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Microchips in the Flesh!

Is this the future you want for your children???
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<DT><CENTER><B><FONT SIZE=+4>Microchips Under The Skin Offer <BR>
ID But Raise Serious Questions</FONT></B><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT></CENTER>
<DT><CENTER><FONT SIZE=+1>By Kevin Krolicki</FONT></CENTER>
<DT><CENTER><FONT SIZE=+1>12-21-1</FONT></CENTER>
<DT><CENTER><FONT SIZE=+1><BR>
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<DT><B><FONT SIZE=+1>LOS</FONT></B><FONT SIZE=+1> <B>ANGELES</B> (Reuters)
- Picture a chip the size of a grain of rice that can be injected into
your body and give detailed information about you to anyone with the right
scanning equipment.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>A scene from a bad science fiction film? A radical research
project in some secret government laboratory?</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>The chip is neither fiction nor obscure science, but
a soon-to-be-marketed product ready to make its way to customers in the
year ahead.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>The use of high-powered chips melded to the body has
been a recurrent theme of sci-fi from the 1984 cyberpunk novel ''Neuromancer''
to the 1999 blockbuster film ``The Matrix,'' but the announcement of a
commercial-ready product by Applied Digital Solutions this week will focus
real-world attention on the potential and risks of such technology, experts
said.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>Designed to store critical personal medical data, the
chip could mark the start of a more urgent debate about potential privacy
invasions at a time when privacy advocates are on the defensive over anti-terror
initiatives after Sept. 11.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>``It's certainly going to raise issues that we haven't
dealt with before,'' said Stephen Keating, executive director of the Denver-based
Privacy Foundation.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>Such radio-activated chips are already used to track
cattle, house pets and salmon.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>But this would mark the first attempt to apply the technology
to human beings, offering a potentially controversial means for hospitals
to ``scan'' patients in emergency rooms and for governments to pick out
convicted criminals.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>Applied Digital said Wednesday it would begin marketing
its implantable VeriChip in South America and Europe, initially as a means
to convey information about medical devices to doctors who need a quick
way to find out how and where patients with pacemakers, artificial joints
and other surgically implanted devices have been treated.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>When activated by a radio scanner, the chip would emit
a radio signal of its own from under the skin that would transmit stored
data to a nearby Internet-equipped computer or via the telephone, the company
said.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>The chip itself could be implanted in a doctor's office
with a local anesthesia and the site of the injection could be closed without
stitches, it said.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>But the company already has its sights on more ambitious
applications for the chips, which are currently capable of carrying the
equivalent of about 6 lines of text. Future versions could emit a tracking
beacon or serve as a form of personal identification, an executive said.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>``There are enough benefits that outweigh the concerns
people have about privacy,'' said Applied Digital Chairman and Chief Executive
Richard Sullivan.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>Other experts remain skeptical, citing immediate practical
problems, such as the need to set standards that would make such chips
more universally readable, and longer-term concerns over civil liberties.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>Even so, such implants are certain to become more widespread,
said technology forecaster Paul Saffo.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>``Of course, we will do this,'' said Saffo of the Silicon
Valley-based Institute for the Future ``And it won't be just for the functionality.
It will also be for fashion. You've got a generation that's already piercing
themselves. Of course, they're going to put electronics under their skin.''</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>TOUCHED BY A DIGITAL ANGEL</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>Applied Digital, which has a $95-million market value
and has been scarcely followed on Wall Street, plans to file an application
with the Food and Drug Administration in January to market the chip in
the United States, a process that could take another year to 18 months,
Sullivan said.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>The Federal Communications Commission has already licensed
the chip's use of radio frequencies because of an existing version used
to track runaway pets, said Sullivan.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>The Palm Beach, Fla.-based company is just coming through
a two-year-long restructuring, reorganizing a far-flung telecommunications
business around a patent it acquired in December 1999 for a transmitter
that could be implanted in the body and powered by muscle movements.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>The first related commercial application was a remote-monitoring
device called Digital Angel, introduced at the end of November, which combines
a wristwatch-like sensor linked to a wireless transmitter and a global
positioning system.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>The device can transmit information on body temperature,
pulse and location and has been sold as a way to track Alzheimer's patients
and children who might wander from home.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>The company has also won a three-year trial contract
with California to supply a version of the product that would track paroled
prisoners in Los Angeles and alert authorities when they had violated the
terms of their parole by leaving a set area.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>Sales of the new implanted chip could total $2.5 million
to $5 million in 2002, Sullivan estimated, a small fraction of a potential
market the company has projected could be worth $70 billion or more.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>Wall Street is excited about the chip. Applied Digital,
which saw its stock rise 18% to 45 cents on the Nasdaq on its initial product
announcement on Wednesday, is in talks with major pacemaker manufacturers
about a joint-marketing plan that would see the VeriChip implanted at the
same time as the heart-regulating devices, he said.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>Some see new opportunities for high-tech security after
the hijacking attacks on New York and the Pentagon killed nearly 3,300
on Sept. 11. The attacks brought new support for the use of such technology
by government and more interest in its future commercial applications,
Sullivan said.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>``People are becoming less concerned about what information
is out there,'' he said.</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>Erwin Chemerinsky, a civil rights expert and law professor
at the University of Southern California, conceded that the public mood
has shifted, but said:</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>``It all depends on how this is used ... when the government
is invading the body there are always special privacy concerns.''</FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1></FONT>
<DT><FONT SIZE=+1>``This is rightly going to prompt debate, as you can
imagine, but the good news is that we'll have years to figure it out,''
said futurist Saffo.<BR>
</FONT>
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