In this issue of the President's Letter, Jeff explores:
Will this be the Wave of the Future or is it Big Brother
all over again?
President, JB Homer Associates
Radio frequency identification (RFID) microchips are already incorporated into the production and supply chain for consumer products to allow for a greater degree of efficiency and accuracy in the manufacturing, distribution and inventory tracking process. RFID microchips are also contained in passports, credit cards, E-ZPass tags, and access cards.
An entirely new use for this microchip, manufactured by Swedish company BioHax International at a cost of $300 each, is to have companies implant them in their employees' hands. As an example, employees at Three Square Market, a Wisconsin company specializing in self checkout technology, were recently given the option of doing so in order to allow them to unlock doors around the office, log in to computers and copy machines, and make in-house purchases.
There is a potential benefit in using the microchips in this manner in the workplace. Similar to the consumer supply chains, efficiency would be increased and a significant amount of time would be saved. There would be no need to have multiple passwords or passcodes for different access points or online systems, instead, merely a quick scan would be sufficient for entry.
Utilizing this microchip could prove to be very helpful and completely harmless, however, personal health and privacy concerns may need to be addressed as a result. One way to mitigate these concerns would be to give the employee the option to wear a removable device, such as a ring or bracelet, which would still promote convenience and efficiency, but also allow individuals to maintain a sense of personal control.
Despite the benefits, there are also possible downsides. From an ethical and privacy standpoint, employers could potentially use the data generated from these microchips to track movements and habitual behavior over time to establish their employees' patterns and routines. Security concerns could be raised as well, as it's possible to hack the information that is contained within the microchips.
Ultimately, the future potential of employee microchipping in the workplace raises a variety of questions:
What long-term effects do these microchips have on physical human health?
Is there a negative, psychological effect from constant monitoring?
Would you work for a company that requires their employees to be microchipped?