Implanting Immigrants

In International politics, International Trade, Laws & Regulation, New York City, Terrorism, US Politics on June 6, 2006 at 9:10 pm

Saturday's Houston Chronicle reported:

"A tiny microchip implanted just under the skin offers the best tamper-proof identity system for immigrant guest workers, says the head of a Florida-based company that has already implanted millions of the identity chips in household pets and livestock."

The article mentions that these radio frequency chips are installed in alzheimer's patients so that when this patient visits a hospital they haven't been to before, they are literally carrying their medical chart on them. This means, as the argument goes, that there's less chance that the patient misremembers what happened on the last visit to the doctor and therefore this will minimize complications. RFID chips are like scary-sized versions of the technology used in the UPC on your Juicy Juice so it can be scanned at the grocery store — limiting owner error by disallowing the clerk from ripping you off and pocketing the difference. (Note: those UPCs will convert to RFID soon and check the the 'History of RFID' in PDF.)

Couldn't I, in an extreme case, just walk around a retirement home with a hand scanner collecting personal info from elderly residents with Alzheimer's? Oh, this would only yield a 16-digit code which then must be matched with the company's medical database which, as we saw with ChoicePoint and beyond, these databases are absolutely insecure and prone to breaches. How can private companies, already proven incapable to protect patient privacy, be trusted to upload, download, and secure this type of information for medical patients, "guest workers" or anyone in general? Answer: They can not and should not be trusted.

Who else has been subjected to these RFID chips?

"The VeriChip has the capability to provide medical information in critical care situations such as Hurricane Katrina, where individuals requiring emergency care may not have access to their medical records. With the VeriChip's unique identification number, which can be scanned into a database, emergency medical personnel can gain immediate access to a patient's medical records… The County Medical Examiner's office in Lafayette County, MS, intends to store the VeriChips and scanners for future pending disaster relief and body identification assistance."

Am I the only one that reads this all to mean that undocumented immigrant workers, the elderly (presumably, largely without familial ties to help take care of them), and and those poor of the Gulf Coast who do not have the means to retrieve or reconstitute their medical history will be the first in line? And how can it be worth the money to install these chips into people in Lafayette County, MS unless they expect those people to be in a situation where they would not have family around them to identify them? It's almost as if there's some way to know who might be worst affected by a natural disaster… it's almost as if these people are being used as a test case… almost as if this experiment will be yielded useless unless the people with the new RFID chips don't die…

And how will this product make it to "market," besides simply exploiting the sick elderly and undocumented immigrants? Well, by developing the supply and then lobbying for the demand in Washington… Scott Silverman, the CEO of this Florida-based company (Applied Digital), personally donated at least $7,700 GOP electeds in the 2006 election cycle alone, including Bill Nelson (committees), Bob Bennett (committees), Orrin Hatch (recent release) and, everyone's favorite internal lobbyist, Bob Ney (no note needed). Check Silverman's 2006 rap sheet at opensecrets.

UPDATE: Australia will attach RFID to prison inmates.  Although they're not implanted, this is just a step down the slope…


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