The Swedish company Epicenter, home to more than 100 companies and about 2000 workers, has started embedding chips into their employees in January 2015. Currently, about 150 workers have chips. One company from Belgium also offers such chips to its employees, and there are also cases of enthusiasts around the world, who have been exploring them in the past years. What could be called the distopic vision of the workplace slowly becomes a routine. Chips are rice-sized, injected under the skin (like a vaccine) and have card function, which means that employees can open the doors, access to printers, or even buy food. How is it possible?
Implants use near field communication technology (NFC), which is the same to the one on contactless cards and newer smart devices. When approaching the reader, a small amount of data is exchanged between two devices using electromagnetic waves. The microchips themselves are passive, meaning they contain information for other devices, but they cannot read information from other devices. This is why the question of security and privacy is raised. The data they contain can show how often and when employees come to work, what they buy, and the like, and unlike cards or smart devices, the chip is not so easy to lost.
Experts say hackers could get huge amounts of data from embedded microchips. Not as much now, as they could in the future when microchips become much more sophisticated. If such data is collected, it is a big question what is going on with those data and who uses it and for which purposes? In the Epicenter, microchips are now used to enter some secured areas, "secure print" protocol, and contactless payments. Of course, it would be possible to control the workers' access and deployment, and their location inside the company headquarters, which would control their productivity, but also jeopardize privacy.
The microchips themselves do not cause any health issues, but the issues of their use could be far-reaching. So, in the future, they could replace our personal documents, medical records, passwords, note someone's movements, etc. It sounds like the scenario in Orwell's 1984. But no matter the technology is thirty years late for Orwell's prophecy, it will soon become widely available not only for large companies, but also for state institutions, secret services and the "dark side" of computer programmers (hackers).
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