In a move that looks like something straight from Black Mirror, British companies are looking to microchip some of their employees for security purposes.
Nope, this isn’t something that’s been masterminded by Charlie Brooker – although I’d let you off for thinking it was. It’s very real and apparently a work in progress.
The idea is major UK firms will use the microchips to run their business more efficiently, as it will boost security and set restrictions for certain ‘sensitive areas’.
The microchips have been in use since 2015 in Sweden, with Swedish company Biohax providing them to certain businesses to replace ID cards.
And now the founder of Biohax, Jowan Österlund, has told the Daily Telegraph the company is in talks with a number of UK legal and financial firms to implant the chip into their employees.
These companies have sensitive documents they are dealing with. [The chips] would allow them to set restrictions for whoever.
One potential client in talks with the company apparently has ‘hundreds of thousands of employees’ and is a major financial services firm. They cannot be named for legal reasons.
The microchips are only small – about the size of a grain of rice – and are implanted in the skin between the thumb and forefinger. They allow employees to access their office, as well as storing medical data which can be accessed in case of an accident.
Now, it sounds impressive but all I can think about is the Black Mirror episode where the mum inserts a chip into her daughter to monitor everything she’s doing and feeling. It was creepy AF, and didn’t end well.
I don’t know about you but I think I’d much rather go to the bother of having a security pass to swipe myself into work than having something implanted into my hand.
The announcement has naturally caused concern from many. A spokesperson for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which represents 190,000 UK businesses, spoke to The Guardian and made their views clear.
While technology is changing the way we work, this makes for distinctly uncomfortable reading. Firms should be concentrating on rather more immediate priorities and focusing on engaging their employees.
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— Biohax International (@biohaxint) March 6, 2018
Biohax, though, say the chip is not a tracking device:
[The microchip] is a passive near field communications device inserted by certified biohackers. It does not contain a battery, tracking systems or any GPS enablements.
The Biohax install enables the carrier to increase their security in the digital world, provide 100% identification clearance, and unlimited seamless experiences with their connected surroundings.
So maybe it hasn’t quite reached the levels of Black Mirror just yet.
According to Metro, Österlund said that larger companies with more than 200,000 employees would not need to make the chips compulsory. Instead, they could give their workers the option to have the chip in order to make their lives easier and save the company money.
If you have a 15% uptake that is still a huge number of people that won’t require a physical ID pass.
It’s not known when, or even if, these chips will be rolled out into UK workplaces but at this point I’m just glad I don’t work for a legal or financial firm!
Journalism does have its benefits sometimes…
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).