Com­pany im­plant­ing mi­crochips in its work­ers

Many em­ploy­ees re­cep­tive to to­tally vol­un­tary mi­crochip­ping

The Hamilton Spectator - - CAREERS - ALEXA D’AN­GELO

You’ll never for­get your work badge if it’s im­planted in your flesh.

That’s the think­ing at Three Square Mar­ket, a Wis­con­sin vend­ing ma­chine soft­ware firm of­fer­ing to in­ject mi­crochips into em­ploy­ees so they can open of­fice doors, log in to com­put­ers, share busi­ness cards and even buy snacks with just of a wave of the hand.

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Todd Westby spoke with the Los An­ge­les Times about his em­brace of Ra­dio Fre­quency ID chips and his com­pany’s en­tirely vol­un­tary Aug. 1 im­plant­ing “chip­ping” event. This in­ter­view has been edited for clar­ity and con­ti­nu­ity. Ques­tion: How does one get ‘chipped’? An­swer: It’s like an ear pierc­ing. The pro­ce­dure isn’t sur­gi­cal; the chip is in­jected. A li­censed pro­fes­sional puts it in the skin be­tween the poin­ter fin­ger and thumb. If you don’t want it any­more, you can re­move it like a sliver.

Q: Tweak­ing the hu­man body seems like a big de­par­ture from vend­ing ma­chines. Why is your com­pany ex­per­i­ment­ing with bio­hack­ing?

A: It wasn’t some­thing we went look­ing for. We were work­ing over in Europe and one of our op­er­a­tors had the chip tech­nol­ogy. ... And then the idea of bring­ing that tech­nol­ogy to our com­pany grew from there. We are a tech com­pany so I don’t think any­one was sur­prised by it — es­pe­cially be­cause it can be used with our tech­nol­ogy.

Chip­ping is like self-driv­ing cars, who’d have thought 15 years ago those would be around? Q: Do em­ploy­ees have to get chipped? A: It’s to­tally vol­un­tary, the only in­cen­tive is we are pick­ing up all the costs as­so­ci­ated. There are around 55 peo­ple want­ing to get chipped next week, but I think with all the buzz around it, it will grow to 100.

Q: Will you be able to track em­ploy­ees’ where­abouts? Are there con­cerns about pri­vacy?

A: No, ab­so­lutely not. It’s a pas­sive chip, it isn’t like a chip in your dog. There is no GPS track­ing. We can’t track when you go to the re­stroom, we can’t track when and where you are com­ing and go­ing — it’s purely for con­ve­nience. Q: Is hack­ing a risk? A: It’s re­ally nonex­is­tent. It’s 100 per cent en­crypted so it’s more se­cure than other things con­nected to RFID read­ers, like phones or credit cards. There is 256-bit en­cryp­tion and the only way you could get close to hack­ing would to be within six inches of the chip — but even then the data would be scram­bled.

Q: What does your com­pany’s health in­surer think of this?

A: The in­sur­ance com­pany doesn’t know be­cause it’s like get­ting a pierc­ing. The chip is FDA-ap­proved and so there isn’t re­ally a need to in­volve them.

Q: What hap­pens if an em­ployee gets fired or quits the com­pany?

A: We would in­ac­ti­vate the per­son’s ac­count. It’s no dif­fer­ent than a credit card. We won’t re­quire peo­ple take out the chip be­cause it can be used with dif­fer­ent things but it won’t grant them ac­cess to our build­ing or com­put­ers. Q: Do you plan on get­ting chipped? A: Yes, I do. Ac­tu­ally, my whole f am­ily does. My wife, my son who is a ju­nior in col­lege and my daugh­ter who is in high school are all go­ing to get them. I’m go­ing to use it to turn the lights on in my house — our whole house is au­to­mated. So when I scan my hand at the front door it’ll turn on the lights.

JEFF BAENEN, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Tony Danna, vice-pres­i­dent of in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment at Three Square Mar­ket, in a com­pany break room at its head­quar­ters. The com­pany is of­fer­ing to mi­crochip em­ploy­ees, en­abling them to open doors, log onto their com­put­ers and pur­chase snacks with a wave of their hand.

32M, TNS

The chip im­plant to be used by Three Square Mar­ket.

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