FDA has ruled that implantable microchips dont need to be regulated.
April 6, 2002 6:47 PM   Subscribe

FDA has ruled that implantable microchips dont need to be regulated. It looks like, the Jacobs family can now have their VeriChips. Does anyone else think that some kind of regulations of these devices is called needed? (via GMSV).
posted by justlooking (19 comments total)
Sorry about the typo. Tried to stop the post in mid-stream, but didnt work :( ...
posted by justlooking at 6:50 PM on April 6, 2002

In South America, the device has been bundled with a GPS-unit and sold to potential kidnapping victims.

If its a simple surgical precedure to get it in you then all it takes is a low-quality street doctor to pull it out of you. It isn't impossible to locate it once implanted and kidnappers will be thankful to know they didn't kidnap the wrong guy.

Its great for pets and medical information, but its probably a bad idea to have something inside you of worth that you don't need. I hope everyone who jumps in on this enjoys the novely of being scanned as, "Pickles:German Sherpard:Age 8."
posted by skallas at 7:11 PM on April 6, 2002

I say no regulation, because anyone dumb enough to do this deserves to face any related risks.

They can buy insurance.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:43 PM on April 6, 2002

A bit off subject, but does anyone else think these devices are a bad idea? I mean, what if the government eventuallty forced everyone to have one of these implants so that we could move closer and closer to a futuristic "Big Brother" society?
posted by Aikido at 7:46 PM on April 6, 2002

I've mentioned this before, but my 8 year old son is autistic. If the implantable GPS chip becomes legal and available, I would have one of these chips implanted in him in a heartbeat, given that he is completely incapable of even noticing he needs help (let alone ask for it) if he gets lost. I am sure that families with alzheimer's patients feel much the same way.

A person does not have to be dumb to want to do this, the just need a valid reason that perhaps you have not yet taken the time to consider.
posted by Lokheed at 7:49 PM on April 6, 2002

Please, please, embed these in my car keys.
posted by machaus at 7:54 PM on April 6, 2002

well, arguably neither your son or the hypothetical alzheimer patient wants it... i think what people are worried about is exactly what you describe, there are no shortage of reasons people would want to put the implant in other groups or individuals, but it is precisely that which frightens most people. both your examples are implantations imposed on others that you don't see as your equal. (not that your specific reasons aren't valid)
posted by rhyax at 8:06 PM on April 6, 2002

When I was a kid, baptist preachers tried to instill in me a sense of horror for technology, saying someday they'd tattoo UPC labels on all human beings and if you refused to be branded thusly, they'd cut off your head as a traitor. I found the baptist preachers laughable, and that tired horror story is one of the reasons why I no longer waste my time with church - religion is run by insane zealots who seek control over others through fear and misinformation.

However, if put into the wrong hands (and with little to no regulation it can easily fall into the wrong hands), this microchip crap under the skin could feasibly become something that allowed the wrong people to take privacy away from anyone foolish enough to brand themselves. I've been saying for years that the Book of Revelations has already happened. I'd hate to be proven wrong.

And Lokheed, with all due respect I still say using this new technology is foolish. I am NOT calling you foolish, but if you allowed a chip to be implanted in your son, that would be a foolish action. I understand you're in an unique position, and it appears to be advantageous, but the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:09 PM on April 6, 2002

if you read the VeriChip link, you will notice that one of its applications is for "a rapid, secure and non-invasive method for obtaining medically critical information about the device." however, according to a statement by the FDA in your lead link, "'They inquired about the use of the product for non-medical, identification purposes,' said FDA spokeswoman Sharon Snider. 'If it's a non-medical use, the FDA doesn't regulate it.'" so it would seem that the VeriChip, presented with its full feature set, would be regulated.
posted by moz at 8:14 PM on April 6, 2002

I want one of these in Elijah Wood.
I want to know where that little bugger gets to.
posted by dong_resin at 8:32 PM on April 6, 2002

If this were to become, down the road, the dreaded Mark of the Beast and tool of The Man for oppressing the masses, wouldn't establishing regulation be the first baby step toward -- not away from -- that?
posted by majick at 8:46 PM on April 6, 2002

Scanning over the article again and found this:

"We'll start the rollout with people who want it for medical concerns and Generation Y people who want to get chipped because they think it's cool," Silverman said.

Disgusting. And the scary thing is that many people are this stupid to get an implant if it were "cool." About time the sheep get tagged I suppose...
posted by Aikido at 9:24 PM on April 6, 2002

For a thrilling recounting of our liberation from the yoke of government regulation, check out the first episode of the PBS series The Commanding Heights.
posted by sheauga at 9:25 PM on April 6, 2002

Moz: You are right.

I do think however that anything which is gonna get inserted inside the human body should be checked for safety (may be its just paranoia on my part). If FDA isnt going to do it, I am not sure who would.

Also, what defines 'identification'? Would medical data about someone's life threatening illness be considered information pertaining to identity or would that be construed as medical information. Now that Applied Digital has the permission to run these devices unregulated, I am sure they would try to stretch the definitions as far as the courts/FDA would permit. (I guess HIPAA would cover that, but you never know).

Also, as others indicated, the bigger concern at this stage is probably privacy. The CEO of Applied Digital Solutions - Sullivan - got into hot water some time back for suggesting that verichips can be used for monitoring foreigners. Nobody took it seriously except the privacy advocates. But sooner or later someone somewhere would like to put them on prisoners / people on parole etc. Companies that want to use biometric idenitity tools would love to use verichips too. If it finds social accpetance, the naysayers would be laughed off as unduly paranoid. (I guess it is possible that I am being unduly paranoid here).

I am sure that it has great applications in some case. But I do think that sometimes people need to be protected from themselves.
posted by justlooking at 9:35 PM on April 6, 2002

Majick, VERY good point. Okay. Keep this as unregulated as possible. Let's turn it into another popular form of body manipulation like tattoos and piercings. No one could ever possibly take it seriously, and the more deadheads and freaks walking around with these things, the greater the "background noise" for people trying to pinpoint any one microchip amongst a crowd of them. Then have several dozen different companies, each one with their own design that happens to interfere with how the other ones function when in vicinity to each other. And make them so that they only last a couple years before they need to be replaced. We could build several industries around their upkeep. It could become fashionable to have to install new ones as the technologies improve.

What this idea needs is a marketing campaign - nothing ruins prophecy better than marketing.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:37 PM on April 6, 2002

For a thrilling recounting of our liberation from the yoke of government regulation, check out the first episode of the PBS series The Commanding Heights.

I'd love to (I REALLY like this link). Unfortunately, the geniuses at PBS don't seem to have realized that April 3 was four days ago now, and have not even put the first episode online yet.
posted by aaron at 10:25 PM on April 6, 2002

posted by ajbattrick at 8:19 AM on April 7, 2002

I guess I can understand why people react with so much fear to this kind of thing, but look at the upside of implantable technology.

Implanted cell phones are already possible. I say your name, you're in my ear, no wires, no batteries. Imagine the effect that level of communication would have on human society.

I could also go for an implanted IR transceiver with an internal ram drive. Control my TV and keep my contact list and keys in a rock of electronics in my leg meat. Then I'd have to lose my leg to lose my keys or remote.
posted by Leonard at 8:39 AM on April 7, 2002

Zachsmind: That's brilliant! Considering that technology has yet to distinguish the signal of a single cell phone among millions ... um ... er ... maybe that's not so brilliant.

I think there are valid private uses of this technology. A friend's stepmother has Alzheimer's and has recently become homebound, but there was a period where she was mostly lucid and could hold a job, and every few months she would get completely lost, park, and have a taxi take her home. Fortunately she always made it, and retrieving the car was merely a hassle. This last week here in Illinois there was an 86-year-old woman who disappeared, though; they eventually found her body in the middle of a farm field near her car. Then there's kids, perhaps with a medical disability, perhaps just emotional problems, who might get lost or run away.

A personal Lo-Jack seems inevitable. The market's going to demand it. And if you've got the idea that private uses are the gateway to government uses, think about the cell phone or PDA you're already carrying. Or the credit card that leaves a record of wherever you've bought gas.

Tracking non-citizens is something that seems pretty drastic. The biggest argument against it isn't necessarily even rights -- as the fact that the baddest guys we'd want to track would probably find ways to remove the device or jam it. Still, there are going to be governments that choose to use this -- perhaps China, or the occasionally paranoid Singapore. But we may simply want to concern ourselves more with devices that wouldn't be voluntary -- something like the patch Spock slapped on Kirk's back in Star Trek VI.
posted by dhartung at 9:05 AM on April 7, 2002

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