WASHINGTON -- "Tracking" in politics usually refers to poll numbers. But for prospective Wisconsin Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, it had another, more literal meaning when he sat on the board of a company that implants digital chips in people.
The company, VeriChip, makes something called radio frequency identification chips that are implanted in an arm, and can help doctors track a person's medical history, or can be used in high-tech security systems. They could also be used to track pets or people with advances in GPS technology.
Privacy advocates fear that the technology's potential for keeping tabs on workers, patients or even immigrants will be so enticing to businesses and governments that someday everyone could be forced to get "chipped."
Thompson, who joined the board of VeriChip in 2005 before it changed its name to PositiveID, made TV appearances for the company in which he expressed no reservations about the devices.
"You put it in your right arm and it is very small and it doesn't bother you at all, but it certainly is going to allow you to identify who you are, protect your child if you have a new child that's born in a nursery, you can protect that child from having somebody walk off with it," Thompson said in a CNBC interview.
He insisted he would have no qualms about getting one himself.
"I certainly would and I think it is a coming thing," Thompson.
Thompson, a four-time governor of Wisconsin and one-time secretary of Health and Human Services in the Bush Administration, quit the firm to run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. It's not clear that Thompson ever got the chip. Reports from his departure suggested he did not.
Thompson also flirted with running for Senate in 2010. He bowed out at a Tea Party rally, where it seems unlikely the limited-government advocates would have endorsed human chip implantation.
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