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A seminar on implantable ID and tracking chips for humans has been convened at the National Academies today in Washington, D.C.

Participating in the seminar are officials from Applied Digital Solutions (maker of Digital Angel and VeriChip), the Cato Institute, the Electronic Information Privacy Center and the FDA.

The seminar, open to the public, was announced under the Policy and Global Affairs arm of the National Academy of Science, and was organized by Science and Technology Policy interns.

The program is titled, “Human Microchip Implantation – It’s More than Skin Deep.”

The following issues were slated for discussion:

  • What are the possible applications of this technology?

  • Under what circumstances can a microchip device be used?
  • Which applications are beneficial and which may have negative consequences to the general public?
  • What information can be collected and by whom?
  • Can this technology endanger the bearer?

The event follows the FDA’s recent decision not to regulate the implantable VeriChip (a radio-frequency identification chip) when used for security, financial and personal identification or safety applications. The decision ended a five-month investigation into the company and its representations of the product.

FDA officials had previously made strong statements to the press concerning the investigation.

Wired magazine called the governmental green light “sudden,” a “surprise,” and “controversial.”

Wally Pellerite of the FDA’s office of compliance told WND that securing approval to market the VeriChip also as a medical record device was not likely to be a difficult or involved process, although trials would probably be required for the upcoming GPS-trackable implant. He also indicated that no fines or penalties had been levied against the company.

Meanwhile, Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Information Privacy Center has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to learn more details of the FDA’s approval of VeriChip.

Controversy over denials

Controversy is also growing over the company’s previous denials that it was not planning on creating or developing implants. Some feel the denials short-circuited the opportunity for adequate public debate and media analysis.

Denials similar to those given to WND were issued also to the Politech website, a politics and technology e-forum run by Declan McCullagh, former Washington bureau chief for Wired magazine, and currently chief political correspondent for CNET.

Recently Nathan Cochrane, deputy IT editor for The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald addressed the controversy in a piece on McCullagh’s site..

“ADS’ bald-faced lies to you and the members of your list about its plans in the past should send off warning flares about its intentions and the ethical foundation of its culture,” he wrote.

“With any decision as controversial and of such profound significance as this, it is beholden on a federal government department in a liberal, transparent and open democracy to release the full details of its deliberations, including any conversations of both a formal and informal nature,” he wrote. “That includes intra-governmental and interdepartmental transactions. There can be no confidence in the decision until this is done and scrutinized.”

Cochrane added: “But it further begs the question I also asked back then of ‘How much longer before implants are mandatory by law for all American citizens, and those in the rest of the world?’”

Cochrane also praised WorldNetDaily’s coverage of the company, noting that “WorldNetDaily broke the Digital Angel story” and “has done an excellent job of tracking this implant tracking company’s machinations.”

Towards the ubiquitous data-grid

The capital seminar on implantable microchips also comes on the heels of news of the Defense Department’s Total Information Awareness program, dubbed by critics a “super-snoop’s dream,” whereby the government would be authorized to collect every type of available public and private data in what the Pentagon describes as one “centralized grand database.”

In addition, as reported by the Washington Times, a congressional leadership memo outlining the legislation says the project will “help identify promising technologies and quickly get them into the hands of people who need them.”

The seminar also follows the initiation of biometric identification (iris scans) for employees at JFK International airport. ADS has previously suggested that government use its implants for employees at airports and nuclear power plants. They have also suggested the possibility of using the implants in conjunction with biometric scans, for “foolproof” identification.

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