August 18, 2017 Radio Commentary

Who Wants to be Microchipped?

Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, August 18, 2017 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler

Eighteen days ago a Wisconsin technology firm implanted tiny rice-sized microchips in 40 of its 50 employees, who then wore T-shirts saying, “I Got Chipped.”  The company said chipped workers can stop wearing badges and log onto computers or buy food in the cafeteria.  Reporters from USA TODAY and a local newspaper were in the company cafeteria to watch a local tattoo artist use a syringe to insert a microchip in one hand of each worker that volunteered to be implanted.  There is no word about the status of the ten workers that did not volunteer.

That reminded me of Georgia legislation that’s been introduced since 2008 to require prior personal consent before a microchip can be implanted.  You might be surprised to know that powerful legislators, repeatedly, refuse to allow such a bill to get to the House floor for a vote.  Therefore, without a law to prevent it, microchip implants could become a requirement in numerous situations, such as employment and healthcare.

Also, you might be surprised to know that prisoners are the only people in Georgia who are legally protected from forcible implants of microchips.  While the House has refused to pass a law preventing forced microchip implantation, the House did pass a 2009 electronic surveillance law that prohibits forced chipping of prisoners.

Microchip implants for medical reasons was mentioned during a hearing at the Capitol when a state Public Health official suggested microchips could have been used to curb the swine flu epidemic.  He referred to a device programmed to remotely track individuals and remotely identify infections they might have, an obvious reference to the microchip FDA classifies as a Class 2 medical device that can remotely track, locate, and identify an implanted individual.  In 2008 Representative Ed Setzler introduced H.B. 940, “The Microchip Consent Act,” that required prior consent before a microchip is implanted in any individual.  The House committee passed his bill, but it never got a vote on the House floor.  In successive years, Representative Setzler introduced three additional bills that would have regulated microchip implants in Georgia, but all of them were stopped in a House committee.

In 2010 Senator Chip Pearson’s S.B. 235, requiring consent for microchip implants, passed the Senate 51-1 and was favorably reported out of a House committee on April 14th. Regardless of whether it was stopped by the House Rules Committee or the House Speaker stopped it, S.B. 235 that passed the Senate with only one negative vote, died without a vote on the House floor.

Although microchip consent bills have failed in Georgia, states such as Virginia, California, Wisconsin, North Dakota and others have banned forced microchip implants.  In less than five months the General Assembly reconvenes, so it’s not too early to ask legislators to prohibit forced microchip implants.    For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.