It is 7 a.m. and members of the Jacobs family are getting ready to start their day : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread

Future Family? Florida Family Wants Controversial ID Chip Implants By Jim Goldman, Tech Live Silicon Valley bureau chief B O C A R A T O N, Fla., Feb. 19 — It is 7 a.m. and members of the Jacobs family are getting ready to start their day.

It will be one of the last ordinary days of their lives: Soon, the Jacobs will become the first family ever implanted with a new identification device — no bigger than a grain of rice — called the VeriChip.

"We definitely, wholeheartedly believe that this technology will change the world, and it really is an honor to be a pioneer of a technology like this," said Leslie Jacobs. Her husband Jeffrey and 14-year-old son, Derek, said they share Leslie's pioneering attitude about the new VeriChip.

"We're doing something that is good for mankind," Jeffrey said. "I feel like I'm going with the flow of nature, and doing exactly what we're here to do to improve the problems of the world."

The VeriChip is similar to a MedicAlert bracelet, but instead of being worn on the wrist, it is implanted under the skin. It was created by Applied Digital Solutions, a technology development company based in Palm Beach, Florida.

Since Applied Digital Solutions unveiled the VeriChip in December 2001, the company has been inundated by the world's media. The company calls its chip a potential lifesaver for Alzheimer's patients who may get lost, as well as an effective way for doctors to identify patients who will be otherwise unable to identify themselves because they are either unconscious or dead.

But privacy rights experts say the chip crosses a dangerous line since it could someday be tracked remotely.

Portable, Electronic Medical Records

For Jeffrey Jacobs, the VeriChip could be a lifesaver. He's been severely disabled by Hodgkin's disease and a serious car accident. He says if he's ever unconscious, the device could provide instant, electronic access to his complicated medical history and long list of medications — saving valuable time and maybe his life.

"It's a great feeling," he said. "I can be more comfortable not having to worry about myself in case of an emergency. I have more sense of security."

A prototype of the chip holds 126 characters and is activated only when a handheld scanner passes over it. The patient's identification number is displayed and then uploaded into another portable device. Patient data is encrypted to 128 bits and then displayed on the reader.

As the scanner passed over the chip during a demonstration, Applied Digital Solutions' Chief Technology Officer Keith Bolton said, "Now it wakes up, it has power, it transmits the information. As soon as it transmits the information, it goes back to sleep. No radiation, no power source of its own, it merely sits there, waiting to be activated."

Potential for Big Brother?

Newer versions of the VeriChip will hold up to a megabyte of programmable data, and some may include a global positioning tracking feature.

And therein lies the problem. Ethicists wonder who will be able to access the data. Can people be monitored? From how far? What about the right to privacy?

"The first concern is that it will fall into the hands of an evil and oppressive state," said Laurie Zoloff, a bioethicist in San Francisco. "If you're thoroughly known, then you can be thoroughly controlled, because they'll know more about you than you want to be known."

There's another issue: Could the chip ever become mandatory, like an inoculation?

"I don't envision a time like that because we live in the USA, [the land of] freedom of speech [and] democracy. It's your choice. You elect to have a chip because it's gonna provide a benefit to you," Applied Digital Solutions' Bolton said.

Privacy Not an Issue for Family

Jeffrey Jacobs said he's not worried about privacy issues that swirl around the VeriChip.

"I think there's a lot more invasion of privacy now with all of those things that are currently available on cards to the population than on something nice and private [and] hidden in your body which can't be stolen," he said.

For Leslie Jacobs, the controversy follows her to work just about every day.

"I'm kinda hesitant," said one of her co-workers at Florida Design Magazine. "I don't think she's wrong, I don't think she's right. It's her decision." "I do think it will be very safe and the wave of the future," said another co-worker.

But Leslie says the dialogue only "strengthens my position. I think I'm intelligent, I think my husband is intelligent, I know my son is intelligent, and we wouldn't do anything without our research."

Son Derek doesn't escape the controversy.

One friend from his band class thinks "it's really weird." Another calls it "cool." Still another says, "I would wait till more people have it before I actually get it."

But Derek isn't the least bit concerned about the VeriChip. After all, he's something of a computer genius, certified as a Microsoft systems engineer at age 12. In fact, it was his idea for the whole family to get "chipped."

"It's brand new, it really hasn't been done in humans," Derek said. "It may have been done in animals, but it's a totally different story when it's put in humans.

It's used for different purposes. It's great technology and if you're the first person, it's pioneering."

Waiting for FDA Approval in U.S.

Applied Digital Solutions won't say when it will get Food and Drug Administration approval for the chip, but the Jacobs say it could be just a matter of weeks. When the company gets the approval, the Jacobs will have the surgery.

They probably will not be alone for very long: Applied Digital Solutions says it already has received requests from 2,000 kids across the country wanting to get implanted themselves.

In the meantime, while the company waits for FDA clearance in the United States, it is finding new business in Latin America.

Late last week, Applied Digital Solutions announced it has entered into its first Latin American remarketing agreement for VeriChip and other products. The remarketer has received the "first right to market" for VeriChip and other Applied Digital Solutions products in three Latin American countries. Initial orders exceed $300,000 and first-year revenue should approach $2 million.

"We have received an overwhelming interest in VeriChip worldwide," said Richard J. Sullivan, chairman and CEO of Applied Digital Solutions. "The demand for products that add safety and security to everyday life is particularly strong in Latin America as a result of its political, economic, and social climate."

-- Cherri (, February 20, 2002


Cherri, link please?

-- (a@a.a), February 20, 2002.

As long as this is voluntary, it seems like a good idea. However, the slope is slippery.

-- (, February 20, 2002.

"Computer! Where is the Captain?"

The Captain is in the Ten Forward personal evacuation unit. Estimated time of completion: ten minutes.

-- helen (trek@for.our.times), February 20, 2002. 219.html

-- Cherri (, February 21, 2002.

"We're doing something that is good for mankind," Jeffrey said. "I feel like I'm going with the flow of nature, and doing exactly what we're here to do to improve the problems of the world."

Yes, I can't think of anything more natural than having a microchip implanted under your skin, can you?

-- bogsworth (running@on.8cylinders), February 23, 2002.

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