The cyborgs are here! Just kidding. Or am I? A company in Sweden has been implanting microchips into it’s employees to help from a security perspective. Not necessarily to track their employees, but rather, to allow employees to access their facilities and systems in an easier way. I have so many questions about this, but lets start with this one – why? The theory is that this would replace the good old fashioned key less entry systems. Rather than using a “key fob”, you simply swipe your hand or finger in front of the reader, and bam – you’re in. But is this really the best way to achieve this goal?
Let’s start off with the elephant in the room. Sure, this might be disguised as a way to provide access to a facility, but what else are these microchips actually doing? Can your employer track you when you are off site? Not that I’ve ever done this, but let’s say you want to play hooky – can your employer tell that you’re actually at home? Or that you’ve gone to the doctor’s? There are so many privacy concerns with this! How is this even acceptable or considered ok? Further to that point, why are people voluntarily signing up to receive a microchip? In an age where we are constantly hearing about data breaches, why does this seem like a good idea?
Now, I’m not saying that I think people are going to steal your hand in order to be able to access your company. But, my policy brain tells me that there are so many gaps with this. Presumably, these chips aren’t limiting us to just be able to access a building and essentially go around security. My guess is that they can be used for other things. Like Apple pay, but inside your body. If we continue along those lines, then yes it is likely more secure than having this type of information stored on your phone. But that doesn’t make it ok. Just because it’s more secure based on the fact that I can lose my phone and not my hand, doesn’t make it ok. Or even “good” for that matter.
Now let’s talk about the health implications of this. Have enough studies been done to show the potential health issues related to this? Is a microchip safe from a long term perspective? “They” say that it’s relatively painful, but I don’t think that should even be a concern. Will my hand reject a foreign object inside my body? Doctor’s are always saying that if you have a cut, you want to keep it clean and prevent anything from getting inside of it. As that can cause an infection. Would a microchip inside your body not potentially have a similar affect?
I know that many people microchip their dog in order to find them if they run away. But I don’t think that’s the same thing here. One, it’s your pet, so you have some responsibility to keep track of it. Two, its your pet. (I will likely get some angry responses to this, but I stand by my statement) The argument could be made that it might also harm your pet from a health perspective. I suspect there are more studies and details around those long term affects than on humans, but can we draw a straight line from pets to humans in this case?
Lawmakers in Nevada want to put forward legislation that would ban all use of implanted microchips. There is one compelling argument to be made, which I am on the fence about. On one hand, I think privacy and security are huge when it comes to third party access… but in the case of Alzheimer’s patients – should we make an exception? Like I said, I’m on the fence about this one because I think it could be helpful if someone goes missing. They often don’t know enough about their home or situation to be able to give the information to ensure their safety. But on the other hand, is it overstepping?
I’m sure there are some parents out there who would like to microchip their child. So they can keep track of them, all in the name of keeping them safe and secure. Which I can agree with, even if I’m not a parent. But again, what is the end goal here? Kids can turn tracking software off on their phones. Leaving parents in the dark about where they are. So that’s not necessarily fool proof. I would make the argument that this potentially could be detrimental to your child’s health and if I was a parent, I would think twice about it. That being said, I might consider it if I had a parent with Alzheimer’s.
Maybe that makes me a hypocrite. Or maybe it makes me a concerned daughter who can’t be around an aging parent 24/7. But who still wants to ensure that their parent is safe and being taken care of. If I go back to the original point of this article, I think that using these microchips in an employment case is a slippery slope. Employers already have so much control around certain aspects of your life, why give them more? If you think social media can get you into trouble, think about what this could do. All shadiness aside. I think that there is more that can be done with these microchips that you might not even know about. Sure, maybe your employer can’t fire you because of your actions, but perhaps more guidelines are put in place to keep you in line.
I am certainly not an expert on security, but I have worked in a HR department for many years. I know the kinds of things that employees try to pull. I know the kinds of things that the employers try to pull. I’m not taking either side as I think these things won’t happen if you’re doing your job. But it is a cautionary tale nonetheless.