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Chipping In: The Rise and Fall of VeriChip's Human Identification Implant


A lot has changed within biohacking in the last sixteen years. Let's take a look at VeriChip, the only FDA approved human identification RFID implant.

Test Implant Keychain

    In the '90s the practice of implanting pets with RFID identification microchips became a standard, i.e., Spot gets picked up by animal care and control, Spot's microchip gets scanned providing the veterinarian with an ID number linked to an entry in a database, Spot gets returned to their owner based on that ID number and the information in the connected database. Eleven years later, Dr. Richard Seeling watched 9/11 first responders in New York City write their badge numbers on their arms in marker. *lightbulb moment* A few days later Dr. Seeling implanted a pet RFID microchip in his arm, had no significant complications, and thus the idea of the VeriChip was born. 

    Jump ahead to 2004 and the VeriChip has been approved by the FDA for use in medical applications. This approval allowing for identity and blood type confirmation, potential allergies, and medical history of unconscious patients. This information was stored on the Global VeriChip Subscriber (GVS) Registry and was linked to the identification number stored on the implant. Same as when lost, Spot was picked up and taken into the vet. There was an initial implant fee, along with a $9.95 subscription fee. 

Left: VeriChip with BioBond coating
Right: Dangerous Things xLED

    In March 2004, the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona began a VIP program using the VeriChip as an entry fast pass and bar tab tracker. This program lasted between 2004 and 2008 and is no longer active. Fortunately, some of these chippings were recorded live and uploaded to YouTube. In the video, we can see patrons being implanted in the upper arm; however, later on, individuals would have implants placed in the hand as it was found to be of easier accessibility - this echoing the typical placement of implants today. As well as the Baja Beach Club, Mexican government officials and a family in Florida were recipients. Eventually, however, the VeriChip company would be bought and sold numerous times, and the program would cease operations. 

VeriChip Scanner after reading test implant keychain

    What is most interesting about the Verichip program was that this was not only the first widespread consumer usage of RFID implants for human identification purposes but was the only FDA approved option. Looking back into this time frame, we can even see the beginning of the "666 - Microchip - Mark of the Beast" mythos. Unfortunately, even today, this myth is spread with the latest incarnation being that of Bill Gates and the Coronavirus Vaccine implants.

Alphanumeric "Confirmation" of the Mark of the Beast

    Let's take a look at what the VeriChip actually is, though. In the product manual, we find that the device is a 134.2kHz RFID implant and reader. This is also the same frequency that the typical pet implant operates at. The implant itself stores a sixteen-digit ID number that would correspond to the patient's entry in GVS. While the manual does state that the reader also works on 125kHz, I have no been able to get any successful reads at that frequency. For those wondering what the inside of this scanner looks like...

Now that's a coil!

    So, after taking a look at the VeriChip and its history were left with some questions. Is it ethical for a company to sell an RFID identification implant that has little to no functionality once the program ceases? What if an individual no longer wanted the implant or was willing to pay the subscription fee? What, if any, were the long term impacts both physical and mental on recipients? Will we ever see a consumer-grade FDA approved RFID identification solution again? Should we, as biohackers, be doing more to lead and inform companies and governments regarding implants?


  1. These are actually great for Pen Testers working a client target site for security penetration analysis. :-P


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