Do employee microchips cross the line?
About half of the 85 employees at Three Square Market in River Falls, Wisc., were voluntarily microchipped during a "chip party" late last week, according to The Chicago Tribune.
A microchip implant in each employees' hand will enable them to make purchases in company breakrooms, unlock doors or share business cards. The company announced plans for the employee "chip party" last month.
The company picks up the cost of the $300 chip and the data stored on the chip is encrypted and secure, according to CEO Todd Westby. Three Square Market is partnering with BioHax International on the project.
While onlookers wait to see the results and collect feedback from Three Square Market, a more pressing use may emerge.
The chips could potentially provide a solution to the vulnerabilities surrounding traditional passwords. More than three billion user credentials and passwords were stolen in 2016, according to a report from Thycotic and Cybersecuirty Ventures. Chipping employees could put a dent in password theft and put entire tech teams at ease.
But with that comes a host of other issues, with privacy chief among them. Unlike tagging a pet, the early versions of the chips don't have GPS tracking. But privacy experts say potential ethical and security issues remain.
Let's think about this. What happens when an employee is terminated under pressure. Can companies force employees to sit and have the chip removed? Could chips with high level access be sold to the highest bidder?
Three Square Market maintains that mobile phones and apps are more capable of tracking employee movements than the microchips. But experts say the fact that the user has less control is the sticking point. While a phone can be turned off, the chip is always on.