Swedes trade swipe cards for microchip implants

A small Swedish tech company is microchipping its employees for security access, in a move that has garnered international attention.

The Stockholm firm Epicenter – a startup hub that is home to over 300 small companies – is offering to implant employees with RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips that are roughly the size of a grain of rice and provide recipients with access to doors and photocopiers.

The chip is implanted using a syringe into the fleshy part of the recipient’s hand, in a relatively short and painless process.

About 75 of the 2,000 people who work for the organizations housed at Epicenter have already elected to have the chip implanted, in addition to another 75 people who have no direct affiliation with the hub, but have attended open events there.

Ethicists have raised concerns about the potential for privacy violations as a result of hacking.

Ben Libberton, a microbiologist at Stockholm's Karolinska Institute, says hackers could conceivably gain huge swathes of information from the microchips, and such information may be particularly sensitive once employers start storing more data on the devices.  

“The data that you could possibly get from a chip that is embedded in your body is a lot different from the data that you can get from a smartphone...Conceptually you could get data about your health, you could get data about your whereabouts, how often you're working, how long you're working, if you're taking toilet breaks and things like that.”

MORE ON THESE TOPICS | ethics of technology, privacy, security

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