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‘Distinctly Uncomfortable:’ U.K. Companies’ Plans to Microchip Employees Face Fierce Pushback

November 12, 2018, 11:41 AM UTC

British companies are thinking about fitting their employees with microchips—and the country’s biggest employer organisation and main trade union body aren’t happy about it.

UK microchip firm BioTeq claims to have already fitted 150 people in the UK with implants. Meanwhile, Swedish microchip company Biohax told the Sunday Telegraph it was in conversation with several companies in the U.K., including one with hundreds of thousands of employees.

The microchips, usually about the size of a grain of rice, are implanted between the thumb and the forefinger. They can be used to unlock doors, start cars, and store medical data. They also have the potential to improve security in the workplace by granting or limiting access to certain materials based on microchip scanning.

The ethical dimension of using the chips—which are similar to those used on pets—is of great concern to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) which represents 190,000 UK businesses.

“While technology is changing the way we work, this makes for distinctly uncomfortable reading,” a CBI spokesperson told The Guardian.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) added: “We know workers are already concerned that some employers are using tech to control and micromanage, whittling away their staff’s right to privacy.

“Microchipping would give bosses even more power and control over their workers. There are obvious risks involved, and employers must not brush them aside, or pressure staff into being chipped.”

The British firms currently considering microchips are not the first to experiment with the technology. In July 2017 a vending machine company in Wisconsin implanted some employees with microchips to allow them to make cash-less, card-less, phone-less purchases from the company’s kiosks—and even held a party to implant the 41 workers who volunteered for the program.