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Experts Slam Employee Microchip Plans

Security experts and trade unions have expressed doubts and concerns over some firms’ reported plans to microchip their employees.

Swedish firm Biohax is said to be in talks with several legal and financial firms in the UK to fit the rice grain-sized chips, which are implanted into the flesh between the thumb and forefinger.

They could then be used as an authentication device to enable or restrict access to certain parts of a building or facility.

“These companies have sensitive documents they are dealing with,” Biohax founder, Jowan Österlund is reported as saying. “[The chips] would allow them to set restrictions for whoever.”

The firm has already partnered with US firm Three Square Market in a voluntary scheme to chip its employees.

Another firm, UK-based BioTeq, has already chipped 150 users, although most are individuals, according to the Guardian.

However, both the CBI and TUC reportedly expressed concerns over the practice: the former arguing that “firms should be concentrating on rather more immediate priorities,” while the latter claimed it could be abused by employers to give them “even more power and control over their workers.”

In a longer article, the TUC went further, arguing: “we’d like to hear what security concerns could possibly justify the use of such technology on staff.”

It added that with costs per chip potentially reaching £260, the economic case for microchipping employees is also pretty flimsy.

“Intrusive surveillance undermines trust in the workplace by making people feel they’re always being watched,” it concluded.

“So instead of microchipping their workforce, bosses need to start engaging with staff and unions to make new technology work for everyone.”

Security experts were also unconvinced.

Outpost24 CSO, Martin Jartelius, argued that the chips could drive a dangerous false sense of security.

“While there is no doubt that this may ease the problem of employee two-factor tokens, as the chip is implanted under their skin and cannot be easily stolen, the assumption that something is less likely to be hacked because it’s under your skin is flawed and dangerous,” he added.

“It’s reasonable to assume that when something is implanted into a person it is less likely to be forgotten and to be stolen, but it doesn’t mean ‘because the microchip is in my thumb it’s less likely to get hacked.’ The very location of a microchip in your hand may actually lead to increased exposure, as the hands form the basis of our physical interaction with our surroundings.”

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