THURSDAY-SUNDAY
August 9-12, 2001
volume 12, no. 141

The Digital Angel Implant

Beware of Geeks Bearing Gifts

by John Vennari, editor of Catholic Family News

    On October 30, 2000, Applied Digital Solutions Inc., [ADS] successfully unveiled in New York a prototype of the Digital Angel; a microchip designed to be implanted under the skin, capable of tracking the location and vital signs of humans anywhere on the globe.

    During the invitation-only demonstration, the temperature of a man about 50 miles from Manhattan was monitored before a large crowd of analysts, journalists and potential investors.

    On June 8, 2001, ADS announced that it has begun its first production run of Digital Angel devices.

    Delivery and beta testing was scheduled to commence around July 15, and planned to enlist the support of a limited number of pre-registered subscribers in other "key vertical markets."

    This test group will have access to Digital Angel technology for a full 90 days ahead of the general population and will provide input from real-life situations and experiences. General delivery for Digital Angel is scheduled for October 2001.

    Digital Angel bills itself as "the first-ever combination of advanced bio-sensor technology and web-enabled wireless telecommunications linked to Global Positioning Systems." [G.P.S.- military satellites positioned around the globe.]

    In May 2000, former president Clinton ordered the military to stop scrambling the satellite signals civilian G.P.S. products used. Now consumer G .P.S. devices are as accurate as the military units, with the ability to locate positions within 1 to 3 meters.

    Along with pinpointing a person's location, Digital Angel utilizes advanced bio-sensor capabilities. This enables it to monitor key bodily functions-----such as temperature and pulse----- and transmit that data, along with accurate location information, to a ground station or monitoring facility.

    According to Business Week, Digital Angel is expected to tap into an addressable North American marketplace estimated to exceed 70 billion.

    US soldiers were also thought of as a potential client.

    The device was originally touted as a dime-size device to be implanted inside of humans between the muscle and the skin on the forearm. Various writers, both Catholic and Protestant, observed that the implant bears a disconcerting resemblance to the "mark" predicted in Apocalypse 13:16-18: "And he [Antichrist] shall make all, both little and great, rich and poor, freemen and bondmen, to have a character in their right hand, or on their foreheads. And that no man might buy or sell, but he that hath the character or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."

    The American Family Association, a Protestant group, recently denounced the invention as the biblical "mark of the beast." One report said this negative "right-wing" reaction was probably responsible for a plummet in ADS share price. As of July 1, its shares, traded on NASDAQ, had fallen from a high of $5.00 to just 50 cents.

    For the moment, the company is playing down the human-implant side of its technology. Instead, ADS plans to release the chip inside of a wristwatch in October of this year. The package also comes with a device like a beeper which clips to the belt and holds the technology linked to the G.P.S. Each device will cost $300.00 plus a monthly fee which is based upon the level of service.

    If this is successful, according to the London Independent, the company intends to start implanting them inside humans next year.

    Because Digital Angel monitors a person's whereabouts and vital statistics, it is marketed as something that could be implanted into children so that parents would know where they are, to heart-patients, and to those who suffer from Alzheimers Disease. In fact, the chip can send an automatic 911 alert if the vital signs become alarming.

    Employing cutting-edge G .P.S. technology , the device relays information over the Internet so that "authorized users" [or anyone clever enough to gain access] can monitor a person's location and physical health. The information can be viewed on a PC or laptop computer.

    One writer noted, "the angel pinpoints your whereabouts so that you could even be found in a cave in South America."

    There is also talk of placing the device inside items such as valuable paintings and expensive racehorses to transmit their whereabouts if stolen.

    Christina Wood, writing in the June 26 PC Magazine had her druthers about the futuristic technology.

    "Call me a cynic," she said, "but I can't help wonder: If I can track my child and my stuff, what's to stop someone else from tracking me? At the moment, very little. And that's the rub. The Wireless Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999 applies here and requires 'express prior authorization' before any data can be collected about you, but there are no clear rules governing the act's enforcement."

    She continued, "Even if you put aside your various fears, such as hostile government agencies, stalkers, mob hit men, jealous spouses, and other paranoid delusions, it still seems likely that some aggressive merchants would pay dearly to know that you drive past their stores every day."

    The Center for Technology and Democracy [and other civil-rights groups] has petitioned the FCC to implement regulations governing "location information" practices, but in the meantime, "what happens to the juicy knowledge about your activities is up to the company that sold you the service."

    In fact, James X. Dempsey from the Center for Democracy and Technology lamented "there are no laws on the books" regarding a standard for government access to location information and that "we need to have some clear-cut privacy rules."

    Laws protecting an individual's privacy, however, will only be honored in a country fortunate enough to have a law-abiding government.

    At present, the implant chip is powered by a special battery. In the near future ADS hopes to perfect technology wherein the chip will run off body heat.

    Peter Zhou, the chief scientist for development of the implant, tries to disparage the chip's Apocalyptic semblance. "There are different interpretations of the Bible. Anything to improve the quality of life is from God." So goes his shallow reassurances.

    He also claims that wearing the device is optional. It is not unthinkable, however, that it can become compulsory. For starters, what's to stop powerful Insurance Companies from forcing the implantation of the device into the elderly or chronically ill as requirement for medical coverage?

    What will prevent these companies from coercing parents to implant the chip into their sons and daughters as a prerequisite for the children to be included in family medical policies?

    Zhou also said "This is not a tracking device, this is not 'big brother,' and it is only used as a monitoring device."

    PC Magazine noted, however, that tracking is exactly what these devices will do. Speaking of another wristwatch/G.P.S. gadget called "Wherify" the magazine said that these new chips "will be able to tell you where your kid, notebook, or shipment has been. For example, you can have Wherify follow your daughter's movements after school to be assured she's on track."

    "Will Big Brother one day monitor your every move?" asks Business Week magazine. It then alleges "we are a long way from that point." Nonetheless, it admits, "for the first time it is starting to become technologically and economically feasible to track people down at all hours."

    Sent to us by Gary Morella and reprinted from the August Issue of Catholic Family News. Complied from "Big Brother Calling," Business Week, Sept. 25, 2000; "Futuristic Digital Angel Chip Can Track People Via Satellite," The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Oct. 31, 2000; "Digital Angel Watches over New Product Launch," Long Island : Business News, May 25, 2001; "Digital Angel Commences First Production Run," Business Wire June 8, 2001; "Digital Angel," Fortune, June 25, 2001; "Track it Down," PC Magazine, June 26, 2001; "Digital Angel Implant Technology Designed to Thwart the Evil Spirits," London Independent, July 1, 2001.


August 9-12, 2001
volume 12, no. 141
SIGNS that cause one to WONDER
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