As recently reported by the Associated French Press, a growing number of people in Sweden are opting to surgically insert microchips into their bodies to act as a “digital keychain.” This chip inserted into the hand allows them to sign into their gyms, unlock car doors, and even make credit card payments. As the technology progresses, the implanted chip will add even more functionality and expedience—but at what cost? While the possibilities can be exciting and create new conveniences, consumers must be aware that new technologies carry unforeseen and potentially Orwellian risks, including:

Privacy Breaches. When you insert a chip under your skin, you are potentially allowing third parties to know all data that it could possibly transmit without your knowledge, from places you go, personal preferences, and even key medical data and bank account information. NFC chips give corporations a great deal of knowledge about you—they could track your every move—including how long you sleep each night and how many times you use the bathroom. Currently, chipping programs are already offered through big companies, a practice that may quickly be normalized. Opting out of this data collection is far more difficult when you already have a chip implanted in your body. Once chipped, there’s no way to go off the grid, even for a small amount of time.

The public needs to exercise caution when using new, untested technologies. Security cannot be taken for granted as systems are not yet fully developed to protect consumers from all potential risks, including privacy breaches.

Data Concerns. No internet-connected data, no matter how secure it may seem, is safe. Even NFC chips can be hacked using a specialized reader and some coding skills. Smartphones have tried tackling security problem by combining NFC technology with biometric readings, like your fingerprint, but implanted microchips don’t have security measures, making your personal information more vulnerable to external hacking. This could include your financial and health data.

Technological developments that interact with the human body and/or mind are moving faster than our systems to protect the public. The IEEE for example, has just announced a new credentialing process on NPR aimed at creating the proper layers of protection to assure the public is not harmed by new technologies that carry many new unforeseen risks and potential data breaches of your most confidential personal information.

  • Dr. Moira Schieke

    Dr. Moira Schieke is Founder and CEO of Cubismi. Dr. Schieke is a cancer imaging clinical and research Radiologist based in Madison, WI. She is adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

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