More than 3,000 people in Sweden have implanted tiny microchips beneath their skin to replace their credit card information, identification, keys, train tickets, among other everyday items, Agence France-Press announced Sunday.
The implant, which is about the size of a grain of rice, utilizes Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, also found in credit cards, debit cards, key fobs, and smartphones. This technology is considered “passive,” which means the microchip stores data that can be read by other devices but cannot read data themselves.
This might resemble an Orwellian nightmare to many, but in Sweden, residents are flocking to get these implanted microchips by “convenience over concerns of potential personal data violations,” AFP explained.
Governments in Europe quietly experimented with embedding the small chip in humans in 2015 in Sweden, and several other countries in the region, before the recent rollout.
“Swedes have gone on to be very active in microchipping, with scant debate about issues surrounding its use, in a country keen on new technology and where the sharing of personal information is held up as a sign of a transparent society,” AFP notes.
Ulrika Celsing is one of 3,000 Swedes with a microchip implanted in her hand — a process called “biohacking.” The 28-year-old told AFP, “It was fun to try something new and to see what one could use it for to make life easier in the future.”
Celsing explained that the microchip has turned into an “electronic handbag” and has even replaced her gym card.
She can even book a train ticket online, and then use her hand like a ticket to board a train.
Swedish rail company is trialing letting passengers use biometric chips as tickets. (Source: The Independent)
While the tiny microchips can store personal data that can be extracted by other devices, they are considered passive — which means the chip cannot read data themselves. Meanwhile, some still have concerns that the progression of this technology could jeopardize personal security.
“I don’t think our current technology is enough to get chip hacked,” Celsing told AFP. “But I may think about this again in the future. I could always take it out then.”
” Sweden has a track record on the sharing of personal information, which may have helped ease the microchip’s acceptance among the Nordic country’s 10 million-strong population. Citizens have long accepted the sharing of their personal details, registered by the social security system, with other administrative bodies, while people can find out each others’ salaries through a quick phone call to the tax authority,” AFP said.
There are still serious privacy and security concerns associated with biohacking Swedes. Regarding privacy, corporations will have unprecedented access to personal data of consumers and or employees.
In the fast-approaching dystopic future, corporations and government could soon be collecting private data on their citizens via implanted microchips.
Also, the security risk behind any wireless technology leaves the device vulnerable to hackers, who will eventually discover wireless methods to steal personal data stored on the microchip.
However, Jowan Osterlund, a piercings specialist and advocate of biohacking Swedes, “brushes off fears of data misuse and conspiracy theories,” said AFP.
Osterlund argues if Swedes carried their data on them all the time, they would be in better control of where their data went. He has been an organizer of “implant party,” a gathering where the piercings specialist injects microchips into millennials.
Jowan Osterlund (R), a piercings specialist and self-proclaimed champion of chip implantation, brushes off fears of data misuse and says if we carried all our personal data on us, we would have better control of their use. (Source: AFP)
The needle used to implant the microchip into one’s body. (Source: AFP)
Around 3,000 Swedes have had microchips inserted into their hands that can hold entry codes, buy train tickets and access specific vending machines or printers. (Source: AFP)
What could go wrong?… Sweden is in the beginning innings of biohacking its civilian population and ushering in a dystopic future, where government and corporations will have an unprecedented amount of data on its population. In other words, the country is turning its citizens into cyborgs.