Are microchips for workers really 'nothing to be scared of'?
Published Monday, November 12, 2018 3:02PM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 12, 2018 3:38PM EST
As anyone who has ever been issued a badge or pass card for their job knows, it isn’t a perfect system.
The card might be forgotten at home. Or it might go missing. Even if it doesn’t, remembering to carry it around can be a hassle.
One Swedish company has come up with a novel way around this problem. It might sound like something of a dystopian sci-fi novel, but it’s becoming increasingly popular with some employers.
Their solution? Microchips.
After being implanted with the chips, workers are able to open doors, sign into their computers and even use vending machines by swiping their hands.
The chips are similar to the ones used to track pets, with added capabilities related to transmitting data. Other devices are able to read the information on the chips via near-field communication, the same method used in “tap” credit and debit card transactions.
“There’s really nothing to be scared of,” Biohax International founder Jowan Osterlund told CTV News Channel on Monday.
Microchip implants are more common in Sweden, where more than 3,000 people have received them since 2015. Some people say they have begun to think of the chips as replacements for their wallets, acting as technological gym cards, train tickets and more.
While some people might be squeamish about the thought of employers being able to track their employees via embedded microchips, Osterlund says the technology is no different than what already exists in the badges and other cards being used around the world.
“Just because the token of identity changes shape … doesn’t mean people are going to track you,” he said.
Despite Osterlund’s assurances that the microchips have been designed to protect the privacy of the people they are implanted in, British labour leaders say they see no reason why U.K. employers should place the chips in their workers.
The Trades Union Congress, a federation of unions representing more than five million workers in the United Kingdom, published a blog post Monday describing microchipping employees as “a sinister step too far” on the part of employers.
“Trawling social media and tracking toilet breaks is bad enough, but the news on microchipping shows just how far some bosses are willing to go to control their workers,” the post reads.
The group also questioned whether there was any way for the implants to be justified financially, pegging the cost of each microchip at between C$120 and C$270.