In the modern world where everyone is dependent on gadgets and different sorts of trackers, it is hardly surprising to hear about employee tracking through microchips. The world has ‘progressed’ so much that the small rice-grain-sized lump on the hand is hardly noticeable to the naked eye as the microchip. Microchip, an electronic circuit with may be tracking features, is placed inside a pill-shaped glass capsule before implanting it on a person. The use of microchips has been narrated in many action and thriller movies and television series. However, in reality, many people cannot phenomenalise the use of microchips in an employer-employee relationship. The year 2017 turned this myth (employer-employee relationship) into reality when a U.S. tech company based in Wisconsin had announced its intention of implanting microchips on their employees.
The Microchip Implantation Announcement
In mid-2017, Three Square Market, a company that designs software for break rooms, had announced that it would offer the option of wearing microchips to its employees. The company left it up to the employees, saying that it expected over 50 staff to implant the microchips. The microchips would be inserted underneath the skin, in between the thumb and forefinger of the employee. The technology used is NFC or near-field communications, which is a part of contactless credit cards and mobile payments.
The Welcoming Gesture
The microchips implanted by Three Square Market act as a wallet that allow employees to pay for food and drink in the company break room. The employee can also log in to their system, open doors and even use the copy machine. According to the chief executive of the tech company, the employees can use the microchip to unlock phones, share their business cards, and keep records of medical and health information. Todd Westby envisions, this technology in the future will store identity cards and passport, can be used as a means of payment in public transit and other purchasing opportunities. It will basically be used as credit/debit cards or mobile wallets that we are familiar with now. With this goal in mind and a broadminded international market arena, Patrick McMullan, the chief operating officer hopes that Three Square Market will take on the leading role. In this context, it is to be noted that a Swedish rail company had started offering the passengers a chip implanted into their hand as an alternative to the traditional train ticket.
To many it may seem that why anyone would implant microchips into their hand when there are so many negative sides to it. It is akin to a conspiracy. However, the employees of Three Square Market were seeing this as an opportunity. To them the process of making payments in the cafeteria or swiping into the office building would become easier and they would be relieved of the time consumed in giving attendance through the biometric system or making payments through the traditional system. It is said that even though the implantation of microchips was not made mandatory, more than 50 out of 80 employees in the company’s headquarters had opted for it just after the announcement. On the other hand, many were a little unenthusiastic about implanting something into their body. Some would welcome it if it came attached with a ring.
Three Square Market had collaborated with Biohax International; a Swedish company to of Epicenter, another Swedish company had used the same procedure prior to the U.S. tech company. The concept and practice of implanting a microchip into the hand of an employee raises many questions today. Firstly, is it safe to implant such a device in the body? Secondly, is it ethical?
When it comes to the health issues, it is a little difficult to determine. Microchips or implantable radio-frequency transponder systems were actually given a green signal in 2004 by Food and Drug Administration. The F.D.A. also says that there are chances when the area of the implantation may become infected. There is also the possibility that the chip migrates to some other part of the body. However, the general manager at Three Square Market had emphasised that the microchips offered by the company are F.D.A. approved.
Even if the companies approving the use of microchips on employees say that they are encrypted and secure, the doubt still remains. There is always the possibility that the microchips are hacked. For the moment it may seem that the microchips are making it easier to access office buildings or make payments but, they can be used in more invasive ways. For instance, how much time an employee is spending in the cafeteria or whether they are working properly when doing on-site work? The frightening thing is that the companies can take this information even without the knowledge of its employees.
On one side there are companies like Three Square Market and Epicenter that endorses microchips as an upgraded means of payment and data storage while the fear of being shackled in chains continues. But microchip in the employer-employee relationship has stopped becoming a myth and is a fact today.
Would you let your boss microchip you? (https://www.marketplace.org/2017/07/26/tech/sitting-down-three-square-market-microchips-its-employees)
Please do not let your employer microchip you (https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/08/07/microchips-bad-idea-please-do-not-let-your-employer-implant-one-you-christian-schneider-column/540610001/)
Microchip Implants for Employees? One Company Says Yes (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/technology/microchips-wisconsin-company-employees.html)
US tech company becomes first to microchip employees (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/us-tech-company-microchip-employees-first-three-square-market-wisconsin-a7856971.html)
The Surprising Truths And Myths About Microchip Implants (http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20170731-the-surprising-truths-and-myths-about-microchip-implants)