Senator Charles Schumer, on December 6, 2006, said contracts for RFID “no-swipe” credit cards should have warning boxes disclosing “the known weaknesses of the technology.” In addition, he cautioned cardholders about the cards vulnerability to identity thieves, commenting you “may as well put your credit card information on a big sign on your back.”

Technically speaking these “No-swipe” or “contactless” credit cards contain RFID microchips that communicate account information silently and invisibly by radio waves thus their nickname, “spychips”. However, while Congress is just waking up to the dangers of RFID technology, civil liberties organizations like CASPIAN have been sounding the alarm for years. Addressing this issue was Dr. Katherine Albrecht, Founder and Director of CASPIAN (Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering) who stated that “It’s about time for Capitol Hill to recognize the dangers of RFID”. Then adding that “perhaps now members of Congress will listen to their concerned constituents and work to pass long overdue bipartisan RFID labeling legislation not only for credit cards, but other RFID-tagged consumer items as well.”

One such legislation, authored by Zoe Davidson of the Boston University Legislative Clinic, has already been proposed by CASPIAN and is labeled “The RFID Right to Know Act” which they have made available to federal lawmakers since 2003. (See http://www.spychips.com/right-to-know-bill.html.) However, CASPIANs main goal is to address consumer right to know legislation when the things they wear, carry, and interact with contain tracking devices.

It is not only CASPIAN, however, who is sounding the alarm. M. McIntyre, a former federal bank examiner, points out not only are consumers vulnerable to the new “swipeless” technology but financial institutions can also be held responsible for the millions of contactless cards that they have issued. McIntyre asks, “What excuse will organizations like JP Morgan Chase make if consumers are harmed financially because they have their personal information siphoned by identity thieves? These issuers stand to lose millions of dollars.”

Despite concern by many in the financial world, CASPIAN seems to be the consumers strongest defense. This was demonstrated last month when they demanded a recall of RFID credit cards after the New York Times reported that a team of security researchers found that virtually every one of the “no-swipe” credit cards it tested was vulnerable to unauthorized charges and put consumers at risk for identity theft. Consumers can be thankful that both Albrecht and McIntyre are offering to testify before Congress about their extensive research into the dangers posed by RFID.

If CASPIAN is successful in regulating RFID chips privacy nightmares in the form of EAS (little anti-theft) tags that can be combined with individually trackable RFID chips and slipped into consumer products may never happen. Why fear this? An article in Friday’s RFID Journal reveals that Checkpoint Systems has actually developed a product tag that combines anti-theft and RFID tracking capabilities that are scheduled to debut at the RFID Journal Live! Conference in Orlando, Florida. This is beyond a doubt the #1 most important — and dangerous — development in the consumer privacy arena today. It means consumers may soon be buying, wearing, and carrying products tagged with RFID at the item level.

Since this technology is already available it would be a simple manner to do the same thing with RFID spychips. If they are not stopped, companies who specialize in RFID chips, like Checkpoint and Sensormatic, will soon be hiding these dual-use tracking devices in your belongings, where they will be able to silently and secretly transmit information about you to marketers, criminals, and Big Brother.

How will you know if an item you purchase carries such a tracking device? You won’t. No one will even know it’s happening because industry lobbyists have prevented RFID labeling legislation from passing anywhere in the nation, therefore, there is no requirement that retailers or manufacturers tell us when they’re hiding RFID tags in our clothes, shoes, books, or anything else.

More frightening yet is that this technology can be implanted into humans. Currently, the VeriChip Corporation is planning to inject numbered microchips into 200 Alzheimer’s patients in the near future even though this plan raises serious ethical questions.

Here’s what I know about AlzCare’s human-chipping plans: (This is from the CAPIAN website):

Scott R. Silverman, Chairman and CEO of VeriChip, commented “We are extremely pleased to partner with Alzheimer’s Community Care on this relevant study and believe participants will benefit from an improved standard of care when they present at a hospital emergency department. As an ‘always there’ technology, we believe our implantable VeriMed microchip and the VeriMed Patient Identification System is an essential solution and provides peace of mind for the families of those who cannot speak for themselves.” “Alzheimer’s Community Care has identified the VeriMed Patient Identification System as an important new component of helping Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers remain safe,” said Mary Barnes, President and CEO of the organization. “We are partnering with VeriChip to make this new technology available to the particularly vulnerable population of Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers currently being served by the agency.”

This Mirochipping for Humans according to Stacy Bruneau, on May 12, 2007, is under fire in
West Palm Beach where protesters gathered at the Alzheimer’s Community Care to picket the facility for its intention to implant the patients in their care. Doctor Albrecht is quick to point out that there are bracelets that a patient can wear that can help identify them so that an implant is not necessary.

However, since even these protests have resulted in VeriChip stock value falling dramatically the company is desperate to get people chipped since they are losing millions of dollars trying the sell their product. They don’t care about the patients they just care about the money their stockholders are losing.

I believe that there are several reasons that microchipping people, as if they were dogs or laboratory animals, not the least of these being that it is dehumanizing. It violates our physical integrity and our dignity. And for millions of people around the globe, receiving a numbered mark is also one of the most serious religious violations a person can commit since it is something that they believe has been prophesied in the Bible.

[tags]RFID chips, Alzheimers, CASPIAN, VeriChip, No swipe credit cards, Human implants, Tracking humans, Microchipping humans, anti-theft tags, Big Brother[/tags]