Saturday, August 06, 2005

Former U.S. Health Secretary advocates RFID implants in humans

Although this may sound like science fiction, it apparently is not: President Bush's former health secretary Tommy Thompson is reportedly advocating that U.S. citizens should have a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip inserted under their skin, Dallas, Texas based website RedNova reports. (See also the discussion at Slashdot.)

According to the report, the RFID capsules would be linked to a computerised database being created by the U.S. Department of Health to store and manage the nation's health records. Thompson, who plans to have a chip implanted himself in the next weeks, believes the capsules could help save thousands of lives every year.

Examples given include paramedics being able to access patients' medical records when they have lost consciousness following an accident, or being able to prevent people with allergies or adverse reactions to certain medicines from being given wrong medication.

The company VeriChip, which produces such chips, is much in favour of the plan, with its spokesman John Procter saying that around 98,000 people die needlessly in the US every year after being given inappropriate treatment because their medical history was not available. He concludes: “In fact, virtually everyone could benefit from having a chip inserted.”

So far, RFID chips have primarily been used for implantation in livestock, but implanting them in humans would mean that there is no need to issue them with ID cards any more. Wouldn't that be a nice solution to a controversial political issue, both in the U.S. and the UK? Sorry if I sound slightly sarcastic…

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure it should be mentioned that Tommy Thompson is now a director of Applied Digital Solutions, the company that makes such chips. Honni soit qui mal y pense.


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