By Ernie Suggs
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution5:14 p.m. Thursday, February 4, 2010
The Senate voted Thursday to protect Georgians from evildoers, covert corporations and rogue doctors, seen and unseen, with the passage of a bill that would make it illegal to implant a microchip into someone without their permission.
The bill, ironically sponsored by Sen. Chip Pearson (R-Dawsonville) and Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, would make it a misdemeanor to implant someone against their will with a microchip, sensor, transmitter or other tracking device. The Senate passed the bill 47-2.
“We are sending the message that Georgia is committed to upholding its citizens’ constitutional rights and protection of their person,” Pearson said. “Advances in technology are moving fast, and while most of these are for the good, we must be careful that it doesn’t come at the harm of citizens.”
But is this really a problem in Georgia?
Pearson said that he knows of no case in Georgia where someone has been involuntarily microchipped. He added that during his preliminary meetings on the bill, no one came to complain about it, and he has heard of no conspiracy plots or theories to put implants in massive amounts of Georgians. The notion that legions of people have been forcibly implanted by the government, aliens or nefarious corporations runs rampant throughout the Internet and in science fiction movies. Think Neo and his forced implantation by Agent Smith in "The Matrix."
“I have no firsthand knowledge of anything,” Pearson said. “I am simply trying to get ahead of this and protect the people. We don’t know what is going to happen.”
Pearson added that any information put inside a chip and then implanted into someone’s body can just as easily be stored somewhere above the skin.
“The benefits of a microchip that can be internally implanted are also available in many external forms,” Pearson said.
There have been a handful of corporations worldwide that have begun developing technology to inject people with implantable devices. In 2004, the VeriChip was approved by the FDA. Proponents say that implantable chips could help in identifying victims of major tragedies like Sept. 11 or the Haitian earthquake, or even wandering Alzheimer’s patients.
Pearson’s bill would clear the way for people who want implants. The bill does not prevent anyone from being able to voluntarily have a microchip implanted -- as long as the implantation is performed by a doctor and is regulated by the Georgia Composite Medical Board.
But opponents say that the devices can lead to unwanted surveillance and even cancer. There are some who say that it has religious implications and that the implantable devices are the "Mark of the beast."
If the bill, SB 235, gets past the state House, Georgia would join Wisconsin, North Dakota and California as states that have passed laws prohibiting the forced implantation of microchips in people.
Pearson said the bill has actually been floating around the Capitol for several years. In 2007, Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) introduced a bill in the House that didn’t go anywhere.
Pearson is hoping that his bill will be received favorably in the House.
But some critics of the bill wonder what the point is.
“This is a solution in search of a problem,” said Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta), one of only two senators to vote against it, along with Sen. Ronald Ramsey (D-Decatur). “We are spending our precious time -- with a billion-and-a-half-dollar deficit -- with something that is not a problem.”