A River Falls Wyoming company, Three Square Market (aka 32M), has gone one step further in this world that appears to be heading toward George Orwell’s anti-utopia. 32M will be the first company in the United States to offer RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) chips to its employees; while this isn’t particularly unique since chips using near-field communications (NFC) are already being used in contactless credit card payment systems, there is a difference in this offering. In this case, 32M is offering fifty of its employees the opportunity to get in on the ground level of implanted RFID chips as shown here:
Note that the chip will be implanted in the employees hand between the thumb and the forefinger. By holding their hand up to a device reader, the employee will be able to purchase items in 32M’s micro-market product line as shown here:
Basically, a micro-market is just a small, self-service vending machine-based business that can be located in a business setting, replacing traditional stand-alone vending machines and the ubiquitous room with a coffee maker sitting beside the kitchen sink with the “Please Clean Up After Yourself” sign. As it stands now, 32M offers several types of payment kiosk options for its customers including ones that accept traditional cash, credit and debit cards as well as biometric fingerprints for payment as shown here:
For those of us who are concerned about the privacy issues associated with this type of technology, 32M claims that the RFID chip will contain only the information that the employee chooses to associate with it and does not have GPS capabilities that would allow the company to track the geographic movements of its employees since the chip will only be scannable from a few inches away. As well, the implanted chip will be used to open company facility doors, login to computers and use the companies copy machines; fortunately, for those who lose interest in the project, the chip can easily be removed if the employee so desires.
Thanks to the Snowden revelations and WikiLeaks, we are finding out that all of this technology eventually becomes yet another tool that can be used by the surveillance state. As I’ve said before, the rather prophetic George Orwell was just three decades ahead of his time!
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