For at least the past 15 years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been actively trying to develop new ways to decrease fraud in the federal food stamp program, which currently covers nearly 50 million Americans and adds more than 10,000 new enrollees to its ranks every single day, according to reports. But one disconcerting method the agency appears to be considering involves the potential use of radio frequency identification (RFID) chips to track and identify food stamp recipients at the national level.
Two separate reports quietly issued by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service program back in 1999 reveal that the agency’s ultimate goal is to develop new tracking protocols that will supposedly improve the integrity of the food stamp program, also known as the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP). In both of these reports, the USDA explains how novel biometric identification technologies can help better verify the identities of food stamp recipients, and thus decrease fraud and “double-dipping.”
“Biometric identification technology provides automated methods to identify a person based on physical characteristics — such as fingerprints, hand shape, and characteristics of the eyes and face — as well as behavioral characteristics — including signatures and voice patterns,” reads the executive summary of one of the reports, entitled Introduction to Biometric Identification Technology: Capabilities and Applications to the Food Stamp Program.
Select states including California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New Jersey already employ biometric technologies like fingerprint identification, facial recognition, and even retina scans on the local and regional level, apart from a federal government mandate. But as pointed out by Brandon Turbeville over at Activist Post, this emerging roll-out of new biometric ID programs across the nation has been intentionally gradual so as not to raise too much negative attention about this encroaching violation of individual liberty and personal privacy.
Government pushing RFID as solution to fraud, waste
How does this all tie in with potential RFID chips? Part of this biometric paradigm that the USDA has embraced includes the use of RFID chips, which are already being embedded into credit cards and various other payment devices. Such technology is claimed to help reduce credit card fraud, which means it may be the logical next step for EBT, WIC, and other social welfare problems that are said to be heavily abused by criminals. This type of system is already in place throughout India, after all, where biometric ID cards were recently issued to all of the country’s 1.2 billion residents — and America appears to be next.
“Like the Indian UID program, the roll-out of the American system will require fingerprinting of individuals receiving food stamps under the guise of reducing fraud,” writes Turbeville. “[L]ike the early status of the Japanese version of the UID, the Juki-Net, the emerging American system is currently being implemented on a state-wide or local basis (county or city), with no administration by the [federal government].”