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The dreaded implantable-chip

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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.

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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

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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.

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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:

"A school district in California, for example, recently used Radio Frequency ID technology, to bring GPS surveillance to student ID cards." 13

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.

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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:

"On at least three separate occasions between October 2005 and January 2006, cleared defense contractor's employees traveling through Canada have discovered radio frequency transmitters embedded in Canadian coins placed on their persons."

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:

bulletThe person being tracked would most likely spend the coins within hours or days.
bulletThe monitoring group would have to have a massive network of readers to track the individual wherever she or he went in the second largest country in the world.

It is surprising that such a nonsensical idea got as far as to be included in this agency's annual report. 17

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What RFID tags are capable of doing:

The RFID-101.com web site lists four frequency ranges at which RFID systems operate:

bullet125 to 148 KHz: These are used mainly in animal identification. They cost about $1.00 and have a range of 3 feet/1 meter.
bullet13.56 MHz: These are used in library book identification, clothing identification and smart cards, and also have a range of 3 feet/1 meter.
bullet915 MHz: These are used in industrial tracking of containers or trailers. They have a range of about 25 feet or 8 meters.
bullet2.45 GHz: These are used for automated highway toll collection or vehicle fleet identification and have a range of about 100 feet or 30 meters. 15

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.

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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.

bulletReligious liberals and secularists generally interpret the book:
bulletAllegorically: The events in the book are to be understood figuratively and symbolically, not as real events. 2
bulletHistorically (a.k.a. Preterism): The events have already happened and represent persecution of Christians by the Roman government in the early history of the church. The purpose of Revelation was to improve morale among believers in the early Christian movement who were intermittently oppressed. 2
bulletDevoid of meaning: It is based on nightmares, hallucinations or visions by the author. It is unrelated to past, present or future events.
bulletFundamentalist and some other Evangelical Protestants who believe in the inerrancy of the bible, often interpret passages in Revelation:
bulletProphetically: Many believe in Dispensational Premillennialism: This is similar to the ancient belief of Premillennialism that was rejected as a heresy by the early Church. It was reintroduced circa 1830 CE by John N. Darby, and has since became accepted by many conservative Protestants. They believe that the events in Revelation have yet to occur, but are anticipated in our very near future. The end times will unfold exactly as specified:
bulletJesus will appear in the sky.
bulletBelievers (alive and dead) will be raptured; they will rise to meet Jesus in the sky).
bulletThere will be a seven year period of great suffering, called the Tribulation.
bulletJesus will return with an army to fight the war of Armageddon.
bulletJesus will then rule for 1,000 years.

This is the interpretation of Revelation that is seen as including the concept of an implanted identity chip.

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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.

bulletRevelation 13:16-17 states that the Antichrist will require everyone to receive a mark on their body. The option is to commit suicide by starving to death, because no person without the mark will be able to buy food: The passage is translated in the King James Version of the Bible as: "And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads. And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." 3 Unfortunately, various translations of the Bible differ on exactly where the mark is located:
bulletThe King James Version specifies in their hand or in their forehead.
bulletThe Amplified Version says on their hand or on their forehead. So does the New American Bible, New American Standard Bible, New International Bible, New Revised Standard Version, and Today's New International Version.
bulletThe Rheims New Testament says in their hand or on their forehead.

A mark on the skin might be in the form of a brand or tattoo; a mark in the hand or forehead might possibly be interpreted as implying an implantable chip.

bulletRevelation 14:9-11 states that God will express his hatred of anyone who accepted the mark of the beast. Such individuals will be tortured in Hell for all eternity, in the presence of Jesus (described here as the Lamb) and the angels. The text is not clear whether Jesus is present in Hell to personally torture the captives, or supervise the punishment, or merely to observe it. The text reads: "And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name."
bulletAdditional references to the mark of the beast is found in Revelation 15:2; 16:1-2; 19:20; and 20:4.

Conservative Protestants have suggested that the mark of the beast may take the form of:

bulletA tattoo, perhaps an invisible mark that can only be detected by some special equipment
bulletA branding of the skin.
bulletA cashless society in which all financial transactions are done by debit and credit cards.
bulletAn identity chip implanted under the skin. 4

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.

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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:
bulletThe Mark of the Beast website states: "Relaying a steady stream of data on the location and health of its host to ground stations using the Global Positioning System (GPS), the dime-sized chip is intended to be worn externally, such as on a wristwatch or implanted under the skin." 5
bulletGreater Things web site reported that: "Implanted Electronic Tag Can Track Terrorist Suspects - A tiny chip, implanted under the skin, that can track the location of terrorist suspects; 'Big Brother' device raises serious questions for civil liberties, as governments could use it to track innocent people." 6
bulletTexe Marrs, in his book Project L.U.C.I.D. stated that "In 1995, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said that young Prince William, heir to the British Throne, had a microchip implanted somewhere in his anatomy to discourage would-be kidnappers." 7
bulletDr. Carl W. Sanders is alleged to have appeared on TV, over radio, in churches, and at prophecy conferences for over a decade, explaining how he created an implantable microchip that would track an individual's location. He allegedly claimed to have been born-again, or saved. This apparently motivated him to reveal to the world the danger that the chip represented. In 1994, a close associate, John S. Torell, is reported to have detected that Sander's doctorate, his 32 years of engineering experience, his meetings with Henry Kissinger, and his leadership of a 100 person team of engineers who developed an implantable chip, never happened. Saunders allegedly pleaded for forgiveness, promised to confess his deception to his church, and decided to take a reprieve from the ministry. 8
bulletJack Van Impe's web site contains a reference to "the Digital Angel-the new, dime-sized implantable transceiver whose manufacturer, the NASDAQ-traded Applied Digital Solutions, intends its global use for the tracking and monitoring of humans. Emitting a homing beacon that can be tracked by global positioning system satellites, it is being marketed as the ultimate, tamper-proof means of personal identification. When implanted in your body, the device is powered electromechanically through the movement of muscles, and it can be activated either by the 'wearer' or by a monitoring facility." 9 This essay shows a profound lack of understanding of the GPS. In fact, any earth-bound tracking device does not transmit a homing signal to GPS satellites. Rather, the GPS satellites broadcast continual signals to all tracking devices on earth. These errors are regrettable because many of the visitors to Impe's web site will probably assume that his essays are carefully researched; and they will be misinformed. We have sent a number of Emails to Impe's web site, suggesting that they correct the error. They have not responded.

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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Related essays and menus in this web site:

bulletMenu: Christian Urban Legends
bulletThe Christian Scriptures: Revelation

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  1. "Implantable-chip company attacks WND: Digital Angel accusations come as Whistleblower exposé is published," WorldNetDaily, 2002-APR-2, at: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/
  2. P.N. Benware, "Survey of the New Testament," Moody Press, Chicago IL (1990)
  3. Book of Revelation, King James Version of the Christian Scriptures (New Testament).
  4. David Loughran, "The Mark of the Beast," at: http://atschool.eduweb.co.uk/
  5. "The Mark of the Beast," Bible-Prophecy.com at: http://www.bible-prophecy.com/
  6. "Human implants already here," GreaterThings.com™, at: http://www.greaterthings.com/
  7. Texe Marrs, "Project  L.U.C.I.D.: The Beast 666 Universal Human Control System," Rivercrest Publishing (1996), Page 111. Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
  8. "Implantable Chip 'Inventor' Carl Sanders is a Fraud: Charlatan exposed seven years ago still popular in Christian circles," at: http://www.greaterthings.com/
  9. Jack Van Impe, "Mark of the Beast technology," at: http://www.jvim.com/
  10. Peter Dana, "Global Positioning System Overview," at: http://www.colorado.edu/ This essay describes the GPS system and how it works.
  11. "Company to sell implantable chip," Associated Press, 2002-APR-4, at:  http://story.news.yahoo.com/
  12. The VeriChip™ web site is at: http://www.4verichip.com/
  13. Top 5 End Times Signs of 2005?," Left Behind Series, 2005-DEC-01, at: http://www.leftbehind.com/
  14. Marc Perton, "California school mandates RFID tags for students," Engadget, 2005-FEB-12, at: http://www.engadget.com/
  15. "RFID system frequency ranges," RDIF-101, at: http://www.rfid-101.com/
  16. From an editorial in the Edmonton Journal for 2006-JUN-14. Edited and published in the editorial page of the Toronto Star, 2006-JUN-14.
  17. "Canadian 'spy coin' claim isn't worth plugged nickel," The Toronto Star, 2007-JAN-14, Page A4.

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Copyright © 2002 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Creation date: 2002-APR-2
Last update: 2007-JAN-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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