Boffins call for control of ‘human chipping’ IT

Professors Nada and Andrew Kakabadse
Professors Nada and Andrew Kakabadse

A trend-watching professor from Cranfield believes employees could soon be fitted with tracking chips.

The under-the-skin Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips are already offered by nightclubs in Rotterdam and Barcelona for customers to gain entry and to pay.

And the researchers say in 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration approved an RFID implant called VeriChip, about the size of a grain of rice, for medical purposes. Husband and wife professors Andrew and Nada Kakabadse have been researching the subject.

They say there is social unease over electronic tracking technology that monitors workers’ activity, like tracking technology linked to company vehicles and mobile communication devices, may evolve into implants placed directly under human skin.

Andrew is Cranfield University’s Professor of International Management Development while Nada is Professor in Management and Business Research at the University of Northampton.

Professor Nada said: “Our research and the views captured illustrate arguments focusing on human rights issues and privacy intrusion relating to IT applications.

“Some claim the ‘Obamacare Health Act’ makes under-the-skin RFID implants mandatory for all US citizens.”

Nada Kakabadse said: “There was a general unease about what they saw as the covert, subtly coercive manner in which implant technology was being introduced by governments and big business.”

The professors say the study suggests a number of specific questions need to be answered ahead of moves towards widespread ‘human chipping’, including who has access to the information transmitted?, is consent fully informed? and who guarantees the individual’s rights against violation?

Nada and Andrew Kakabadse say RFIDs will become a part of everyday working and domestic life in the near future.