Wisconsin technology firm Three Square Market has injected 80 employees with their own brand of RFID microchips over the last year, and according to MIT Technology Review, "they love it."
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," meaning the microchip stores data that can be read by other devices but cannot read data themselves.
The chip's applications are devilishly simple; from locked doors, to cashless commerce, to providing first responders with detailed medical information in the event of an emergency - the possibilities are seemingly endless.
“It’s just become such a part of my routine,” says VP of finance Steve Kassekert, who says he was miffed when the RFID reader on the vending machine went down a couple of months ago.
And sure, buried towards the end of the MTR article are concerns over security - such as the fact that anyone with an RFID reader can cozy up to a chipped individual and ping their implant to glean personal information. But hey - CEO Patrick McMullan points out that "similar personal information could be stolen from his wallet, too."
“You can sniff it if you’re at a bus stop,” he says.
You can even install them yourself...
Europe's already with the program
As we reported in May, over 3,000 Swedes have implanted tiny microchips beneath their skin to replace their credit card information, identification, keys, train tickets, among other everyday items, according to Agence France-Press.
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.
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.
So for those unconcerned about being sniffed, or a dystopian future in which corporations and governments use the chips to track and collect private data on citizens, or machete-weilding thugs who might take your severed hand on a shopping spree, or that the chips are the "mark of the beast," sounds like a great idea!