Microchip implant

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Mark Gasson voluntarily getting a microchip implant in 2009
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A microchip implant is a computer microchip implanted into the human body (or other animals). There are various conspiracy theories that suggest different organisations have been secretly implanting chips into human beings allowing them to be tracked or even to exert direct control over the human body. There are legitimate civil liberties concerns about states or employers forcing people to have implants, and using them to track people, but so far there have been no large-scale programs and only a few tech enthusiasts have had implants.

Proponents of conspiracy theories typically attribute vast powers to such devices, as being able to track people internationally. In reality, while electronics can do a lot, there are practical limits. There is also the problem that implants would show up on scanners such as X-rays, millimeter rays (used in airports), and metal detectors — positing advanced alien technology can get around this, but it's less likely that Microsoft is using secret technology in their trackers that is much better than that found in any publicly available electronics.

Actual implants[edit]

Small microchips are widely used for many applications, and it is possible to implant them under the skin and read with a suitable scanner held against the skin.


There are two relevant types of small electronic device: a passive chip receives electrical power from a reader held nearby, which provides sufficient energy to run basic operations while in range. This is used in Radio-frequency identificationWikipedia (RFID) devices and many smart cardsWikipedia. Smart cards are often used for security and identity verification, such as smart bank cards (for which the leading standard is EMVWikipedia), hotel door entry cards, public transit passes, and other security devices. You probably have multiple such items in your possession.

In contrast, active devices have more computing power and more communications capacity, but must have a small power supply. If you want to have a device broadcast data (either continuously or at regular intervals) without placing them next to a card reader, you need a battery. Anything involving mobile phone technology (such as the mythical 5G implant of some conspiracy theories) would fit in this category.[1] Active devices are larger due to the necessity for this power, but increased computing capacity or additional aerials would also require a larger device. If you are to track someone widely, you need something like this, although you are limited by battery life, which in a small device will be hours or days (passive chips last until the electronics degrade). A well-known non-implantable example is Apple's AirTag, which incorporates a small battery and wideband wireless technology, allowing it to communicate with nearby iPhones and other electronic devices.[2] Although the AirTag is small, one would still probably notice if it was implanted under one's skin.


Microchip implants are widely used for the following:

  • Pet tracking and identification — passive implants described as "the size of a grain of rice" are implanted into dogs and other pets, at a particular spot on their body, allowing a scanner held up against the implant location to read the dog's owner's information. They are inserted into an animal using a syringe or gun (similar to an ear-piercing gun) that penetrates the skin.[3]
  • Other animals — similar technology can be used to track livestock (important in controlling disease), and to identify and track wild animals ("Where did this swan come from?").

They have also been used in an experimental way in humans. British academic Kevin WarwickWikipedia claimed to be the first person in the world to have one fitted, having a passive device 23mm long and 3mm wide installed in 1998.[4] Wikipedia lists several other enthusiasts who have had similar procedures.[5] This does mean you will never lose your key, bank card, or other device again, but would also mean making a hole in your skin every time you get a new credit card or job (in principle you could have remotely-programmable devices, but there are security implications with that, and people are still carrying around lots of credit cards and ID cards; programs like Apple Wallet can reduce the need for separate devices, but don't hold your breath.)

Bigger electronic devices such as pacemakers are already implanted in the human body for medical purposes. There is the possibility of using microchips similarly, to dispense drugs at regular intervals or perform other medical functions.[6]

Large-scale human chipping programs have occasionally been proposed, though generally met with widespread hostility. In 2010, Iowa Republican political candidate Pat Bertroche suggested chipping undocumented immigrants.[7] Concerns about the practice have led US states including Indiana to ban microchipping workers.[8]

However, in 2017 a Wisconsin company offered to implant microchips in employees to enable them to access security equipment including vending machines.[9] What happens if you're fired is unclear. (Hopefully they can revoke your credentials without cutting your arm off, but you'd still be left with a chip under your skin.)


Some of the risks of implants are well-known: an erosion of security and privacy, as people are unable to leave their IDs at home; they can always be identified by police and authorities, but possibly by other people with a suitable reader. There are also issues about privacy in the workplace, with employers gaining ever more intrusive access to employees.[10] It's not clear it's much more dangerous than carrying a mobile phone everywhere (with lots more sensors and computing capability), though it is less voluntary.[11]

There have also been concerns about medical effects from corrosion of implants or even implants moving in the body; they also pose a risk during MRIs and other procedures.[12] And there is the problem that if a device malfunctions (or is deliberately compromised) it can be hard to remove or disable. In 2010 researcher Mark Gasson managed to infect an RFID chip with malware, suggesting that a microchip implant could be hacked and pose a danger to other systems — requiring cutting someone open to remove it.[11]

State control[edit]

COVID-19 vaccine[edit]

See the main article on this topic: COVID-19 vaccine

Various vaccine denialists and other COVID skeptics have claimed that the COVID vaccine contains a microchip which someone (often Bill Gates) will use to track everybody and impose tyranny.[13] These have been linked with the Number of the Beast, a biblical prophecy about people being marked with a Satanic number that is claimed to predict tracking technologies.[14] As yet, no microchips have been found.

There have been a variety of fake videos and other misleading documents used to justify such theories. A doctored video claimed to show Jay Walker of syringe maker Apiject talking about microchips in injections — the video was misleadingly edited, and he was actually talking about labelling syringes with RFID chips to track the syringe packaging (to identify counterfeit drugs and track expiry dates), not to inject RFID devices into vaccine recipients.[13]

There has been a proposal from a Swedish company for COVID vaccination status to be stored in an implant under the skin.[15] This doesn't seem to have been implemented anywhere, because it doesn't offer a lot that can't be done with biometrics such as photographic ID cards, but it's possible to confuse with plans for microchips in vaccine.

There are practical details of vaccine procedures that make it very implausible for tracking devices to be hidden in vaccines and injected when vaccinations are given. If you did want to administer tracking devices, you would want to ensure each tracker was linked with an individual person. Yet vaccines in the US are often given from a multi-dose vial, so that even if it's full of little microchips, nobody would know which was injected into a particular person; and if you draw a little of the contents of the vial there is no guarantee of getting any microchip in the syringe. Added to this, centers may or may not record which vial is used for whom.[1]

Vaccines are injected into muscle, rather than implanted just under the skin. If you want to be able to read a device, particularly one with a battery that lasts more than a day, you want it to be under a thin layer of skin or fat, not embedded in muscle which is a comparatively poor conductor of radio waves.[1]

Conspiracy theories linked the vaccine with new 5G mobile phone technology, but implanting a 5G chip is even more implausible than a little passive chip. Vaccines are normally given with a needle that's about 0.5 mm across (about 25 gauge), while the smallest complete 5G device is about 20 mm across (ignoring batteries).[1]


A lot of millenarian Christians are looking for signs of the imminent apocalypse as described in the Book of Revelation. One supposed sign of the imminent apocalypse is the appearance of the Number of the Beast, a mark which Satan will place on his followers, on their right hand or forehead, as part of the general Satanic takeover of the world in the End Times.[16] The right hand is close to the arm where many microchips are implanted, and some chips have even been implanted in a hand (although usually the left, at least in right-handed people).[17] In the prophecy, the mark or number will be required for buying or selling, which leads to it being associated with various technologies for commerce (Revelation 13:17); implants to replace credit cards appear to match this prophecy, but it seems less relevant for other microchip implants used for state surveillance. Nonetheless, some but not all apocalyptic Christians associate this mark of Satan with microchip implants.[16]

On the other hand, there are many other candidates for this mark, which Christians are eagerly debating.[18] Some eschatologists point out that we cannot possibly encounter the Number of the Beast yet because it follows the Rapture in the prophecy of Revelations.[19] Duh!


See the main article on this topic: Extraterrestrial

The alien implant is a staple of alien conspiracy theories, with alien abductions supposedly often leading to chipping. Roger Leir was one of the main proponents; he claimed to have removed implants from at least 17 patients.[20] Leir claimed that isotopic analysis showed the implants he removed were extraterrestrial, but this was not verified at other laboratories; this was documented by filmmaker Jeremy Corbell who claimed to be impressed by Leir but was unable to have samples retested.[21]

Alien implants have featured in film and television, including a low-budget 2017 horror movie Alien Implant.[22] Implants featured in the mythology of TV series The X-Files, with main character Dana Scully getting one; the implants were possibly manufactured by a Japanese electronics company, but who knows?[23]


See the main article on this topic: Transhumanism

Microchip implants tie into one of the main desires of transhumanism, which is very interested in augmenting natural human capabilities using technology. Kevin Warwick, who implanted a chip under his skin to open doors and operate other detectors, declared he was a "cyborg" and worked on brain implants (neural implants) that allow humans to interact more directly with technology. Warwick has become an important figure to many transhumanists and "bodyhackers" (people who seek to add computer technology to the human body).[24]

However, transhumanism has become one of many bogeymen for the alt-right and other extremist conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones, who believes it will lead to the phasing out of the human race and our replacement by robots.[25] Other conspiracy theorists such as Jennifer Bilek have been promoting a theory involving body implants among many other elements in which

a cabal of "transhumanist billionaires" — wealthy individuals supposedly devoted to helping humanity transcend its status as an organic species, like hedge fund tycoon George Soros, philanthropists Warren and Peter Buffett and wealthy trans women Martine Rothblatt and Jennifer Pritzker (yes, this paragraph gets crazier as you go) — has infiltrated the gay community and taken over the "medical industrial complex," creating a predatory gender industry that convinces cis people they need to transition, with the ultimate goal of normalizing "body dissociation" and extreme body modifications, putting Google chips in our heads and (I swear to God) enslaving the human race by merging man with machine.[26]

If you've already drunk the Kool-Aid and bought into this kind of theory, you're going to get upset by the idea of microchips in human bodies, even if most people can tell that it is obvious nonsense.

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Putting Microchips in Vaccines Is a Terrible Idea, When You Think About It, James Heathers, The Atlantic, June 2021
  2. Apple Announces AirTag Tracking Devices Starting At $29 Each, Mac Rumors, April 20, 2021
  3. Microchipping Your Dog, VCA Animal Hospitals
  4. Professor has world's first silicon chip implant, The Independent, August 26, 1998
  5. See the Wikipedia article on Microchip implant (human).
  6. Microchips in Medicine: Current and Future Applications, Biomed Res Int. 2016; 2016: 1743472. Published online 2016 Jun 7. doi: 10.1155/2016/1743472
  7. 'Why Can't I Micro-Chip an Illegal?', The Atlantic, April 2010
  8. Another State Bans Employers Microchipping Workers, April 27, 2021
  9. Wisconsin company offers to implant tiny microchips in its employees, NBC News, July 25, 2017
  10. Microchip Implants Raise Privacy Concern, The Oklahoman, July 21, 2007
  11. 11.0 11.1 The surprising truths and myths about microchip implants, Richard Gray, BBC, 2 August 2017
  12. Technology Under Your Skin: 3 Challenges of Microchip Implants, Open Mind BBVA, 5 April 2021
  13. 13.0 13.1 Fact check: RFID microchips will not be injected with the COVID-19 vaccine, altered video features Bill and Melinda Gates and Jack Ma, Reuters, Dec 4, 2020
  14. False claim: A microchip implant will come with coronavirus vaccines, Reuters, May 15, 2020
  15. Fact Check: quantum dot dye technology does not feature microchips, Reuters, Jan 6, 2022
  16. 16.0 16.1 Microchip Implant Controversy: a Mark of the Beast or the Coming "Singularity"?, CBS News, Nov 9, 2010
  17. The microchip implants that let you pay with your hand, BBC News, April 11, 2022
  18. Is the 'Mark of the Beast' an Implanted Microchip (Revelation 13:16-18)?, Church of the Great God, accessed Jun 16, 20222
  19. Will the mark of the beast be…?, Verse By Verse Ministry, 16 December 2020
  20. Alien Nanotechnology, Julia Strand, Ohio State University, March 8, 2018
  21. Is There Finally Proof of Alien Implants in Human Bodies?, Diana Brown, How Stuff Works
  22. Alien Implant, IMDb
  23. Implant, X-Files Fandom Wiki
  24. When man meets metal: rise of the transhumans, Tim Adams, The Guardian, 29 Oct 2017
  25. Transhumanism Has a Conspiracy Theory Problem, Vice, 2 October 2014
  26. How the far-right is turning feminists into fascists, Jude Ellison S. Doyle, Xtra Magazine, April 1, 2022