Former Bush official to get RFID tag

It should get a lot easier to follow Tommy Thompson around once he gets a VeriChip implanted.

Tommy Thompson, the Health and Human Services Secretary in President Bush's first term and a former Governor of Wisconsin, is going to get tagged.

Thompson has joined the board of Applied Digital, which owns VeriChip , the company that specializes in subcutaneous RFID tags for humans and pets .

To help promote the concepts behind the technology, Thompson himself will get an RFID tag implanted under his skin.

Human RFID tags have emerged as one of the more controversial technologies in years. Civil libertarians theorize that the chips will allow governments or corporations to track people's movement and behavior. Some Christians have said the chips are so evil they fulfill a biblical prophesy about satanic influences .

Advocates, on the other hand, say the chips will contain personal information that will help medical professionals and others provide emergency treatment. The chip provides a form of identification that's tough to lose. By clicking the number found on the chip into a password-restricted database, paramedics can get an accident victim's medical history in the field. (One of VeriChip's scientists came up with the idea of using the company's pet RFID tags on people after watching rescue workers struggle to find the missing after the Sept. 11 tragedy.)

Prisons and jails are also experimenting with RFID bracelets and continual tracking to reduce inmate violence .

"We are all well aware of the need to enhance Information Technology in healthcare," Thompson said in a prepared statement. "It is my belief that VeriChip is an important and secure means of accessing medical records and other information. I look forward to working with the company as it continues its growth."

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    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.

     

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