Saturday, February 10, 2007

Senator Introduces Bill to Criminalize Human Microchipping

Mark Schlachtenhaufen
Capitol Network News
Friday, February 9, 2007

OKLAHOMA CITY - A Senate committee Thursday debated legislation that would prevent state government from forcing the implantation of a microchip in humans.

SB 47, by Sen. Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, prohibits the forced implantation of a microchip in humans and authorizes the Department of Health to impose a maximum fine of $10,000 against violators. Each day of continued violation would constitute a separate offense. Members of the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee gave the bill a “Do Pass” recommendation, sending the measure on to the full Senate.

The 6-2 vote in support of the bill came after some lively debate, which included a reference to George Orwell. Crain said the measure, a constituent request, was about preventing the forced implantation of microchips in humans, an attempt to put Oklahoma’s state government ahead of developments in similar technology being utilized today. He said forced implantation by the state of individuals would an intrusion of personal liberty. The bill makes it a violation of public policy, Crain said.

“I think this is a novel bill about addressing technological issues,” he said.

Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, said she had some concerns about issues related to “Big Brother” and wanted to get on the books a state law protecting individual rights passed.

Orwell wrote the 1949 novel “Nineteen Eighty-four,” the story of Winston Smith and his degradation by the totalitarian state in which he lives. “Big Brother” is a fictional character in the novel, which depicts a society in which everybody is under complete surveillance by the authorities, spawning the phrase “Big Brother is watching you.” After voicing her desire that more work needed to be done on the language in the bill, Johnson said she would vote for the measure. Crain said he would welcome input.

Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, asked Crain if he had any knowledge of microchips being used by hospitals or other companies. Crain said he had no specific knowledge, but he cited Verichip, a Delray Beach, Florida company that created the first FDA-approved human-implantable radio frequency identification (RFID).

Verichip sells a passive RFID device that does not contain any data besides a unique 16-digit electronic identifier. The grain-sized microchip is delivered like a shot in the arm, and it is used for in-room applications like rapid, secure patient identification offered by the company, not for tracking. Verichip claims that “thousands” of individuals are using its microchip without problems. Other types of microchips also are being used to track pets and large farm animals.

Crain said using microchips in a hospital is one thing, requiring it another. Patient identification, infant protection, “wander prevention” and asset tracking are among the uses listed by Verichip. Sen. Kathleen Wilcoxson, R-Oklahoma City, pointed out that someone could take such a law and expand it to something else. Wilcoxson suggested adding language to the bill related to Crain’s assertion that the technology’s applications included use in hospitals and by certain companies.


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