How close are we to employers monitoring employees through biochip hand implants?

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and all that goes with it, draws ever closer, frequent reference is made to RFID Chips. What are they?

Radio-Frequency Identification (“RFID”) uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags attached to objects. The tags contain electronically stored information. Passive tags collect energy from a nearby RFID reader’s interrogating radio waves.

In her excellent article, US attorney Linn F. Freedman, in writing about employers monitoring employees through biochip hand implants, writes that on August 1, 2017, 32M, located in Wisconsin, is offering its employees the ability to have RFID chips implanted into their hands to make purchases at the company break rooms, open doors, use the copy machine and log on to their company computer. On top of that, the employer issued chip can store medical and health information. Participation is voluntary.

According to the company, “Eventually, this technology will become standardised allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, and all purchasing opportunities.”

Questions employees may wish to ask include:

- What information is the employer collecting and storing?
- What is the company doing with the information collected by the chip?
- What is the rate of infection for the implant?
- Are there any long-term health effects of an implantable chip?
- What happens to the chip when I leave the company?
- What happens to the data collected by the chip when I leave the company?
- Can I have access to the data collected by the company?
- Is the chip connected to the Internet and therefore, potentially hackable?

Collecting identifiable data through an implantable chip is no different than surfing a company website or downloading an app. In all of these instances, your data is being gathered, accessed, used and potentially disclosed. Consider these questions (and others) so you understand what is being done with your data in exchange for the convenience of not having to punch a code into the copy machine to make a copy. Whatever you decide, understanding what is being collected and used is important information to consider before you make the decision to participate or not.

Biochip hand implants are not entering the magical world of Harry Potter but will soon be on the agenda of HR Departments in South Africa.

Prepared by Lizl Combrinck, Litigation, Labour and Matrimonial Attorney at Judin Combrinck Inc.

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