Health, Privacy And Judgement Day Concerns Spurring States’ Microchip-Implant Ban Bills

April 22, 2010 1:20 p.m.

At the intersection of political paranoia and old-fashioned, clinical paranoia you’ll find microchips. Tuesday, we brought you the story of a Georgia woman who appeared before lawmakers debating a microchip implant ban and testified that the Department of Defense had implanted a chip in her “vaginal-rectum area.”

But the specter of forced microchip implants, or human-chipping, is no laughing matter for the lawmakers in eight states who, over the past several years, have presented bills to ban the still-essentially-hypothetical problem. Three of those states (California, Wisconsin and North Dakota) have passed legislation.Last week, the Georgia House Judiciary Committee approved the state’s implant ban bill after hearing from the woman with the alleged DoD implant. It now moves on to a full house vote, and appears to have a decent shot of passing (the bill already passed the State Senate). One of the implant ban bill’s biggest backers, State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the measure was “proactive.” Human-chipping is “such a profound violation of one’s privacy, and we want to do something before it starts being enacted on the fringe,” Setzler said.

“The technology exists, it has been approved,” Donna Yeomans, legislative assistant to State Senator Chip Pearson (R-Dawsonville), one of the GA bill’s co-sponsers, told TPM. “The Senator feels it impedes our constitutional rights.”

The motives for confronting a problem that doesn’t actually exist yet are varied. Opponents of human-chipping worry about cancer, privacy issues, employee rights and, in some case, Judgement Day.

Back in February, Virginia Delegate Mark Cole (R-Fredericksburg), who sponsored an implant-ban bill, told The Washington Post: “My understanding — I’m not a theologian — but there’s a prophecy in the Bible that says you’ll have to receive a mark, or you can neither buy nor sell things in end times,” Cole said. “Some people think these computer chips might be that mark.”

In a statement on his website, Cole says that while microchip technology is in its “infancy” it is “here and is being used.” Virginia, Cole says, should be proactive and head-off potential problems regarding microchips. His bill eventually died in a State Senate subcommittee.

While he maintains that the religious objections to human-chipping are valid, in an interview with TPM, Cole expressed regret that blogs and The Washington Post had seized on his comments on the religious motivations behind his ban. “I think its reasonable for us to try and get ahead of the game,” Cole said. “Regardless of your objections [to the bill], you should have the right to have the final say as to what goes in your body.” Cole has no plans to reintroduce the legislation.

When Missouri was considering its own microchip ban in 2008, State Rep. Jim Guest (R-King) told the Columbia Missourian that the bill was aimed at preventing employers from mandating chips as a requisite for employment, even though no Missouri companies were then engaging in the practice. (Presumably, none have done so since.)

CASPIAN, a group dedicated to preventing and educating the public about unwanted microchip implants, says on its website that there is a “focused effort to promote human microchipping” going on right now. Among in the evidence of that effort cited by the group are: 1) the appointment of former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson’s to the board of VeriChip, a company that make human-embedable radio-frequency chips 2) a question posed by then-Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) during Chief Justice John Roberts’ confirmation hearing. “Can a microscopic tag be implanted in a person’s body to track his every movement?” Biden asked Roberts, accoring to “There’s actual discussion about that. You will rule on that — mark my words — before your tenure is over.”

In a report released on their website, CASPIAN claims to have reviewed research and found “a causal link between implanted radio-frequency (RFID) microchip transponders and cancer in laboratory rodents and dogs.” The group says health claims alone are enough to demand an end to human-microchipping, before it even really starts.

Katherine Albrecht, who runs CASPIAN and hosts a daily radio show called “Uncovering The Truth,” told TPM that some states don’t go far enough in their legislation, because they restrict their bans to “microchips” specifically, and do not ban other, potentially chip-less, tracking technologies.

Albrecht acknowledges that in her line of work, she often encounters people like the woman in Georgia, who believe they have been implanted with harmful microchips. Only one ever turned out to be a real case: a woman whose husband managed to stick a dog-tracking chip in her.

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