Should I let my em­ployer mi­crochip me?

Melissa Tim­mins has a week to de­cide: Does she keep her hand to her­self, or does she let her em­ployer mi­crochip it?

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Weekend - BY DANIELLE PAQUETTE

THE im­plant is the size of a grain of rice. It would slip un­der the skin be­tween her fore­fin­ger and thumb. It would st­ing for only a sec­ond. Then she could un­lock doors or log onto her com­puter with a wave. Her flesh could hold her credit card, her med­i­cal records, her pass­port . . .

“At first, I thought it was a joke,” she said.

Tim­mins, 46-year-old, works in sales at Three Square Mar­ket, a Wis­con­sin com­pany that makes vend­ing-ma­chine soft­ware. The of­fer came af­ter her boss re­turned from a busi­ness trip in Stock­holm, where he en­coun­tered Bio­hax Swe­den, a startup that aims to en­dow body parts with tech­no­log­i­cal power.

On August 1, Three Square Mar­ket will throw a “chip party,” where em­ploy­ees can insert the $300 mi­crochips, pro­vided free from man­age­ment. About 50 of 85 em­ploy­ees are ex­pected to ac­cept the com­pany’s present. (Chips and salsa will be served.)

The Ra­dio Fre­quency ID chips, as they’re called, could also func­tion be­yond the of­fice. If Tim­mins got the im­plant, she could use it to buy snacks at shops or vend­ing ma­chines that sup­port the tech­nol­ogy.

Peo­ple have long tagged pets. And busi­nesses reg­u­larly use chips to track ship­ments. Im­plant­ing em­ploy­ees, how­ever, still sounds like an idea out of science fic­tion.

Elec­tronic-pri­vacy ad­vo­cates ar­gue that track­able data is hack­able data, and that some­one, some­where, could find a way to in­vade your pri­vacy. Hand im­plants could also be minia­ture logs of com­ings and go­ings, or tiny pur­chase his­to­ries.

Tony Danna, Three Square Mar­ket’s vice pres­i­dent of in­ter­na­tional devel­op­ment, has no pri­vacy con­cerns. He asked: Weren’t peo­ple wor­ried about cell­phones?

Last month, Danna, 28-year-old, vis­ited Epi­cen­ter, the start-up hub home to Bio­hax Swe­den, and met the brains be­hind the chips. A worker there was first chipped two years ago, and now about 150 em­ploy­ees have the im­plants.

“How do I get one of these chips in my hand right now?” Danna re­calls won­der­ing.

For him, the ap­peal is con­ve­nience.

“I don’t want to have to carry my wal­let or pass­port or car keys,” he said.

Even­tu­ally, he added, the tech­nol­ogy will be ev­ery­where, and Three Square Mar­ket wants to be at the fore­front. He said his com­pany’s chip pro­gram will be the first in the United States.

Tim­mins, the sales as­so­ciate, likes the idea of be­ing first. Of beat­ing the guys in Sil­i­con Valley and New York City from River Falls, Wis­con­sin pop­u­la­tion 15,000.

But she’s still on the fence, and not be­cause she thinks her boss or some hacker could se­cretly track her. Phones these days, she said, al­ready make that easy.

“I’m just con­cerned about im­plant­ing some­thing into my body,” she said. “I’m think­ing about in­fec­tions. Then there’s the other side of me that thinks: This is ex­cit­ing. Cut­ting-edge.”

Work­place dilem­mas used to be less . . . cor­po­real. Do we join the union? Log hours from home? En­roll in that sav­ings plan?

Tim­mins said she’ll sleep on her chip de­ci­sion for a night or seven. Then she’ll go to the party, size up the sy­ringes and make the call.

– The Wash­ing­ton Post

Owan Oster­lund (R) of the com­pany Bio­hax, im­plant a chip in Gothen­burg, Swe­den, 02 De­cem­ber 2015.

Pho­tos: EPA

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