Despite the massive issues and state of emergency in Michigan the state’s House of Representatives found the time to pass a bill that creates framework for microchipping humans. The bill is highly questionable as it naturally touches on many issues of civil liberties and privacy. The bill verbage blocks employers from requiring microchips, but also creates a legitimacy for employers considering using the technology in the first place. Defining limitations of it’s use grants open turf for employers to begin experimenting with microchipping.
The highly controversial bill is called the “Microchip Protection Act” and it’s sponsored by Representative Bronna Kahle. The Act is House Bill 5672 and now that it’s passed the State House it will move to the State Senate. If the Senate passes the bill, Governor Whitmer is expected to sign it into law.
“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,”
“Microchipping has been brought up in many conversations as companies across the country are exploring cost-effective ways to increase workplace efficiency. While these miniature devices are on the rise, so are the calls of workers to have their privacy protected.”
Representative Bronna Kahle.
Microchipping people has been around just long enough for it to start getting real. Most pets are microchipped when they’re adopted. A chip smaller than a grain of rice is injected with a needle and embedded into muscle. The chip is read wirelessly, right through the skin, with radio waves. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has been around for decades but miniaturization has made embedding tags into flesh a reality. An RFID chip can be a unique identifier, then referenced against a list that has the contact information for the pets owner. If for example, a stray pet is found, it’s tag can be quickly read so the they can be reunited with their owner.
RFID tags in humans could be used for all sort of things. It could store medical information, birthdate, or emergency contact info. There are many good things that could come from the technology. However, as is typical with new technology; there are very bad things too. Opponents of the technology repeat various security and privacy concerns.
If everyone is walking around with a unique identifier, privacy is out the window. It will be very difficult to prevent nefarious 3rd parties from reading the unique identifier on the tag. This means anyone could track you. Stores could track your entry and exit, showing you targeted ads. Thieves could be signaled when you leave your home. Your movements and contacts could be used against you in any number of ways, including identity theft. All of this can be done without access to the original database. The attacker can just use your ID as an identifier to build their own database of knowledge; when you shop, what you buy, how much you spend, who you came in with, etc.
House Bill 5672 framed as a mandated limitation on the use of microchips. Effectively it prohibits employers from requiring employees have microchips. An example used by congress is for building access, where employees could voluntarily use keys instead. In some circles this could be seen as a sane step forward by enabling people to choose whether or not they want a chip. However, employers could inconvenience non-compliant employees and cause entry and exit delays that might make it less profitable to work somewhere.
Critics note that this law also grants perfect legal framework for an employer to microchip their employees in the first place. With bill 5672 on record fans of the technology will have statutes to lean on when they impose their plans. By having rules of prohibition it’s inherent that without exceeding those limits, that the chipping is inherently allowed by law, so long as users can opt out.