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RFID: National ID to Implantable Chip

The following is a research paper that was put together for a class in computer technology.  The information that is contained in this research paper makes one think--just how close are we to Christ's return. We hope the information given here will open the eyes of many as it did for us.  Yours in Christ, Dar

There is a bill currently before Congress called the REAL ID Act of 2005 which would require that everyone have a National ID before acquiring a passport, before boarding an airplane, or accessing federal programs that require a federally recognized ID. This bill passed the House on February 10, 2005 and is now before the Senate.

On October 13, 2004, the FDA approved the use of the VeriChip (human implantable chip) for medical use. These two items mark the beginning of a controversial technology that will ultimately affect us all. Our privacy and the security of our privacy will be at risk.

What is an RFID?

According to Wikipedia (2005),

      Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is a method of remotely storing and retrieving data using devices called RFID tags/Transponders. An RFID tag is a small object, such as an adhesive sticker, that can be attached to or incorporated into a product. RFID tags contain antennas to enable them to receive and respond to radio-frequency queries from an RFID transceiver.

The Wikipedia definition above leaves out the critical part of the RFID, the tiny chip that is attached to the back of the sticker along with the antenna. This chip carries an ID number which connects the chip to various databases. When the chip is scanned the ID number can be cross-referenced with the databases. RFID is an old technology first used during World War II to identify U.S. bombers returning to bases in the U.K; friendly aircraft gave a unique blip on radar screens.

There are two basic types of RFID devices. Passive RFID devices lack an independent power supply. A minute electric current induced in the antenna by the incoming radio-frequency provides enough power for the tag to send a response. (Wikipedia, 2005). A passive tag commonly holds only an identification number or other code. Active RFID tags are coin-sized with their own power supply, which often results in longer ranges and larger data storage.

Up until now, this technology has been used mostly in merchandising, inventory control, libraries, I.D. badges, pallet and container tracking, and truck and trailer tracking in shipping yards. Large retailers lead by Wal-Mart are currently installing RFID technology in selected, high-turnover products. (U.S. News and World Report, 2005). This creates a seamless flow of information from the warehouse to check-out. In a real way, RFID tags are the bar codes of the very near future. Another popular use has been implanting a small chip in animals for identification of the animalís owner if it is lost. (These chips are already available for local veterinarians.) In general, chips inserted into materials and living animals would permit instant identification and possible tracking.

Proposed Legislation of the "Real ID Act."

On February 10, 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R 418. This "Real ID Act" was proposed

      to establish and rapidly implement regulations for State driverís license and identification document security standards, to prevent terrorists from abusing the asylum laws of the United States, to unify terrorism-related grounds for inadmissibility and removal, and to ensure expeditious construction of the San Diego border fence."(Library of Congress, 2005).

It contains two titles. Title I: Amendments to Federal Laws to Protect Against Terrorist Entry is an attempt to better define asylum, terrorist activities, and in general tighten restrictions for persons entering the U.S. Title II: Improved Security for Driverís Licenses and Personal Identification Cards is more directly concerned with the identification of U.S. Citizens.

The "Real ID Act," would use RFID technology for the National ID card. The ID card would contain an ID number linking each person to a database to confirm their identity. According to (Library of Congress, 2005), the ID card would still be issued at the state level but with the state agreeing to the federal requirements of the card. These would include: name, gender, date of birth, photograph, signature, identification number, and primary residence. Motor vehicle databases from all states would be linked together so that information from all states would be available from one ID number. This legislation has already passed the House and is currently in the Senate where it is receiving some opposition. Beaucar Vlahos (2005) states that "the White House has already expressed support for the plan."

Those in favor of the National ID Card (Real ID Act)

Government officials, mainly The Department of Homeland Security, are in favor of the National ID Card because it will block states from issuing standard driversí licenses to illegal immigrants. It would also prevent people from using multiple identity documents like the 9/11 terrorists did by having multiple state-issued driverís licenses. Support of this bill comes from the fact that the leader of the 9/11 terrorists had eight driverís licenses and related documents permitting easy rental of safe houses, money transfers, attendance at flight schools, and obtaining airline boarding passes (Collins, 2005) .

Those opposing the National ID Card (Real ID Act)

There is a lot of opposition from the citizens of our country. Although those in favor say the Real ID Act is not a National ID Card because it is voluntary, the Real ID Act asks for states to comply with federal antiterrorist standards by 2008. If these standards arenít met and Americanís donít have cards that comply, Americans may not be able to fly on airplanes, gain entrance to national parks, or take a train. If a state doesnít comply, they may be denying their citizens simple freedoms of this country.

There is also worry about giving too much authority to the Department of Homeland Security for the design of these cards. These cards could eventually be connected to databases housing fingerprints, DNA data, and RFID tracking technology. (McCullough, 2005) Based on an unscientific sample of web sites with known political agendas, opposition to this bill is a common concern by both liberal and conservative voices ( 2005; Ron Paul, 2005):

      Conservatives and libertarians typically argue that a national ID card will increase the power of the government, and they fear the dehumanizing effects of laws enacted as a result. Civil libertarian groups tend to worry about the administrative problems, the opportunities for criminal mischief and the potential irreversibility of such a system (McCullagh, 2005).

There is also opposition because of the question of whether there is enough security built into the technology. The card would provide access to computer databases. Computers and their information are constantly at risk of attack by hackers. Our privacy will be at risk.

The Verichip

The FDA approved the use of Applied Digitalís human implantable chip on October 13, 2004 for medical use. This chip is about the size of a grain of rice and can be inserted under the skin with a syringe. The information is obtained by passing a scanner over the chip insertion site. The chip will not hold any medical information but will carry a unique 16 digit ID number linking the person to a medical database via encrypted internet access. (, 2004)

According to Schuerenberg (2005), the chip was implanted in the arm of Dr. John Halamka, CIO of Bostonís CareGroup Healthcare System on December 22, 2004. As of that date, nearly 40 persons in the U.S. have been implanted with the chip. While Dr. Halamkaís device contained his master patient index number, the other persons tested the device for security purposes. As a point of comparison, the Managed Care Law Weekly reported on November 7, 2004 that one million chips have already been implanted in pets.

This chip is being further developed for other uses. On May 13, 2003, Applied Digital announced that it had a working prototype of a subdermal GPS (global positioning satellite) personal location device (a device capable of being tracked by a satellite). At that time it was about the size of pacemaker, but miniaturization was in process and they expected to dramatically reduce the size of the prototype by the end of 2003. (ADSX, 2003) Although there seems to be a mysterious lack of information about this prototype since that time, the agreement with ORBCOMM described below would seem to imply that this technology may now be a reality since ORBCOMM will "be itís provider of satellite and telecommunication services to be developed for use with the VeriChip." (ORBCOMM, 2004). By combining a GPS device with a definite means of identification, it is now possible to know both the identity and the location of persons.

On December 15, 2004, ORBCOMM, a global satellite telecommunications company executed an agreement with VeriChip Corporation, a subsidiary of Applied Digital, to be itís provider of satellite and telecommunication services for applications to be developed for use with the VeriChip. Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will work together to develop and market new military, security, and healthcare applications for use in the United States and around the world. (ORBCOMM, 2004)

On April 1, 2005, eXI Wireless became part of the VeriChip Corporation. As a result, VeriChip Corporation will now offer implantable and external RFID products for people in the healthcare and security environment. It will now offer eXIís products: HALO, a system for infant hospital security, RoamAlert, a system to prevent patients from wandering, and Assetrac to help prevent medical equipment theft and loss. (Verichip, 2005)

Those in favor of the VeriChip

Those in the healthcare profession are definitely in favor of the VeriChip. Medical information can be provided in emergencies by simply scanning the chip. The ID number will connect them to the patientís medical history and allow them to provide faster medical care to the patient. Imagine the advantages of being pulled unconscious from an automobile accident, being scanned, and having EMTs know exactly who you are, the drugs you are allergic to, or if you have a heart or other condition that needs to closely monitored.

If used in the military, it would be possible to track each individual soldier on the battlefield. Closer support could be provided, medical conditions monitored, and the capture of troops immediately known. Security would benefit from having a definite way of identifying a person without having to match finger prints; the person would simply walk past a scanner. Finally, identify theft could be reduced through the use of chips (Business Wire, 2005). Thus, these healthcare, military, and security applications could benefit the entire world. With the addition of GPS personal location, anyone with a need to keep track of an individual will benefit by this chip.

Those in opposition of the VeriChip

Opposition to the chip centers on three issues. The first is loss of privacy; persons and groups that value this right are horrified at this potential invasion. A person should be allowed to move freely around the country; as long he/she engages in legal activities, there should be no interference. As with the national ID card, opposition comes from both ends of the political spectrum.

Secondly, the chip is seen as the Mark of the Beast, described in the Bible in the Book of Revelations Chapter 13:16, by some conservative Christians. This verse predicts that a world ruler some time in the future will rise and during his reign will force people to take his mark in either their forehead or hand in order to buy or sell. It is stated that people who accept the Mark will be damned for eternity. This could lead to political and religious opposition to the chip.

The third concern, more technical, centers on the security of the chip. According to Josh McHugh (2004) a "scanner operating at the right wave length can read an RFID chip." Anyone with a scanner at the correct wave length could scan the card. Once scanned and the ID number obtained, this ID number connects to a computer database and even the most secure databases can be compromised.

All seem to be asking the same questions. Will this lead to a total loss of our privacy? Will this chip be required in order for us to do our banking, purchase items, to receive medical attention? Will the government be able to track our every move? What about security?


With the advancement of this type of technology come unanswered questions. From this writerís standpoint, I can only conclude that although the National ID Card and the VeriChip can benefit society if used properly, this leaves a whole new field of technology to be abused and corrupted.

There are two basic questions. Should they be used at all and, if so, how should they be controlled. Realistically, the National ID will most likely pass Congress and be signed by the President. At that point we have a choice either to opt out and live under the radar on a cash and barter economy or to live with the card. As life becomes more complex and more interconnected, the first becomes a very difficult choice. Living with the card or chip means that their use must be controlled, civil liberties redefined, protected by strong laws, and oversight established. A person should have the right to refuse either form of I.D. without being considered a terrorist (notice how that word has replaced "communist" as the threat to the U.S. in the past ten years!).

A related problem is that any system that can be built, can be compromised. The critical IT problem is how to use this new technology effectively and efficiently and at the same time keep it secure. The problem for society is to be able to use the technology, but still have our privacy protected. These questions should be asked:

Should the technology be used?

What information should be collected and how should that information be used?

How can we assure that its use protects each citizenís rights to privacy?

How can we build a system that cannot be compromised?

Humans can rationalize the most horrid acts, and governments are filled with people who want to control others. Finally, if we give up our freedom to combat terrorists, they have already won. Living in a free society, where privacy is strongly enforced, need not mean giving up reasonable security.

If we curtail our own freedoms out of fear of terrorists, then the terrorists have won and we become just like them. The final paragraph of George Orwellís Animal Farm says it all:

      Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which. (Orwell, 1945)



ADSX. (2003, May 13). Applied Digital Solutions announces working prototype of subdermal GPS personal location device. Applied Digital Solutions. Retrieved April 3, 2005 from

Beaucar Vlahos, K. (2005, April 4). ĎReal IDí bill caught in legislative limbo. Fox News Channel. Retrieved April 4, 2005 from 0,2933,152328.00.html

Business Wire. (2005, February 8). Noted security and privacy expert implanted with VeriChip. Retrieved April 4, 2005 from

Collins, Donald A. (2005, March 7). The means to keep safe driverís licenses. Washington Dispatch. Retrieved April 2, 2005, from printer_10754.shtml (2004, October13). FDA clears VeriChip for medical applications in the United States. Retrieved April 4, 2005 from verichip_cleared.htm (2005, February 18). National loss of freedoms care. Retrieved April 3, 2005 from

Library of Congress. Thomas: Legislative Information on the Internet. H.R.418. Retrieved April 2, 2005 from @@@D&summ2=m&

Managed Care Law Weekly. (2004, November 7). U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Implantable chip provides medical information, privacy worries. 95. Retrieved April 4, 2005 from LexisNexis.

McCullagh, D. (2005, February 14). National ID cards on the way? C/Net News.Com. Retrieved April 2, 2005 from

McHugh, J. (2004, November 10) A chip on your shoulder. Slate Magazine. Retrieved April 4, 2005 from

ORBCOMM. (2004, December 15). ORBCOMM announces application development agreement with VeriChip Corporation. ORBCOMM. Retrieved April 5, 2005 from readNewsArticle.jsp?ARTICLE_ID=12

Orwell, George. Animal Farm. London: 1945. Retrieved April 4, 2005 from

Rep. Ron Paul (2005, Feb. 12). HR 418: A national ID bill masquerading as immigration reform. Retrieved April 4, 2005 from

Schuerenberg, B. K. (2005) Implantable RFID chip takes root in CIOÖliterally. Newsline, 13(3), 14. Retrieved April 4, 2005 from LexisNexis.

U.S. News and World Report (2005, January 24). Big box meets big brother. 138(3), 46-47. Retrieved April 4, 2005 from

VeriChip. (2005, April 1). Applied Digital's VeriChip Corporation completes acquisition of eXI Wireless. Kevin McLaughlin becomes CEO of VeriChip Corporation, an RFID Company for People. Verichip. Retrieved April 4, 2005 from

Wikipedia (2005, April 2). RFID. Retrieved April 3, 2005, from

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