Conspiracy Theory: How 16 Digits Linked Australian Medicare to Chip Implants

Last Updated Apr 26, 2010 4:22 PM EDT

A completely false claim that Australia's healthcare reform package will eventually require every Aussie to have a health-records microchip implanted under their skin is making the rounds of conspiracy-theory Web sites. The claim is based on an innocent coincidence: Both prime minister Kevin Rudd's "e-Health" initiative and PositiveID (PSID)'s VeriChip implantable device are based on an identity number with 16 digits.

The coincidence, and the rumors it has bred, demonstrate for managers that even the most mundane of details can take on an unintentionally dark meaning on the Web. Product managers who need customers to use an ID number might want to avoid creating systems with 16 digits, as the "16-digit" concept plays a key part in conspiracy theories about microchip implants, America's forthcoming slide into tyranny, and the coming of the Beast as foretold in the Book of Revelation.

You can read some of the fearmongering about the imminent chipping of every Bruce and Sheila here. It says:

From July 1st every single Australian will be branded with a unique, 16 digit identification number courtesy of Medicare Australia in accordance with Kevin Rudd's new e-health revolution.

... There is indeed a surreptitious plan to set up the ground work for this system to progress seamlessly to implantable RFID microchips. All that would be required is a simple distribution of the PositiveID microchip and the necessary RFID scanners into the medical infrastructure the software side would already be functioning at full steam.

Rudd's reform package will promote electronic health records through the use of a 16-digit number that will identify each patient. The system will eventually do away with the need for doctors to ship paper files around the country whenever a new patient walks in the door, potentially saving millions in costs. The reform itself is actually quite boring and commonsensical, from a records management point of view. (If you read Australia's media -- here and here and here -- you'll see that Rudd's secret plan to microchip everyone on his continent has somehow not generated any headlines, largely because it doesn't exist.)

Unfortunately, PositiveID's critics are better at getting their message out than the company itself, and there are already dozens of chat forums and bulletin boards out there filled with messages from people who believe that the good people of Australia are being used as CEO Scott Silverman's guinea pigs for the World Government takeover.

Related: