Thursday, 3 August 2017


The article “Do I let my boss microchip me” (Dompost 2 August), told the story of Melissa Timmins an employee of a firm in the States where the employer offered staff the the option of  having microchips inserted in their hands, rather than having to carry around swipe cards. Some 50 of the 85 staff were expected to take up the offer. The chips will be inserted at a "chip party" where staff will celebrate with corn chips and salsa.

The story raised some interesting issues about people being implanted with microchips. Certainly, it may seem convenient to carry all you need in a microchip implanted in the tip of your finger, rather than a wallet stuffed with credit and loyalty cards, but there are huge risks with microchipping people. Yes, it will mean no more getting away with riding the train or bus for free, or driving faster than permitted, making up an excuse for why we got to work late as machines monitors where we are and when we arrive.

Rather than payWave all you need do is flip your finger as you pass by a sensor, and payments will be automatically deducted from your account. However, with this, service providers will have more access to more information, which will also severely limit our freedoms. For instance, will we still be able to choose to pay with cash or our credit card or will we be forced to pay with chip?  The information on our chips could be corrupted, wiped or copied. Criminals could use your data, copy it onto another chip or replace it with their own data, altering your digital identity. It would make it very easy for Big Brother to continuously track where we are, what we do, how we do it and whom we’re doing it with. Further, what if a scammer takes your finger, and goes on a spending spree, you will be stumped?

Then there are potential health concerns. One review of academic literature found an increased risk of cancer in eight of eleven studies following the microchipping of animals; "In almost all cases, the malignant tumors, typically sarcomas, arose at the site of the implants and grew to surround and fully encase the devices. In several cases the tumors also metastasized or spread to other parts of the animals. The tumors generally occurred in the second year of the studies, during middle age or older for the animals.” (Synopsis of “Microchip Induced Tumors in Laboratory Rodents and Dogs: A Review of the Literature 
1990–2006” Katherine Albrecht, Ed.D.)

Microchipping the population raises more problems than it solves, both in terms of health but also in terms of the erosion of privacy while providing valuable information to corporations and governments. It seems that as we advance in terms of technology we simultaneously surrender hard fought for rights and freedoms. As Joni Mitchell sang, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got, till it’s gone”. I hope it is not too late. 

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