BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING: Facebook creating tool that will allow it to put cameras, microphones in user homes

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — In a turn of events that mimics George Orwell’s ‘1984’, social media giant Facebook is developing a gadget that will allow it to place cameras and microphones in the homes of Facebook users.

According to a report published by Cheddar (https://cheddar.com/videos/exclusive-facebook-dives-into-home-device-market-with-video-chat-product-named-portal), the social media network is preparing to release the hardware, called Portal, which was developed by a Facebook department called Building 8. The same department, says the report, is also working on developing “mind-reading technology”.

“Rather than position the device as a smart assistant akin to Amazon’s Echo speakers, Facebook intends to pitch Portal as a way for families and friends to stay connected through video chatting and other social features,’ the report states. “Facebook plans a formal product introduction in early May at its annual developer conference and hopes to ship the device in the second half of 2018.”

Although Facebook has not officially commented on the forthcoming project, Andrew Bosworth, the company’s vice president of augmented and virtual reality, wrote on Twitter: ‘Can’t comment on speculation but can confirm it’s going to be an exciting year for AR/VR’.

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AND SO IT BEGINS: WISCONSIN COMPANY TO BEGIN MICROCHIPPING EMPLOYEES

RIVER FALLS, WI — A Wisconsin company announced this week that it will begin microchipping their employees, according to a report published by USA Today (https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/nation-now/2017/07/24/wisconsin-company-install-rice-sized-microchips-employees/503867001/).

The company behind the decision, Three Square Market, which is based out of River Falls, Wisconsin, says the time has come and that others need to step up and follow their technological example.

“It’s the next thing that’s inevitably going to happen, and we want to be a part of it,” the software development company’s Chief Executive Officer, Todd Westby, said of the move.

More than 50 of the company’s employees will begin having the devices implanted in their hands starting next week, says Westby. Each chip is about the size of a single grain of rice and can be used to purchase items in place of a traditional debit or credit card.

In addition to using the chips to store their financial information, Westby says they will also be able to use the chip to gain access to the company building and log onto their computers.

“We’ll come up, scan the item,” Westby explained, while showing how the process will work at an actual break room market kiosk. “We’ll hit pay with a credit card, and it’s asking to swipe my proximity payment now. I’ll hold my hand up, just like my cell phone, and it’ll pay for my product.”

Each chip costs around $300, the cost of which will be covered by the company. Westby says the chip is implanted between a person’s thumb and forefinger and the data is both encrypted and secure.

Westby says the company plans to market the technology to other major companies, many of which, he says, have already expressed a great deal of interest.

Critics of the technology, however, say microchipping human beings sounds a little too much like “1984” and question the true need for it.

“Conceptually you could get data about your health, and you could [get] data about your whereabouts, how often you’re working, how long you’re working, if you’re taking toilet breaks and things like that,” microbiologist Ben Libberton of the Swedish university Karolinska Institute told Australian ABC (http://www.news.com.au/technology/science/human-body/swedish-company-epicenter-implants-microchips-into-employees/news-story/5c48700ebb54262ae389db085593ab12). All of that data could conceivably be collected. So then the question is: What happens to it afterwards? What is it used for? Who is going to be using it? Who is going to be seeing it?”

Westby says that at this point getting the chip is voluntary and that no employees are being forced to receive the technology. He did not clarify if at any point in the future, however, that may change.

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