Like something straight out of a dystopian nightmare, companies are getting ready to RFID microchip their employees. “a number of UK legal and financial firms” are discussing RFID microchips with manufacturers to implant within employees.
While it may be for security reasons, the decision to chip other human beings is nothing short of horrific. This isn’t small or medium-sized companies seeking out chips, either. “One prospective client, which cannot be named, is a major financial services firm with “hundreds of thousands of employees,” reads the post.
The Good and the Bad
Hackers also have no problem breaking into RFID chips and cloning them. In fact, it’s shockingly easy for a proper hacker to pose as you and decypt secure locations. Despite this, some chip companies claim increased security as a selling point. Though, in a positive light, chips can speed up employees lives by accessing devices or paying for services in a streamlined way.
The founder of Biohax chip implants and a part of this piece, Jowan Österlund, claims:
“These companies have sensitive documents they are dealing with. [The chips] would allow them to set restrictions for whoever … In a company with 200,000 employees, you can offer this as an opt-in. If you have a 15 percent uptake that is still a huge number of people that won’t require a physical ID pass.”
However, this isn’t the first time companies have chipped their employees. Three Square Market from Wisconsin, United States had chipped 80 of its workers last year. As small as a piece of grass, these devices go into employees hands to increase efficiency during everyday tasks.
An Evolving Technology
That said, the very first tracking chips came around back in 2006. Back then, a surveillance firm in Cincinnati demanded that all employees have RFID chips inserted into their triceps. Shortly afterward, the state of California blocked all companies from forcing chips to their employees while also banning the act of chipping students.
Interestingly, as reported by MIT Technology review, workers at Three Square Market actually didn’t mind the chipping. They preferred the convenience despite the potential privacy and security flaws. Executives and security managers could look into this information whenever they’d please which is quite scary. In fact, Patrick McMullan, President of Three Square Market, revealed to MIT that only part of the chipped data will see encryption. In defense, McMullan claims that “similar personal information could be stolen from his wallet, too.”
To be fair, you can’t lose an implanted RFID chip. That’s a valid concern for companies looking to increase efficiency. However, an Engadget article brings up the potential risks for female employees. Those that suffer from workplace harassment would be much more vulnerable thanks to these chips.
Defending The Future
Appa,rently Sweden is much more accepting of chip-implants than we in the U.S. or U.K. are. There, one company based in Stockholm implanted 150 of their 2,000 workers since January of 2015, according to the LA Times. The company, Epicenter, has a chief experience officer Fredric Kaijser who defended the choice:
“People ask me, ‘Are you chipped?’ and I say, ‘Yes, why not?’ And they all get excited about privacy issues and what that means and so forth. For me it’s just a matter of I like to try new things and just see it as more of an enabler and what that would bring into the future.”
While it’s probably a future we can’t avoid, it’s interesting to observe those excited about chip implants. These workers don’t seem to care about privacy issues and are entirely happy giving up that security to increase their daily conveniences. That said, it’s essential that we have early testers of this technology to work out the kinks.