According to an Associated Press report from early April, technology company Biohax Sweden has injected itself into the data security and privacy debate. The company makes a microchip that uses what is called Near Field Communication. The chip collects data and can serve functions such as opening doors, starting printers, or serving as a mobile payment device, much like a smart phone. The microchip can also track worker movements and time spent in various places. Perhaps because the chips are new and not yet used in ways that workers consider intrusive, workers with the chips report being happy to try something that is about “the future.” More than 150 workers at a Swedish startup workspace called Epicenter have agreed to have the chips implanted, apparently in their hands.
This appears to be the first widespread microchip use for humans. Despite the convenience of not needing to carry keys, passcodes, or wallets, a microbiologist at the Karolinski Institute in Stockholm warns that hackers could gain large amounts of information from the chips. He says, “Conceptually you could get data about your health, you could get data about your whereabouts, how often you are working, how long you are working, if you’re taking toilet breaks and things like that.” And he indicates that chips will present some ethical dilemmas as they become more sophisticated. Sounds like a good issue for employers to watch and think through.