The Microchipped Employee and the Question of Privacy

The Microchipped Employee and the Question of Privacy
The V1 Edition

The Internet of people is here. A technology company in Wisconsin has microchipped staff so that they can open doors, log in to computers and buy cafeteria food by scanning their hands.

The employees have had a grain of rice-sized chip inserted between their thumb and index finger, which uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) and near-field communications (NFC) to interact with connected objects.

The technology makes an employee’s hand operate just like a contactless credit card or mobile payments device. The company also wants to use the chips to store medical information and share business cards.

“Eventually, this technology will become standardized, allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit and all purchasing opportunities,” said Three Square Market CEO Todd Westby in an official press release.

Three Square Market is paying for the $300 chips which are produced by BioHax International in Sweden.

In an interview with KTSB, Westby insisted that the chips would not be GPS tracked and are encrypted. However, some privacy experts are skeptical about these claims. The technology could later be used for more invasive purposes, Carnegie Mellon University professor Alessandro Acquisti told the Telegraph, such as monitoring the lengths of employees’ lunch and toilet breaks.

Anxieties about biohacking have meant similar schemes in Europe have failed to take off. Microchipping initiatives in Sweden, the Czech Republic and Belgium saw just 10 percent of employees volunteer to use the technology.

However, 41 of Three Square Market’s 80 staff agreed to be microchipped at the “chip party” the company hosted at its headquarters this month. One employee even said she hoped to one day use it to open her car or do the shopping, reported the Telegraph, suggesting that Three Square Market can be more optimistic about its plans to use the technology.