FDA Permits Controversial Chip for Security, ID Applications

SAN FRANCISCO—Wired news reports that, in a surprise decision, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has permitted the use of implantable ID chips in humans, despite an FDA investigator’s recent public reservations about the devices.

In October, the FDA sent Applied Digital Solutions (ADS), the company that makes the VeriChip, a letter stating that the agency would not regulate the chip if it were used for “security, financial and personal identification or safety applications,” according to ADS. The chip is slightly larger than a grain of rice and emits a 125KHz RF signal that can be picked up by a scanner up to four feet away.

ADS President Scott Silverman adds that that the company will be focusing on the security and ID aspects of the microchip. In the United States, ADS has principally marketed VeriChip as a life-saving tool. “We’ll now go into high gear with our sales, marketing and distribution plans in the U.S.,” he says.

Silverman says security applications could include using the chip to control access to sensitive structures such as nuclear power plants, government buildings or private businesses. This is in addition to using the chip for ID applications to humans; for example, “chipping” an Alzheimer’s patient who suffers memory loss and wanders away from home.

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