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Government Surveillance, Privacy & Data

Microchip implants chart new territory, but some experts say they are an ethical nightmare

ABC News:

A vending machine software firm recently implanted about four dozen of its employees with Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) microchips that it says will allow the employees to navigate the office more conveniently. But the move has raised concerns about potential ethical and security issues.

Three Square Market, based in Riverdale, Wisconsin, said it surgically implanted the chips in about 50 volunteers on Tuesday, giving the workers the ability to make purchases, unlock doors, log into computers and perform other office functions with just the wave of a hand.

Michelle De Mooy, a privacy and data expert at the Center for Democracy & Technology, believes the company will gain an “intrinsic understanding of where you were and when” because RFID tags are trackers by design.

De Mooy said many companies have explored external employee tracking and sensor technology in recent years, but she said the implantation aspect is fairly new.

“When you have RFID chips implanted into the body, it really crosses the traditional boundaries of personal space,” De Mooy told ABC News. “It also raises the really profound ethical questions about what an employee should or should not be able to introduce in such a skewed power environment.”

Right now, the chips are mostly being explored for convenience or health benefits, but De Mooy said people should ask companies what they do with the data that’s collected.

Full story here.