The era of implanting people with identity chips is up on us
By Angela Swafford, Globe Correspondent, 5/20/2003
he painless procedure barely lasted 15 minutes. In his South Florida office, Dr. Harvey Kleiner applied a local anesthetic above the tricep of my right arm, then he inserted a thick needle deep under the skin.
''First we locate a prime spot,'' he said. ''The next thing is to release the button that triggers the injection mechanism, and that's it, the cargo's been delivered.''
The ''cargo'' was a half-inch-long microchip inside a glass and silicone cylinder that carries my permanent identification number. For an instant, I remembered the famous scene in the movie ''Fantastic Voyage'' in which a miniaturized Raquel Welch and her companions are inserted, submarine and all, into the vein of a patient. In my case, the tiny chip inside me can transmit personal information to anyone with a special handheld scanner.
Theoretically, this VeriChip will allow doctors to call up my medical records even if I'm too badly hurt to answer questions. It is also supposed to allow me to get money from an automatic teller machine by flashing my arm instead of punching in my PIN number. Or reassure airport security that I am a journalist, not a terrorist.
And, though the VeriChip strikes critics as Orwellian, its makers think the surgically implanted IDs could be the Social Security numbers of the future in a nervous world.