Empresa de Ohio implanta chips a sus empleados

By ALEC MAGNET, Staff Reporter of the Sun
The decision of two employees and the chief executive of an Ohio-based video surveillance company to implant into their forearms electronic tags that control access to the secure room that holds their highly confidential video footage has prompted considerable debate over surveillance and civil liberties.
The Financial Times yesterday reported that the company, CityWatcher.com, was the first private company in America known to have implanted such technology in its employees for security purposes. About 70 people in America have the chip, known as a VeriChip, in their arms so that doctors can access their medical records even if they are unconscious, according to a spokesman for the VeriChip Corporation, John Proctor.
The VeriChip, a type of Radio Frequency Identification technology, works essentially as a remote key card that is implanted into a person’s body. The chip is about the size of a grain of rice and carries a unique 16-digit code that can be read by radio transmitter. It does not emit a signal on its own.
CityWatcher.com installs surveillance cameras for the government, corporations, and schools. Its clients access the video footage over the Internet. The chips grant access to the room where the video footage is stored, Mr. Darks said.
The chief executive ofCityWatcher.com, Sean Darks, said in a telephone interview that his company would never require an employee to have the chip implanted. One staffer carries his on a key chain, he said.
Nevertheless, for some, CityWatcher.com’s use of the chip to tag its employees has raised the specter of Big Brother.
«It’s a slippery slope,» a consumer privacy expert, Katherine Albrecht, told The New York Sun. «The nightmare scenario is that we would be required to have the chip … by corporations or the government,» which could then monitor our movements through a network of radio frequency readers, she said. «Most American workers get a cold chill down their backs» at the thought.
Ms. Albrecht, the co-author of «Spychips: How Major Corporations and Government Plan to Track Your Every Move with RFID,» said that corporation would love to use such chips to monitor their consumers’ shopping habits. «Readers could be put surreptitiously anywhere, «especially shopping malls or sports arenas, she said, comparing the possible scenario to Steven Spielberg’s 2002 dystopia, «Minority Report.»
«The idea of coercing or forcing individuals to a VeriChip could not be further from our ideals,» Mr. Proctor told the Sun. «The Verichip Corporation wants to do everything in our power to protect the privacy of our customers.»
A freelance security researcher, Jonathan Westhues, said in a phone interview that the chips were poor security devices anyway. Because the information they carry is not encrypted, he said, they are easy to clone. His Web site includes a detailed demonstration of how to do so.
«I could sit next to you on the subway, and read your chip’s ID. At this point I can break in to your house, by replaying that ID. So now you have to change your ID; but as far as I know, you cannot do this without surgery,» he writes in the demonstration.
Mr. Proctor said that the chip should only be used to augment other security systems. Mr. Darks said thatCityWatcher.com had surveillance cameras guarding its data-storage room and required key cards to get into the building.
The primary use of the VeriChip is medical, Mr. Proctor added. If an un conscious or delirious patient has a Verichip in his forearm, doctors can use its unique code to access whatever medical information he chooses to list on the company’s database. Mr. Proctor said 68 hospitals have agreed to install technology to read the chips, and one was already equipped to do so. He said the company expects 200 hospitals to join the program by the end of 2006.
February 14, 2006

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