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U.S. company will implant microchips in employees

Jul 24, 20174 mins

A Wisconsin company wants to implant RFID microchips in employee 'volunteers,' saying the microchipping of humans is 'inevitable'

No, just no. You can say something is inevitable until you are blue in the face, but that doesn’t make it true. It does, however, get you some free PR. That’s what is happening after a Wisconsin company claimed it will be the first U.S. company to offer microchip implants to its employees.

“It’s the next thing that’s inevitably going to happen, and we want to be a part of it,” Three Square Market (32M) CEO Todd Westby told KSTP.

Inevitable? Not everyone even microchips their pets, even though RFID chips for animals have been around since the 1980s.

In 1998, University of Reading Professor Kevin Warwick reportedly became the first person to be microchipped. He used the implant at the Cybernetics department to open “smart” doors, turn on lights, be tracked through the building, and for his PC to recognize and talk to him.

Since then, several bio-hackers have had RFID microchip implants, but it certainly is not mainstream.

To claim RFID microchipping of humans is inevitable is a pretty gigantic leap. You see, 32M, based in River Falls, Wisconsin, is in the break room market. It sells self-checkout kiosks. Westby suggested to KSTP that people can use the implanted microchip in their hands to pay at break room market kiosks. “I’ll hold my hand up, just like my cell phone, and it’ll pay for my product,” he said.

Although that may be true, people have been able to use NFC tech in their phones to pay for years, but it’s not like everyone does it.

Nevertheless, Westby said, “We foresee the use of RFID technology to drive everything from making purchases in our office micromarkets, opening doors, use of copy machines, logging into our office computers, unlocking phones, sharing business cards, storing medical/health information, and used as payment at other RFID terminals. Eventually, this technology will become standardized, allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit farecard, all purchasing opportunities, etc.”

A microchip implant party

On August 1, 32M is hosting a “chip party.” The company “is expecting over 50 staff members to be voluntarily chipped.” The microchip will be implanted under the skin with a syringe between the thumb and forefinger; the process is said to take mere seconds. The company is providing the $300 microchip for free to its “volunteers.” Westby said the data on the microchip is encrypted and secure and that “there’s no GPS tracking at all.”

The RFID chips, which are about the size of a grain of rice, were developed by Sweden’s BioHax International. The Vending Times reported BioHax chief executive Jowan Osterland will perform the injections. “His company sees the concept as part of an evolution toward what he calls the ‘Internet of Us’.”

Oh, good, just what we need—because the Internet of Things has proven to be so secure.

32M decided to go for it with the microchips after working with partners in Europe and coming across a company of chipped BioHax employees, then “the concept of using RFID with micro markets quickly grew.”

Some European companies already microchip employees

Europe, which is reportedly “far more advanced in mobile and chip technology usage than the U.S.,” has had some companies microchipping their employees for years. Just this year, it was reported that the Swedish company Epicenter intended to “embed a chip into about 150 workers, so bosses can monitor toilet breaks and how long they work.” Those workers, who got the chip implanted for free, were also referred to as “volunteers.”

The day may be come when humans embrace being microchipped, using it to unlock tech devices, to carry around their medical records at all times and even to make payments, but there’s a long way to go to convince everyone—especially people who consider microchips to be something along the lines of the “mark of the beast.” Still, microchipping employees is one way to stir up free PR.

ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.