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What Kind of Surgery Would Be Necessary to Remove an RFID Microchip Under the Skin?

Posted By RFID Journal, 07.24.2014

Would it be possible to clone the RFID signal from a human-implanted chip?

—Name withheld


I am not a doctor, so I can't really say much about the surgery involved, except that an RFID transponder is embedded in the subcutis or hypodermis, which is below the epidermis and dermis sections of the skin. It is not very deep—around the roots of hair follicles—so I believe a doctor could simply make a small incision in your arm, right at his or her office, and put a stitch or two in the incision.

As for cloning the signal, I should start by pointing out that an RFID transponder under the skin does not broadcast a signal. It has no power source. When a reader comes within about a foot and emits energy, the tag will respond, as long as the tag and reader are using the same frequency and air-interface protocol (the language tags and readers use to communicate). The transponder will reflect back energy to the reader to communicate a serial number stored on the chip.

It is possible to write the same serial number onto two different chips (depending on the way in which the chip was made) so that the chip can be copied. This is usually referred to as cloning the chip, not the signal. A sophisticated RF engineer could probably also create a device to mimic the radio waves from a specific chip. But given that the read range is only a foot or so, it would be difficult to fool someone into thinking he or she was reading the transponder in someone's arm when, in fact, the signal was actually coming from an RF device.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal

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