I am a microchip. MC000012020NZ. A tiny identifying integrated piece of circuitry embedded in the thumb of a human being. I have been in the thumb of my human host since 2020. Outwardly my host appears just like any other human being. Inwardly s/he is a data trove The year is 2025 and microchipping employees has become widespread in New Zealand.
The arrival of myself and my many data loggers has led to tens of thousands of New Zealanders having these little data banks implanted in their finger or thumb. Many have thought of the convenience of being able to skip queues, carry out mundane tasks quicker, give the boss the comfort of knowing where workers are and what they are doing. I have stored on me information about his/her daily activities at work, at home, the shopping mall – where I have been and what I was doing, what I have purchased, and services used. It might save you a few seconds paying for something you purchased, or placing an order for a taxi or using a service.
But did they think about what my makers might have intended for that data?
Dial the clock back to 2019. An article in Stuff talked about the benefits of being microchipped. I read the article out of curiosity to see why someone would contemplate getting a microchip inserted. And then I read the comments at the bottom – granted the number was not many, they were overwhelmingly negative.
And I am not surprised.
Big data is coming for you/me. Do you want to be a slave?
Another question that really bothers me will be the accountability of whoever manufactured the chip. Will it be a New Zealand company that is subject to New Zealand laws and can be made to answer to New Zealand Parliament, or will it be a company like Facebook or Google, or some unknown third party? Whatever the case, the idea of a company whose first task is to make a profit out of supplying MY data – possibly without me actually knowing WHAT data is being supplied – to whomever does not thrill me in the least.
In an age where privacy breaches are getting bigger and more frequent, why should we trust another means to cause yet more breaches? In an age where government officials seem unable to be held to account, where the average Jim and Jane is too busy trying to live to care about the lack of accountability how will we tackle the inevitable abuse?
Our employers know enough about our whereabouts as it is. They have no good reason to know where we are 24 hours a day. When I step through the foot gate at work in the morning, I am on site and have to be ready to do work related tasks. When I clock in, the boss knows that I have started my working day. But does that give my employer the right or need to insert a microchip into me on the pretense of needing to know what their employee is up to – or not up to? When I clock out, the boss knows I am finished and not intending to do any more work. They can see from the print out of the time on the machine when I started and finished.They have my number so they can ring me if there is a problem.
Whilst they certainly have rights and even a need to know ones whereabouts, ethical questions and – I suspect if this ever catches on – significant legal questions about its legality loom large. It is the start of a steep and dangerous slope into becoming a servant of big data. They equally have no good reason to know what we do 24 hours a day – knowing what their employees do or do not do 24/7 will not help them achieve their ends as employers any more than it helped them in a pre-microchip world.
Does the Government need to know so much about you that a microchip becomes necessary? I do not believe so as that takes on an Orwellian aspect of big government. Does that mean the data can be linked into the passport system so that some random act one committed in New Zealand might potentially come up on your file and cause an alarm to scream at a Customs Officer as you head away on holiday or other business overseas? Some might argue as opposed to using ankle bracelets, that microchipping is a useful way to monitor criminals, but just as with anybody else, certain ethical issues such as a right to privacy.
But will I ever submit to being microchipped?
You will have to put my cremated remains back together first… and if you can get a body out of that, the answer will still be no.