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<nettime> Chip implant gets cash under your skin
Felix Stalder on Tue, 25 Nov 2003 23:52:08 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Chip implant gets cash under your skin

[It's hard to decide if this is merely ridiculuous, just sad, or if a more 
general statement about the nature of (American) capitalism can be deduced 
from this. Probably not. A couple of years ago, a "business idea" like this 
might have attracted millions in venture capital. These days, the company 
gets delisted from NASDQ. Some sort of progress, I guess. Felix]

Chip implant gets cash under your skin
By Declan McCullagh
CNET News.com
November 25, 2003, 9:32 AM PT
URL: http://zdnet.com.com/2100-1103-5111637.html

Radio frequency identification tags aren't just for pallets of goods in 
supermarkets anymore.

Applied Digital Solutions of Palm Beach, Fla., is hoping that Americans can be 
persuaded to implant RFID chips under their skin to identify themselves when 
going to a cash machine or in place of using a credit card. The surgical 
procedure, which is performed with local anesthetic, embeds a 12-by-2.1mm 
RFID tag in the flesh of a human arm.

ADS Chief Executive Scott Silverman, in a speech at the ID World 2003 
conference in Paris last Friday, said his company had developed a "VeriPay" 
RFID technology and was hoping to find partners in financial services firms.

Matthew Cossolotto, a spokesman for ADS who says he's been "chipped," argues 
that competing proposals to embed RFID tags in key fobs or cards were flawed. 
"If you lose the RFID key fob or if it's stolen, someone else could use it 
and have access to your important accounts," Cossolotto said. "VeriPay solves 
that problem. It's subdermal and very difficult to lose. You don't leave it 
sitting in the backseat of the taxi."

RFID tags are miniscule microchips, which some manufacturers have managed to 
shrink to half the size of a grain of sand. They listen for a radio query and 
respond by transmitting a unique ID code, typically a 64-bit identifier 
yielding about 18 thousand trillion possible values. Most RFID tags have no 
batteries. They use the power from the initial radio signal to transmit their 

When embedded in human bodies, RFID tags raise unique security concerns. 
First, because they broadcast their ID number, a thief could rig up his or 
her own device to intercept and then rebroadcast the signal to an automatic 
teller machine. Second, sufficiently dedicated thieves may try to slice the 
tags out of their victims.

"We do hear concerns about this from a privacy point of view," Cossolotto 
said. "Obviously, the company wants to do all it can to protect privacy. If 
you don't want it anymore...you can go to a doctor and have it removed. It's 
not something I would recommend people do at home. I call it an opt-out 

Chris Hoofnagle, a lawyer at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said 
implanted RFID tags cause an additional worry. "When your bank card is 
compromised, all you have to do is make a call to the issuer," Hoofnagle 
said. "In this case, you have to make a call to a surgeon.

"It doesn't make sense to go from a card, which is controlled by an 
individual, to a chip, which you cannot control."

ADS shares have slid from a high of about $12 in 2000 to 40 cents, and the 
company is now fighting to stay listed on the Nasdaq. "Our common stock did 
not regain the minimum bid price requirement and on Oct. 28, 2003, the Nasdaq 
Stock Market informed us by letter that our securities would be delisted from 
the SmallCap," ADS said in a Nov. 14 filing with the U.S. Securities and 
Exchange Commission. The company also warned that its implantable microchips 
are manufactured solely by Raytheon without a "formal written agreement," and 
any price increases or supply disruptions would have serious negative 

MasterCard has been testing an RFID technology called PayPass. It looks like 
any other credit card but is outfitted with an RFID tag that lets it be read 
by a receiver instead of scanned through a magnetic stripe. "We're certainly 
looking at designs like key fobs," MasterCard Vice President Art Kranzley 
told USA Today last week. "It could be in a pen or a pair of earrings. 
Ultimately, it could be embedded in anything--someday, maybe even under the 

ADS is running a special promotion, urging Americans to "get chipped." The 
first 100,000 people to sign up will receive a $50 discount.


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