VeriChip Wants To Test Human-Implantable RFID On Military

The amount of information on the chip would be up to the military sponsors and could range from basic name and serial number to more advanced medical data.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center states that "the ability to track people, products, vehicles, and even currency would create an Orwellian world where law enforcement officials and nosy retailers could read the contents of a handbag—perhaps without a person's knowledge—simply by installing RFID readers nearby."

"Such a fear is not unfounded. Currently, some RFID readers have the capacity to read data transmitted by many different RFID tags," the organization states on its Web site. "This means that if a person enters a store carrying several RFID tags—for example, in articles of clothing or cards carried in a wallet—one RFID reader can read the data emitted by all of the tags, and not simply the signal relayed by in-store products. This capacity enables retailers with RFID readers to compile a more complete profile of shoppers than would be possible by simply scanning the bar codes of products a consumer purchases."

Some people have claimed to clone implants, saying that demonstrates how vulnerable they are, but Philbin said they are impossible to clone.

"The company can't verify what hackers claim they can or cannot do," she said.

Joe Davis, spokesperson for the Veterans of Foreign Wars office in Washington, D.C., said although it makes great sense to be able to scan a device and pull up a full medical history, he would like to see further study before the military uses the implants. He said his initial concerns include possible health effects, whether enemies could access soldiers' information and whether the implants would replace dog tags, and, if so, stand up to an explosion.

"They issue two dog tags," he said. "One goes around the neck and the other is laced into the boot. The foot and boot will survive an explosion. DNA from the foot in the boot will survive, plus you've got your metal dog tag right there. What type of survival rate does this little chip have in an explosion? From what I've read, it sounds like they're trying to push this thing through. You don't push things through when it's new technology. You have to weigh all the pros and cons, and you have to ask the service members 'What do you think of this?' because it's going in their neck, or wherever it's going to go, and this proposal needs lot more study."

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing