Virginia legislators claimed victory today against implantable microchips by passing a bill that prevents employers or insurance companies from forcing patients to accept the devices. Privacy topped the reasons for concern, but the bill’s sponsor also saw the microchips as the “mark of the beast,” according to the Washington Post.
Presumably most of the 88 legislators who voted in favor of the bill did so because of privacy concerns (just nine voted nay, and there was one abstention). Virginia also does not stand alone in taking a dim view of forced microchip implants — several states such as Wisconsin and Georgia have also approved similar bans.
But the bill also took on religious overtones due a belief shared by some fundamentalist Christians that microchips may represent the marks described in the Book of Revelation. It’s a view supported by Mark Cole, the Virginia delegate who sponsored the bill.
That has allowed some critics to complain that the bill represented a “sideshow” that distracts from more pressing concerns, such as Virginia’s $4 billion budget gap.
Microchips have also found growing use in medical applications such as helping to reverse blindness. But the implantable microchips that seem to worry people the most involve those that would somehow track or monitor people.
For instance, a UK school experimented with having students wear RFID chips on their bodies to track their movements. Microchips have also become popular in certain regions of the world where kidnapping poses a major threat.
Regardless of religious belief, most people can probably agree that no one wants a corporation or government to forcibly implant microchips. But that doesn’t mean plenty of patients couldn’t benefit from a chip on their shoulder reminding them of when to take their pills.
[via Washington Post]