The primary use of these microchip implants is for the identification of domestic companion animals. If an animal is found and cannot be identified by visual means, a veterinarian or animal shelter can scan the chip with a reader device and immediately identify the animal via the pre-encoded data contained on the chip. It has become common practice for veterinarians to implant the microchips, usually under the skin at the back of the animal's neck, at a reasonable cost to the owner. Breeders routinely have chips implanted in the animals they sell, as do shelters when animals are adopted. Microchip implants have significantly improved the control of domestic animals.
This type of technology is also used to identify livestock. The National Livestock Identification Scheme (Australia) includes microchip implants as part of its standard.
Of course the technology is not limited to tracking and identifying animals. Microchips are used in and on products for asset tracking, inventory control and to deter theft. Moreover, the shoelaces of marathon runners have been microchipped for timing purposes.
This type of device has been used to identify refugees, such as the 34 000 Haitian refugees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 1994. The refugees were given wristbands containing a microchip which were fastened to their wrists with a rivet gun. The refugees left Cuba en mass when President Fidel Castro announced that he would no longer prevent Cubans from leaving their homeland. The amount of fatalities at sea due to Cubans launching unseaworthy vessels in hurricane swept waters prompted US President Clinton to use the US's Guantanamo Bay facility as an immigration processing centre. The wristbands proved to be a highly effective means of identifying refugees on such a large scale.
This technology represents the ability to effectively identify and control domestic animals and products in a timely and highly accurate manner. It is also being used to track and control people. This too is an effective method of data control and communication; provided the technology does not impinge on one's right to privacy.