Microchipping Employees: The Next Big Trend?

Natasia Langfelder |

 

A tech company is implanting employees with microchips. Is this the wave of the future or a giant misstep?

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Three Square Market, a technology company in Wisconsin hit the news cycle hard with its plan to embed microchips in its employees' fingers. Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) microchipping isn't a new technology, but it is relatively new to humans. Scientists use chips to tag animals in the wild and pet owners frequently use them to make it easier to find a lost pet.

The chip is the size of a grain of rice and would be embedded in the employee's hand, between their thumb and index finger. Three Square Market envisions their employees easily and securely swiping into the office building, paying for food in the cafeteria and unlocking their computers with a mere wave of the hand.

Despite the concept of companies microchipping employees being a dystopian trope, over 50 of Three Square Market's 80 employees have opted into the microchip program. Dewey Wahlin, general manager of Three Square Market, expressed his surprise to The New York Times that he got so little pushback from employees. Wahlin is so certain of the safety of the RFID chips that he is having his entire family chipped as well. [Source]

However, Allesandro Acquisti, a professor of information technology and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College, voiced dissenting opinion to The New York Times. In his opinion, there were several drawbacks to the devices:

  • While companies can claim the microchips are secure, they might still be hackable
  • Employers could use the devices to measure the length of employee's bathroom or lunch breaks without their knowledge
  • An unpredicatble future: once they are implanted, employers could widen the scope of the chip without employee knowledge

In addition, there are health concerns when it comes to the chips. They are FDA approved, but may become infected at the implantation site or migrate to different areas of the body. Despite these concerns, the employees at Three Square Market see the chips as the "future."

Folks on LinkedIn weighed in with their thoughts:

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Would you want to microchip your employees? Would you consent to being microchipped? Weigh in below or tweet us @Connex.