How far would you go for convenience? How about putting a RFID microchip implant in your hand?
Wisconsin-based Three Square Market announced this week that it wants to inject RFID microchip implants into half of its employees. The company says this is a voluntary procedure and would make workers jobs more convenient.
What are RFID microchip implants?
RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification.
The technology behind this is actually not new. We have been using these type of implants, the size of a grain of rice, in our pets and animals for identification since the late 1990’s. The technology itself actually can be traced back as far as 1948.
The implant is powered remotely by a device used to read the information from the chip and therefore requires no battery or internal power source.
What do RFID microchip implants do?
Outside of the use in animals for identification, RFID is used in many common technologies around us. The chips exist in credit cards, door lock cards like you would use at a hotel or office and passports. They allow a computer to read the information in close proximity to the RFID microchip but doesn’t require a physical connection. This is how you can swipe the hotel card in front of the lock without a need to physically insert it like the old magnetic strip cards.
Why would a company want to place RFID microchip implants in it’s workers?
According to Three Square Market this implant would create a “convenience” for it’s workers. They will be able to log in to their computers without the need for a password or purchase food from the vending machine by simply swiping their hand. They can also unlock doors or turn the alarm off without the need for codes or a card.
So what could possibly go wrong?
The biggest issue is that of privacy. Imagine you’re running late for work. You arrive, make your way to your desk, sit down and start. Normally there is a chance you might get caught and a lot of employers use time cards or computer login data to do this. These things are still in your control and you have the option of not using them.
With an implanted RFID microchip when you walk through the door the reader can detect your hand and log the time you physically came in. While this isn’t the same as GPS which can track you anywhere it still will log the basics with or without your permission.
Can the RFID microchip be hacked?
Of course – it’s a form of a computer.
In addition, there are security issues. Like a cell phone RFID chips can be cloned. Also, anyone with a reader that is compatible with the implanted chip can read the information. This has been an issue with credit cards and passports in which case a hacker can walk by and read the information contained within without your knowledge.
William (Bill) Sikkens has been a technology expert for KXL on the Morning Show with Steve and Rebecca since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.
Got a technology question or comment for Bill? Follow him on Twitter @sikkensw