The government of Mexico is RFID-tagging police in order to combat record high levels of kidnapping and disappearances. About 170 officers are said to have been subcutaneously tagged in their arms with microchips about the size of a rice grain of rice. The chip grants them access to a crime database and becomes a tracking tool in case they're kidnapped.
The first-of-its-kind step shows the lengths to which the Mexican government will go to try to bring safety to the streets. Crime - and how to fight it - has long been a challenge here. Kidnapping is spreading, reaching beyond traditional wealthy targets to the middle class. And in a country where only a quarter of all crimes are reported because of fear that bribed cops will expose informants, securing access to sensitive documents has become a priority.
The chip comes from VeriChip, a subsidiary of Applied Digital Solutions of Palm Beach, Fla. The device is nonremovable (though it can be deactivated) and is slipped under the skin in seconds via a syringe-like device. The chip costs $200, plus $50 a year, in addition to the scanner and software. The technology has existed for years and was originally developed to let pet owners identify stray animals.
The chip sits dormant under the skin and is only "awakened" by a scanner using radio- frequency identification, or RFID. The scanner emits a signal that powers the chip, allowing it to send its identification number. Then, depending on the configuration of the database that is hooked up to the scanner, a door is opened or a database unlocked, the way an ID card allows employees into the office.
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