WJRT reports that the Michigan House passed a bill last month making it illegal for employers to tag their workers with microchips to prevent companies from making productivity-tracking devices mandatory for each employee.
This decision happened because a growing number of companies have recently explored the idea of replacing time cards, IDs and security clearance devices with sub-dermal, rice-sized Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) microchips.
These chips will make getting into the office, logging into a computer or buying from the cafeteria more convenient for companies. They can also be used to assure employers that their workers are doing their job based on management’s desires of maximum efficiency.
Republican State Rep. Bronna Kahle sponsored the bill said that:
“With the way technology has increased over the years and as it continues to grow, it’s important Michigan job providers balance the interests of the company with their employees’ expectations of privacy. While these miniature devices are on the rise, so are the calls of workers to have their privacy protected.”
While at present, RFID is not being widely used, Kahle and the others have reason to believe that this could become the norm in Michigan and other states in the near future.
The Michigan bill shows concerns over private industries using high-tech methods, along with surveillance technology to completely dissolve employee privacy. RFID microchips are known to be used in libraries, schools, governments and private sectors in order to rack and locate items with embedded tags. While this method provides a cheap and convenient way to track inventory and safeguard products from being misplaced or stolen, they have started being used in tracking people and keeping tags on their activities in the workplace.
As states discuss in reopening and allowing companies to resume to regular functions in the “new normal” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, some corporations have promoted the use of RFID sensors as an affordable and efficient solution in order to keep with the social distancing standards.
The RFID technology has also been used in high-risk jobs like oil rigs, where they can determine which workers have been evacuated or how scenarios of evacuation can be formulated.
However, experts have warned that the information stored on these chips are also easily compromised, especially with data that concerns comings and goings of employees, interaction of those who are wearing the chip, and daily routines that occur outside the office.
Companies like Amazon have been under scrutiny because of its use of surveillance technology and devices that track production turning its workers into “human robots” who work hand-in-hand with actual robots. These concerns and increased criticism are about the dehumanising effects like labor-saving devices that can affect the employees.
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