- At a global security conference held today in Paris,
an American company announced a new syringe-injectable microchip implant
for humans, designed to be used as a fraud-proof payment method for cash
and credit-card transactions.
- The chip implant is being presented as an advance over
credit cards and smart cards, which, absent biometrics and appropriate
safeguard technologies, are subject to theft, resulting in identity fraud.
- Identity fraud costs the banking and financial industry
some $48 billion a year, and consumers $5 billion, according to 2002 Federal
Trade Commission estimates.
- In his speech today at the <http://www.idworldonline.com/>ID
World 2003 conference in Paris, France, Scott R. Silverman, CEO of Applied
Digital Solutions, called the chip a "loss-proof solution" and
said that the chip's "unique under-the-skin format" could be
used for a variety of identification applications in the security and financial
- The company will have to compete, though, with organizations
using just a fingerprint scan for similar applications.
- The ID World Conference, held yesterday and today at
the Charles de Gaulle Hilton, focused on current and future applications
of radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies, biometrics, smart
cards and data collection.
- The company's various "VeriChips" are RFID
chips, which contain a unique identification number and can carry other
personal data about the implantee. When radio-frequency energy passes from
a scanner, it energizes the chip, which is passive (not independently powered),
and which then emits a radio-frequency signal transmitting the chip's information
to the reader, which in turn links with a database.
- ADS has previously touted its radio frequency identification
(RFID) chips for secure building access, computer access, storage of medical
records, anti-kidnapping initiatives and a variety of law-enforcement applications.
The company has also developed proprietary hand-held readers and <http://www.findmellc.com/verichip_portal.asp>portal
readers that can scan data when an implantee enters a building or room.
- The "cashless society" application is not new
it has been discussed previously by Applied Digital. Today's speech, however,
represented the first formal public announcement by the company of such
- In announcing VeriPay to ID World delegates, Silverman
stated the implant has "enormous marketplace potential" and invited
banking and credit companies to partner with VeriChip Corporation (a subsidiary
of ADS) in developing specific commercial applications beginning with pilot
programs and market tests.
- Applied Digital's announcement in Paris suggested wireless
technologies, RFID development, new software solutions, smart-card applications
and subdermal implants might one day merge as the ultimate solution for
a world fraught with identity theft, threatened by terrorism, buffeted
by cash-strapped governments and law-enforcement agencies looking for easy
data-collection, and corporations interested in the marketing bonanza that
cutting-edge identification, payment, and location-based technologies can
- Cashless payment systems are now part of a larger technology
development subset: government identification experiments that seek to
combine cashless payment applications with national ID information on media
(such as a "smart" card), which contain a whole host of government,
personal, employment and commercial data and applications on a single,
contactless RFID chip.
- In some scenarios, government-corporate coalitions are
advocating such a chip be used by employees also to access entry to their
workplace and the company computer network, reducing the cost outlay of
the corporations for individual ID cards.
- Malaysia's "MyKad" national ID "smart"
card is the foremost example.
- Meanwhile, privacy advocates have expressed concern over
RFID technology rollouts, citing database concerns and the specter of individuals'
RFID chips being read without permission by people who have their own hand-held
- Several privacy and civil liberties groups have recently
<http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/55/34109.html>called for a
voluntary moratorium on RFID tagging "until a formal technology assessment
process involving all stakeholders, including consumers, can take place."
Signatories to <http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/RFIDposition.htm>the
petition include the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Privacy International
and the Foundation for Information Policy Research, a British think tank.
- Commenting on today's announcement, <http://computerbytesman.com/biometrics/vccom.htm>Richard
Smith, a computer industry consultant, referred to what some "netizens"
are already calling "chipectomies": "VeriChips can still
be stolen. It's just a bit gruesome when to think how the crooks will do
these kinds of robberies."
- Citing MasterCard's <http://www.paypass.com/>PayPass,
Smith pointed out that most of the major credit-card companies are looking
at RFID chips to make credit cards quicker, easier, and safer to use.
- "The big problem is money," said Smith. "It
will take billions of dollars to upgrade the credit-card networks from
magstripe readers to RFID readers. During the transition, a credit card
is going to need both a magstripe and an RFID chip so that it is universally
- Some industry professionals advocate having citizens
pay for combined national ID/cashless pay chips, which would be embedded
in a chosen medium.
- Identification technologies using RFID can take a wide
variety of physical forms and show no sign yet of coalescing into a single
- Prior to today's announcement, Art Kranzley, senior vice
president at MasterCard, commented on the Pay Pass system in a USA Today
interview: "We're certainly looking at designs like key fobs. It could
be in a pen or a pair of earrings. Ultimately, it could be embedded in
anything someday, maybe even under the skin."
- <mailto:email@example.com>Sherrie Gossett is a Florida-based
researcher and writer, formerly with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and
a contributing reporter to WorldNetDaily.