There has been a lot of press in the past two days about an existing technology being used in a new way at an office complex in Sweden: RFID chips implanted in tenants’ hands. The occupants of this new complex are being given the opportunity to have a tiny RFID chip implanted in their hand that will give them access to doors and photocopiers, with the promise of future services tied to the chips. Not surprisingly, this new use of the technology has been met with mixed reactions among the tenants.
The initiative is being advanced by a Swedish biohacking group that wants to understand the technology before implanted RFID chips become as ubiquitous as wearable tech like Fitbits. But is RFID chipping on the horizon for employees? There have been reports of employers offering RFID chips instead of keys to employees in security-sensitive positions.
The key distinction in those scenarios is that employees who are “chipped” do so voluntarily. Depending upon the venue in which the chipping takes place, employers who require their employees to be chipped could face charges of assault or battery, or invasion of privacy claims, from their employees. Moreover, if employers were able to compile any data about their employees’ health or genetic makeup using the RFID chip, it would compound the privacy and other legal concerns.
Employers evaluating whether to offer (let alone require) their employees to have RFID implants for security or access purposes should tread lightly, and evaluate thoroughly whether the potential legal concerns that may arise outweigh the added security offered by this use of RFID technology.