BBC News

Thursday, 4 April, 2002, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK

US accepts 'Big Brother' chip implant

A company in the US has been given the go-ahead to implant a chip that would contain both personal and medical information.

But it seems the permission has been given indirectly.

The US Food and Drug Administration has indicated that it does not consider the chip, made by Applied Digital Solutions (ADS), a medical device, and as a consequence it does not feel it falls under its jurisdiction, according to the company.

The chip, called VeriChip, has been criticised by anti-intrusion campaigners for its 'Big Brother' capabilities.

Emergency help

Applied Digital Solutions have hit back, insisting that the radio signals emitted from the rice grain-sized chip could benefit patients in emergency situations, especially when they are unconscious or otherwise unable to inform medics about known conditions.

"VeriChip is a ready source of data about the patient's name and condition as well as the medical device's original components, required settings and other essential parameters," the company said.

"Future applications may include full medical record archival/retrieval for emergency medical care."

"With VeriChip, Applied Digital has taken another significant step in developing leading-edge personal security technologies for a rapidly evolving marketplace," said chairman and chief executive Richard Sullivan.

Commercial potential

The company hopes to make money from the chip by selling it for about $200 (£140).
A scanner which would be able to decipher the information contained in the chip would cost between $1,000 and $3,000.