Human Implanted Microchip Authentication System

Microchip implantation as an authenticating technology, also covers authorization and access control, is gaining more concerns nowadays. This paper introduced some aspects of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. We took a look at the properties and functionalities of implanted microchip authentication systems and problems could happen if physically, financially or technically varied upon circumstance. Lastly we compared implanted microchip with fingerprints, iris scan, and tokens as a measure of authentication.

Table of content


Microchip authentication system properties


What is microchip implantation–definition, and how it authenticates

what are the properties and functions of human microchip authentication system

Briefly describe:

Establishment of the system, ways of injection and manufacturer.

Implementation- how the system works, with respect to authentication, authorization, privacy/ information transmission control, and federation

Development – how it developed from the past and the analysis of the current market, develop /future trend and limitation/challenge (cost effective, public acknowledge, privacy control), maintenance, feedback reporting, issue brought

Comparison with others,advantages, weakness Problems & solution

Security(something you have and something you are), convenience, reliability, fast, information tracking, easily carry

Physical/ medical, health

Technical support & development

Ethical, public acknowledge


Energy source/ replacement

Privacy /info transmission control, read/write, tracking




Microchip implantation as a method of identification has drew a lot of attention in recent years. As the need for more secure and efficient authentication device is emphasized, microchip implantation is becoming very competitive and controversial. Further study in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) with human microchip implantation proves that authenticating an identity without carrying around anything you have or remembering something you might forget is very convenient. Such unique technology cannot be duplicated or forged easily, which makes authenticating processes secure and fast RFID had been used to identify Allied airplanes dated back to World War II. From then on, tracking animals or even items through the supply chain nowadays becomes more commonly used. However, when the technology is extended to humans, huge amount of applications could be developed since microchips have the capability to find lost people, or to determine illegal immigrants or criminals.

Although microchips could accomplish the demand for authentication perfectly when carrying and identifying, it did not have a significant way of managing selected information. Problems and potential threats could also happen if physically, financially or technically varied upon circumstance. The control of information it stores, technical support and demanding equipment of the chip, moreover, moral and legislation enhancement has been brought up. However, there are more potential benefits associated as a controversial technology. This paper mainly discusses authentication system developed by human implanted RFID microchip, in comparisons with some other authentications, and further researches on identity and access management of microchips are presented.


Human microchip implant is a form of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag encased in silicate glass with a size of a grain of rice and injected into human’s body(Figure 1). Usually a subdermal implant involves a unique 16-digit ID number and directs to the information that stored in an external database. The first reported implantation was used to open doors, switch on lights and similar tests in 1998. Some years later in 2004, VeriChip Corporation officially got the approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA) for medical uses in humans. They changed the name of the company to be Positive ID Corporation in 2009, and named the implantable chip to be VeriChip(Microchip implant (human),2010).

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Figure 1

The core of implantable chip is RFID tag, which consists of a microchip with identification codes and an antenna attached to it. Data stored on the chip can be transmitted through the wireless antenna, and can be scanned at varying distances with special reader devices that operates the same frequency as the chip. Different companies run their systems on different frequencies anywhere in a range of 125 KHz to 915 MHz. Although it makes each other unreadable if the readers have different frequencies, it may not be a problem in the future. As passive emitters have no onboard battery, they send signals only when a reader powers them within a certain range, usually a few feet at most(e.g. 30 feet). Active emitters with internal power can have more than a hundred feet of range but require higher expanses. Depending on the manufacturers, chips could store certain amount of data such as name, address, and biometric data like fingerprint and other documents about the person who carries the RFID tag(Kim Zetter, 2005).


Elaine M. Ramesh(N.D.) said in the article “Time Enough? Consequences of Human Microchip Implantation”, microchips could have three readability modes: read only, read-write and read-write with tracking capabilities. She indicates that read only character was not new, and it was thought to be used as an national identification card, and to reduce illegal immigrants. Another form of implanting microchip was to the tooth of a human, and simply scanning the teeth would identify someone. Read-write devices carry information that could be expanded if needed. This type of information is variable and programmable within a distance. For example, it could be modified without removing the implanted chip from human body, and stores large amount of data when required, even financial transactions, and credit card records. Criminal records might be particularly important for some companies when one were to apply for a job, this individual could be quickly “scanned” to view his background. Where this could also to replace the highway toll system with one scan, a bill will be posted to driver’s account. Therefore, read-write type of microchip satisfies many commercial and governmental needs. Tracking is then executable when a read-write device emitted a radio signal. With the implanted microchip, by dialing up the correct signal will be able to track down a certain mobile identity.

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A special scanner is applied to read the unique identification code in the microchip in hospitals sot that medical person could input the code into database to get records for a patient in this most time-saving way especially when the patient is unable to communicate. For security uses, implanted chips can be act as an electronic key to gain highly sensitive accesses or to unlock a car with a wave of the hand or even contactless payment could be achieved(Legislative Briefs, 2006).

RFID signals including all personal privacies like medical history and location can be encrypted, but hosts may be subject to compromise if the RFID database is cracked.. There are a lot of problems microchips potentially have, one problem is that one’s privacy could be severely exposed while scanning; damage to human body when physically under pressure as the chip is planted beneath the skin; battery goes flat or hardware upgrading needs replacement.

In terms of health concerns, some risks of VeriChip reported by FDA were stated in the Legislative Briefs(2006): “adverse tissue reaction, migration of implanted transponder, electromagnetic interference, electrical hazards, and magnetic resonance imaging incompatibility.” Kevin Bonsor and Candace Keener(2007) shows that in 1996, implants could cause cancerous tumors that affect body tissue in lab rats and mice. Although no further approval that cancer may appear on other animals, it still too risky to determine the positive effects on humans.

We found that although microchips could accomplish the demand for authentication perfectly when carrying and identifying, it did not have a significant way of managing selected information. The secret information of the microchip carriers could exposed to unrelated person that works in between the organizations. VeriChip then developed annual fees depending on how much information you would like to store in the database, in addition to a one-time implantation fee(Kevin Bonsor and Candace Keener, 2007).

Elaine M. Ramesh(N.D.)claims that in time microchip implantation would be mandatory although it is now a voluntary system. For sure, an argument of even having driver licence for everyone is not forced, how microchip implantation could overcome the barrier of religious and civil liberty for some people. Elaine quoted from Justice Cardozo that “every human being of adult years and sound mind has a right to determine what shall be done with his own body”. However, after the public knowing its advantages, implantation would not be far away. For example, a growth of 11% number of people agreed to accept health care ID number. Legislative measures must be taken into actions. Firstly, laws should protect weak individuals. Children might need a guardian to help on make decisions, and free to decide whether the implant should be kept at some age. If there is a contract signed, there should also be a way to end it, and even for a short time, the microchip carrier should always be free to install or remove a chip. Lastly, if none of the protection is strong enough to prevent mandatory implantation, the government must at least provide assurances. Furthermore, privacy of customers is always a big issue, they should be able to review their records and to correct them. Even once it takes action finally, a big worry is that massive implantation in human population will lead to large level of abuse(Legislative Briefs, 2006).

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Unlike knowledge-based or object-based authenticators, ID-based authenticators are not easy to forge or lost. Knowledge-based is something you know, commonly password that cannot be shared with others. Object-based is something you have like photo ID or a token that cannot lose. Once something you are, a biometric is compromised, information are not that easy to replace as the previous ones. Typical physical type of biometric authentication is finger print, and iris scan that you are born to be capable of without learning any behaviour. Microchip implant involves both something you have and something you are, which is the highest level of security. However, like most biometric technologies, chips depend on machines. Once the scanning device has some errors occurred, battery went flat, or computing system went down, that all end up with a mess. As Lawrence O’Gorman(2003) stated that there are two types of biometric errors: verification and identification errors. Verification is one-to-one matching made to match against a single identity, where identification is one-to-many matching made to match one person in a database containing records plus many others. Statistics calculated from formulae of Lawrence O’Gorman show that the false nonmatch rate of finger print is in the range of 1%-2%, while iris scan is 0.25%. Iris is more accurate as it has six times more features than fingerprint but it arises more privacy concerns. Microchip is believed to be much less rate of error occuring as it does not have the difficulties of capturing of moving people or one at a certain distance by considering the technology itself only.

Microchip flexibly relies on the chip and a reader, where iris scan requires stable position image taking, high resolution camera and run through large numbers of comparisons in database that are not as quite easy. However, it is undeniable that iris might be a better approach for now due to its lower equipment cost and less human rights arguments. The VeriChip Corporation had been sued regarding hospital figures, and subcutaneous sarcomas had been found around where microchip were implanted in mice Human microchip implantation can be fairly competitive when the devices being widely taken, well tested and universally acceptable in the future.


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