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article imageMany have concerns over firms implanting microchips in employees

By Ken Hanly     Nov 12, 2018 in Technology
UK's largest employer organization and largest trade union group have expressed alarm at the prospect of national companies implanting staff with microchips to improve security after a firm was revealed to have already chipped 150 Britons.
Biohacking is used for much more than just companies implanting chips as Wikipedia notes. There are a number of different activities covered by the term. The practice of implanting chips often between the thumb and forefinger is becoming common across Europe, especially in Sweden. Many who do this are called Grinders who alter the human body by among other things implanting cybernetic devices such as microchips. These digital implants can store data such as medical information, or contain data that allow the bearer to open electronic security doors or even start cars.
An article in the Independent notes: "Thousands of people in Sweden have inserted microchips, which can function as contactless credit cards, key cards and even rail cards, into their bodies. Once the chip is underneath your skin, there is no longer any need to worry about misplacing a card or carrying a heavy wallet. But for many people, the idea of carrying a microchip in their body feels more dystopian than practical." While many may find this dystopian and dangerous, many Swedes consider it a way to enhance what the human body can do, Many consider themselves transhumanists.
Wikipedia describes transhumanism briefly: "Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international philosophical movement that advocates for the transformation of the human condition by developing and making widely available sophisticated technologies to greatly enhance human intellect and physiology.[..Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations as well as the ethical[3] limitations of using such technologies.[4] The most common transhumanist thesis is that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into different beings with abilities so greatly expanded from the current condition as to merit the label of posthuman beings.[2]"
The Telegraph reported on November 11, that the Swedish firm Biohax was having discussions with several UK firms including a major firm with hundreds of thousands of employees. Biohax plans to open an office in London. It claims to have already microchipped 4,000 people mostly in Sweden. It is working with the state-owned rail company Statens Jarnvagar to implant its passengers with microchips that will be used instead of traditional tickets.
The firm encountered negative publicity when there were claims it forcibly implanted microchips in employees of the firm Epicenter, a corporate innovation lab, allegedly to find out how long they spent on lunch, and cigarette and bathroom breaks. However, this turned out not to be the purpose of the implants at all. Patrick Mesterton, CEO and co-founder of Epicenter said: "I was shocked at the massive exaggeration. The implants are so-called passive chips — they have no built-in power supply, so can't send signals on a subject's position or movements. They get their power from and can only send data to reading devices that must be applied directly to the chip. Your mobile phone or internet search history poses a bigger threat than the RFID chip we use ever would. We're certainly not tracking when users go for a cigarette and how long they take — we simply can't."
Jowan Osterlund, founder of Bihax, said that the microchips could help financial and legal companies improve security around sensitive document by setting restrictions on who can and cannot access sensitive documents.
The Epicenter program is actually voluntary, Employees are not forced to have the implants. As an earlier article in Digital Journal notes: "Epicenter's program also is voluntary. Epicenter is a digital hub in Stockholm housing more than 300 startups for larger companies. The RFID implants unlock doors, operate printers, open storage lockers and purchase items at the cafeteria just by the wave of a hand. The use of these chips has been ongoing for some time."
Concerns over misuse of the technology
The Confederation of British Industry representing 190,000 UK business has voiced concerns about Biohax. A spokesperson said to the Guardian: "Firms should be concentrating on rather more immediate priorities and focusing on engaging their employees."
The UK Trades Union Congress also worried about staff being coerced into getting implants. Frances O'Grady General Secretary said that workers were already concerned that some employers were using tech to control and micromanage their activities and were whittling away at employees right to privacy. O'Grady said: "Microchipping would give bosses even more power and control over their workers. There are obvious risks involved, and employers must not brush them aside, or pressure staff into being chipped."
In spite of concerns about the technology the use of microchips by employers on a voluntary basis has now spread to the US. It would seem the chips being used are not for tracking but the development of the technology needs to ensure that workers who have the implants have control over their use, otherwise employers will use the devices just to control employee behavior without concern for their rights.
The appended video shows an employee of Epicenter getting the implant. There are several You Tube videos claiming the chips are used to monitor breaks etc. even though this appears to be quite impossible given the nature of the chips,
More about biohacking, Microchip implants, Biohax
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