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Chipping: The Pros and Cons

Stan Ward

Stan Ward

September 14, 2017

I was unnerved recently when I read an article about company employees lining up to get microchips implanted in the back of their hands. My first thought was that this was a terrible place to work. I would never put something so invasive and intrusive into my body. Nor would I surrender my privacy for corporate convenience. Would you?

In this instance, the company actually claimed it was doing this to make life easier for its employees. At the workplace, they would no longer have to use cash or cards to pay for snacks, enter a password on their computer, or use a key or card to unlock doors. Oh sure, I sneered – like they didn’t have some nefarious motive for the chipping. However, after reading an article about a man who voluntarily wants to get ‘chipped,’ I admit it may be time to rethink my position.

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Everywhere I look and everything I do seems to subject me to some loss of privacy. My phone collects huge amounts of data on me. Google knows everything I do online and Facebook knows everyone I know. Amazon knows everything I buy online, as do Visa and Mastercard. Radio-frequency ID (RFID) chips are also in things like E-ZPass, I-Pass and SunPass, which let us go through toll-booths – so those systems also know where I go. RFID chips also in passports and some ID tags.

Let’s face it: getting chipped isn’t going to change much in terms of personal privacy. Therefore, why not just surrender to it and reap the benefits of this technological breakthrough?

Reasons Not to Get Chipped

Well, let’s look first at the more obvious objections. For starters, the thought of one my boss being able to track my whereabouts 24/7 makes me squeamish – not that I’m a deviant or have anything to hide or be ashamed of! Still, privacy is privacy.

Perhaps the foremost objection is that any technology is only as good as the people controlling it. We have to trust that it won’t compromise us by having it used against us somewhere down the line. Once the information is ‘out there,’ it’s out there for good – or evil. In short, we don’t know if our data will be abused by private or public sector actors. For one, it might mean goodbye to the notion of a secret ballot come election day.

Not only that, but if some entity is aware of your political persuasion, can you imagine the avalanche of information you’ll be bombarded with? Multiply that for purchasing preferences and entertainment possibilities and you get the picture. And there’s more…

We live in a society where an increasingly unaccountable corporate-government elite gets away with pretty much whatever it can. Good intentions are swamped by self-serving assessments of the “benefits” of innovative ways to erode our liberty. Even without technology interfering, people around the US on college campuses are deciding who can speak and who can’t, based solely on their interpretation. Similarly, historical monuments are being torn down and defaced by a tiny minority of people who “know” what’s right and just.

Do I want to let my entire life be put on a chip and trusted to a company or individual with their own agenda?

The Case for Chipping

Maybe the author of the article can dismiss these concerns or pretend they’re obviated by the advantages of being chipped. He argues that we already give up our freedoms by not reading merchants’ or internet companies’ terms of agreement and just clicking “accept” willy-nilly.

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He posits that, once chipped, we’ll be warier and actually be better consumers – that by making the chip more personal, we’ll be more aware of our data. We’ll pay more attention to how much of it we share. He thinks we’ll be on guard because we’re aware of being active generators of data, and that we’ll insist on real restrictions on data collection and use.

I don’t know if I buy that. I know me and I know human nature. It sounds like wishful thinking or whistling past the graveyard. However, I am now a little less reticent about the prospect of getting chipped. Still, I think I’ll stay on the side-lines for a while and see how it plays out. What will you do?

Opinion’s are the writer’s own. 

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