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4th August 2017 Innovation

Convenience over privacy: are microchips really worth it?

At first, it sounds like something out of a horror film – a company implanting microchips under employees’ skin. But for a certain Swedish startup (though it’s not the first), it’s become a terrifying reality.

Employees at Epicenter have voluntarily agreed to have microchips the size of a grain of rice injected between the thumb and forefinger, and all – it seems – for the sake of convenience. It speeds up tasks workers already manage quite efficiently: be it swiping into an office building or paying for lunch. But is it really worth the pain?

As demonstrated (though let’s admit quite poorly) in the recent film ‘The Circle’ where employees at a fictional tech company were chipped, controlled and monitored 24/7, it raises big questions around privacy and security. Using radio frequency technology, the same tech behind contactless payment cards, implants will make it easy for hackers to prise away important financial and personal data. But it’s much more than that, they could also get hold of information about your daily personal routine: how long you work for, what time you clocked in that day, your exact location at any given time.

Is this a case of technology going too far? Perhaps. Yes, in time it may collect data about your health and potentially save lives, but as the chips enter the mainstream, hackers will become equally predatory. But unlike your credit card, this is a non-stop connection to your body. And it’s very hard to switch it off.

Tom Mackintosh
@tommackintosh

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