CHRISTIAN URBAN LEGENDS
The dreaded implantable-chip
Advanced sub-dermal implantable devices have been developed that can be inserted under a person's skin and used for identification purposes. Each device contains a unique numerical code that can be read by a portable scanning device from a distance of a few feet. Such devices have been used for some years to track dogs and other household pets. They are typically implanted under the neck skin of the animal. When the number is read by a portable, hand-held scanner, it can be used to consult a central data base and extract information about the pet, and its owner.
Some civil liberty and personal privacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) consider these devices would become a threat to individual freedom and privacy, if they become implanted into humans. The ACLU called this usage of the chips on humans "an outrage." The Black Radical Congress, called it "a fascist technology." 1
Applied Digital Solutions Inc. has designed the VeriChip™, but did not market it for human application pending a review by the FDA. The FDA decided on 2002-APR-4 that it was an identification device, not a medical device. It works like the pet tracking device. It only provides an identification number, not actual medical or other data. The company expects to mass produce the chip and sell them for about $200. A scanner that is capable of reading the number in the chip costs between $1,000 and $3,000. 11, 12
Although the ACLU and conservative Christian groups have traditionally been bitter enemies, they both share concern over these devices. 1 Many conservative Protestants interpret the devices as the "mark of the beast" which was prophesized in the book of Revelation. Some believe that implantable chips are already available that will transmit their own position on earth, and thus reveal the location of the person wearing the chip to a government agency. The devices are believed to be roughly the size of a grain of rice. Fortunately for the cause of individual freedom, the implantable human satellite tracking device is a figment of people's imagination. It is not technically possible to build such a device with today's technology. It is a Christian urban legend -- a belief that many religious conservatives have, but which is not grounded in reality.
Use of the implants in humans:
In the meantime, these chips are occasionally being inserted into humans. The Graafstra couple in Vancouver, BC have had chips implanted that they use to trigger their door locks in their house. They also use them to unlock their computers in the place of passwords. A few hundred doctors in the U.S. have bought chips for implantation in their patients. The hope is that if the patients become ill and are taken to hospital emergency rooms, they can be positively identified and their medical history downloaded. Verichip suggests that they might be used in the future to verify credit card purchases, and to identify immigrants and guest workers.
The state of Wisconsin passed a law during 2006-MAY making it illegal to require an individual to receive a microchip. 16
Confusion between implantable chips and wearable tracking devices:
These implantable chips, as discussed in many conservative Christian venues, seem to have been confused with an entirely different device: a wearable tracking-pager device. The latter are worn on the wrist like a massive watch. They are quite bulky, being roughly the size of a small cell phone. The tracking part of the device is capable of inputting data from Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites, determining the wearer's precise location on earth, and transmitting that data to a remote location. The device also incorporates a pager to alert the person wearing the device. It is being sold primarily to parents who want to track the location of their children. A second potential market is for individuals with Alzheimer's and similar diseases, who might wander off and become lost.
Misinformation on the 'Left Behind' series web site:
Unfortunately, a number of conservative Christian mailing lists, news sources, web sites, etc. have apparently confused the two devices. A typical example is found in the Left Behind® web site. It stated, on 2006-APR-16:
The implication is that the school's student ID cards contain tags that communicate with the Global Positioning System (GPS), continually compute the location on earth of the card within a few meters or yards, and then transmit the information back to the school monitoring equipment. One has the impression that someone in the school could determine which students were in each room, who was at the nearby mall, who was in the north-east corner of the playground, who was on vacation in Europe, etc.
However, this is not true. The reference to an unidentified school district in California may be to the Brittan Elementary School in Sutter, CA. The school entered into a financial arrangement with the manufacturer to supply Radio Frequency Identification-based (RFID) student ID cards. These are read by portable scanners or with fixed scanners in doorways. 14
Some conservative Christian web sites and news sources continue to suggest that the technology in the large, wearable tracking-pager devices has been shrunk down to the size of a grain of rice so that it can be implanted under the skin or embedded to an ID card. Such a development is quite impossible with today's technology. The confusion is causing much alarm among individual conservative believers. Some skeptics and manufacturers of sub-dermal implantable devices have accused conservative Christian information sources of "intentionally publishing false statements." 1 We suspect that there is little or no truth in this accusation. It may well be some conservative Christian information sources picking up information from another Christian group that they trust and republishing it without first having checked its accuracy.
Claims of "spy coins" in Canada:
The Virginia-based Defense Security Service, a U.S. government defense agency, claimed in their 2006 annual report that:
The agency was concerned that the specially doctored coins were being used to steal sensitive military technology or to track defense industry personnel.
On 2007-JAN-12. the Defense Security Service posted a statement on their web site stating that the coin claims were based on a report provided to the agency which was later found to be unsubstantiated.
There are two problems that would make the use of RFID tags embedded in coins impractical and unreliable:
It is surprising that such a nonsensical idea got as far as to be included in this agency's annual report. 17
What RFID tags are capable of doing:
The RFID-101.com web site lists four frequency ranges at which RFID systems operate:
In each case, a portable or fixed scanner within range of the RFID tag sends the tag a signal; the tag returns a signal to the scanner, and the scanner decodes the tag's unique number.
These are vaguely similar to the tags found in merchandise sold by clothing stores, books stores, etc. However, here the tag does not transmit a number back to the scanner; it only indicates its presence as shoplifters attempt to leave the premises.
Interpretation of Revelation:
The book of Revelation is the final entry in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament). It is the main example of apocalyptic literature in the Bible -- i.e. material dealing with the end of the world as we know it. A main theme of Revelation is the wrath or hatred of God towards those individuals who are not Christians, or perhaps to those who were once Christians but have not remained true to the faith.
Revelation is a confusing book. There are at least four approaches to its interpretation.
Implantable devices, the Bible, and the "Mark of the Beast:"
Revelation describes how an evil individual will rise and dominate the world economically, religiously and politically. He is called the Antichrist. Dispensational Premillennialists believe that he will create a one-world economy, religion and government.
Conservative Protestants have suggested that the mark of the beast may take the form of:
Many conservative Protestants monitor political and scientific developments in an attempt to sense when Jesus will appear and the rapture will happen. Some of their web sites are closely following the implantable chip concept, because they feel that it may indicate how soon Jesus' second coming will happen.
More conservative Protestants and the imaginary implantable GPS chip:Numerous conservative Protestant web sites teach that an implantable chip which can track the location of individuals is currently available . Such a device would be rather complex. It would have to detect radio signals from four Global Positioning System satellites, 10 compute its location on earth, and transmit the location data and its identification number to a receiver many miles away. A few web sites that discuss this type of nonexistent implantable chip are described below:
It would seem that one or more conservative Protestant web sites confused the large, wearable world-wide child/adult tracking device with the tiny, implantable, short-range, transponder chip that was developed to identify pets. They took the functionality of the child-locater and assumed that the implantable chip can perform in a similar fashion. Then, other conservative Christian web sites seem to have picked up the error, and passed it on to their readers without checking the story for accuracy.
This may have happened in the case of WorldNetDaily (WND). According to a WND report for 2002-APR-2, "The media-relations consultant for Applied Digital Solutions and its subsidiary, Digital Angel.net, Inc., has accused WorldNetDaily of intentionally publishing false statements about the company and its products. In e-mail communications to WorldNetDaily, public relations representative Matthew Cossolotto charges, 'Your reporters always seem to get the story wrong … perhaps because they never bother to check on the facts before going to press,' even suggesting that WND reporters 'intend on getting it wrong to sensationalize the story.' " 1
WorldNetDaily describes themselves as "a fiercely independent newssite [sic] committed to hard-hitting investigative reporting of government waste, fraud and abuse." Judging by their articles on the Bible, abortion access and equal rights for gays and lesbians, the news service is decidedly very conservative, and Protestant.
Applied Digital Solutions produces the child locator system.
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