A Wisconsin-Based Company Is Implanting Chips in Its Employees' Hands

Wednesday, 26 July 2017 - 11:43AM
Technology
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Wednesday, 26 July 2017 - 11:43AM
A Wisconsin-Based Company Is Implanting Chips in Its Employees' Hands
Image credit: Three Square Market
How much do you trust your employers? Do you trust them enough to let them implant a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip into your hand? Employees at Three Square Market, a Wisconsin-based company that installs office vending machines do. The company will soon become the first in the U.S. to implant these chips into their employees in this manner, and 50 employees have already volunteered for it. Now, the chip doesn't turn you into a robot (though, perhaps it technically makes you a cyborg?), but it does allow chipped employees to open doors and pay for things with the wave of a hand. Functioning like Apple or Samsung Pay, your hand would become both an employee ID and a contactless credit card. According to a press release, "Employees will be implanted with a RFID chip allowing them to make purchases in their break room micro market, open doors, login to computers, use the copy machine, etc."


Image Credit: Three Square Market

Obviously, there are many concerns here. When Epicenter, a Swedish startup hub, did the same thing, CNBC criticized that "While biologically safe, the data generated by the chips can show how often an employee comes to work or what they buy. Unlike company swipe cards or smartphones, which can generate the same data, a person cannot easily separate themselves from the chip." This chip gives your employer (and, potentially, others) access to personal information that they never previously would have had been able to collect. Aside from the possibility that information about your activity and even your credit card information could be somehow stolen, your employer would be able to track you in new ways. Were you five minutes late 30 times this year? Did you get french fries at the office canteen every Wednesday?

With this development, we now have an additional worry: biohacking. While the company *swears* that they are not GPS-tracking their employees and that this is a secure chip only meant to make everyday processes a little more streamlined, we have a hard time believing that. Employees are not forced into being "chipped," but will those who are microchipped be rewarded, or treated differently? Will future workplaces have to deal with this additional dilemma? It's nice that Three Square Market is trying to make their employees lives more convenient, but it doesn't seem worth the risk at this point—it sets a precedent for future employers to pressure their workers into giving up their privacy, similar to the vision David Eggers laid out in The Circle (and its lackluster movie adaptation). When your bosses propose putting a chip in your hand, the next step may be Elon Musk's neural lace.
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