlights

  • RFID chips in humans growing trend in US
  • Chip can be implanted in a doctor’s office under local anesthesia
  • Chips may reveal private information to the wrong eyes

RFID chips have been implanted into humans in the U.S. ever since the FDA approved the procedure four years ago, but only now has it become a growing trend with significant benefits. The chip’s ability to identify individuals in medical traumas and pinpoint allergies and detail medical history could prove to be a life-saving tool that could increase survival rates.

The half-inch chip can be implanted in a doctor’s office with a syringe under local anesthesia. Side effects don’t seem to be an issue and the chip itself is able to withstand strenuous physical activity in the body and can last up to 10 years without replacement. Before implantation the chip is coded with the individual’s personal information, including the allergies and prior treatments. Once scanned, the information would appear and provide the physician with the information needed for successful and efficient treatment. This would prove especially useful for people who have Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions that prevent verbal communication.

However, the benefits of RFID in the medical field are not without their downfalls. Having medical information stored on chips inside the body also means that anyone with an RFID reader, within a 30-60 foot distance, will be able to know the full medical history of an individual. This could become an issue when applying for new jobs, sick leave or applying for medical insurance. 

Though this is not true for all RFID chips, some cannot be read unless you are within six inches and even then, personal information can only be taken off of a closed circuit web site where the information is kept. Therefore, the benefits in this case may outweigh the risks and make it easier for employers to plan ahead but it could conflict with legally protected privacy issues. 

RFID has also become a useful tool in time management. Certain individuals have agreed to the chip being implanted into them in order to identify themselves as employees of certain organizations as they pass security clearance. These chips also have the capability of opening doors automatically and logging onto computer networks once identity is confirmed. 

Employees at VeriChip Corp., in Delray Beach, Fla., a firm that makes the chip, are the frontrunners of this trend. Internationally, in Mexico City, Mexico, workers at the organized crime division of Mexico’s Attorney General wear the chips for top security reasons. In Barcelona, Spain, and Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the atmosphere is a little lighter concerning the chips as they allow people to avoid long lines to enter exclusive clubs and even use them to pay for their drinks. At the end of the day, it is up to the public at large to balance their protected rights with the life saving benefits of having RFID encrypted with medical information.



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