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Workplace Ecosystem

This chip gets under your skin

A US company has implanted an RFID chip in some of its employees - to facilitate identification. Lawyer Klaus-Dieter Franzen explains whether this would also be possible in Germany.

12 Feb. 2018 David Schahinian
Source: CNCB/USA Today
Source: CNCB/USA Today

It gives the concept of employee loyalty a whole new meaning: 50 of the 80 Three Square Market employees, a supplier of high-tech beverage and snack machines, volunteered to have a small chip implanted between their thumb and forefinger. Among other things, the chips allow them to open doors by waving their hand and to pay in the cafeteria. Anyone who fears negative effects on their health or rejects implantation for other reasons can also wear the chip as a bracelet.

Klaus-Dieter Franzen, a Bremen-based labor law specialist, is critical of this development. The chip carriers could be fully monitored - the creation of profiles would be feasible in theory. More data could also be stored on the chip, and there is even a risk of criminals accessing the data.

The use of implants in working life faces formidable obstacles in Germany. For example, the EU General Data Protection Regulation and the new Federal Data Protection Act will come into force in May 2018. They set high barriers to the processing of personal data. Franzen also doubts that a German labor court would consider an employee’s voluntary consent as valid.

This of course does not stop anyone from volunteering to have an RFID chip implanted. According to estimates by the Cologne newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger , about 4000 people apparently have already done so.