Chip Implanted in Mexico Judicial
Associated Press: July
Security has reached the
subcutaneous level for Mexico's attorney general and at least 160 people in his
office - they have been implanted with microchips that get them access to secure
areas of their headquarters.
It's a pioneering application of a
technology that is widely used in animals but not in humans.
top federal prosecutors and investigators began receiving chip implants in their
arms in November in order to get access to restricted areas inside the attorney
general's headquarters, said Antonio Aceves, general director of Solusat, the
company that distributes the microchips in Mexico.
Rafael Macedo de la Concha and 160 of his employees were implanted at a cost to
taxpayers of $150 for each rice grain-sized chip.
More are scheduled
to get "tagged" in coming months, and key members of the Mexican military, the
police and the office of President Vicente Fox might follow suit, Aceves said.
Fox's office did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
spokeswoman for Macedo de la Concha's office said she could not comment on
Aceves' statements, citing security concerns. But Macedo himself mentioned the
chip program to reporters Monday, saying he had received an implant in his arm.
He said the chips were required to enter a new federal anti-crime information
"It's only for access, for security," he said.
chips also could provide more certainty about who accessed sensitive data at any
given time. In the past, the biggest security problem for Mexican law
enforcement has been corruption by officials themselves.
his company eventually hopes to provide Mexican officials with implantable
devices that can track their physical location at any given time, but that
technology is still under development.
The chips that have been
implanted are manufactured by VeriChip Corp., a subsidiary of Applied Digital
Solutions Inc. of Palm Beach, Fla.
They lie dormant under the skin
until read by an electromagnetic scanner, which uses a technology known as radio
frequency identification, or RFID, that's now getting hot in the inventory and
supply chain businesses.
Scott Silverman, Applied Digital Solutions'
chief executive, said each of his company's implantable chips has a special
identification number that would foil an impostor.
"The technology is
out there to duplicate (a chip)," he said. 'What can't be stolen is the unique
identification number and the information that is tied to that
Erik Michielsen, director of RFID analysis at ABI Research
Inc., said encryption in the chips should make them as secure as existing
RFID-based access control systems, such as the contactless employee badges that
are widely used in corporate and government facilities. However, Michielsen
questioned how big of a workplace market there can be for Applied Digital
Solutions' chips, partly because of privacy concerns.
In addition to
the chips sold to the Mexican government, more than 1,000 Mexicans have
implanted them for medical reasons, Aceves said. Hospital officials can use a
scanning device to download a chip's serial number, which they then use to
access a patient's blood type, name and other information on a
The Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve
microchips as medical devices in the United States.
said that his company has sold 7,000 chips to distributors across the United
States and that more than 1,000 of those had likely been inserted into U.S.
customers, mostly for security or identification reasons.
In 2002, a
Florida couple and their teenage son had Applied Digital Solutions chips
implanted in their arms. The family hoped to someday be able to automatically
relay their medical information to emergency room staffers.
originally was developed to track livestock and wildlife and to let pet owners
identify runaway animals. The technology was created by Digital Angel Corp.,
which was acquired by Applied Digital Solutions in 1999.
Applied Digital chips cannot be easily removed, they could be even more popular
someday if they eventually can incorporate locator capabilities. Already, global
positioning system chips have become common accompaniments on jewelry or
clothing in Mexico.
In fact, in March, Mexican authorities broke up a
ring of used-car salesmen turned kidnappers who were known as "Los Chips"
because they searched their victims to detect whether they were carrying the
chips to help them be located.