RFID Chip Inside the Body: Reflecting the Current State of Usage, Triggers, and Ethical Issues presented at DeepSecVienna 2018

by Ulrike Hugl,

Summary : Chipping humans can be seen as one of the most invasive biometric identification technologies. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) as the key technology in the field of the Internet of Things produces many applications.For example, human implants are used by scientists in the fields of cyborgism, robotics, biomedical engineering and artificial intelligence, by hobbyists for identification reasons to start their computers, cars, for smart home applications or to pay by credit card, by hospitals for the control of human biological functions of patients, but also by companies to tag their employees for security reasons and workplace surveillance.All in all, worldwide human implants are mainly used for security, healthcare, and private (individual) reasons. Beside some positive individual or organizational outcomes, implants may compromise privacy and raise manifold ethical questions.For example, research in the field of information security has shown that RFID implants can be hacked to gain sensitive data stored on such chips. From an ethical point of view, other questions refer to its influence on a person’s identity and body, as well as to how individuals are probably able to resist such a surveillance technology against the background of felt pressure in an organizational or societal environment.This talk focuses on the current state of the discussion and the applications of human implants, used for various reasons. It discusses triggers mainly from an individual and organizational point of view, and analyzes some already existing and upcoming ethical-, legal- and privacy-related aspects in the field. We will present results from a qualitative study with managers in Austria and close the talk with some theses for future research, applications and related individual and societal outcomes.