Replacing keys, business cards and train tickets with a microchip inserted under the skin is a reality for a few thousand Swedes. But is this device really harmless?
The subcutaneous chip is no longer a sci-fi movie script in Sweden. In this country, keen on new technologies, a few thousand brave people are already equipped with them. The practice remains confidential but is not discussed in Sweden, where the social insured have long accepted the sharing of their personal information between public administrations.
The electronic implant inserted under the skin replaces keys, business cards and train tickets. Harmless accessory that simplifies the daily life for its defenders, the chip is currently an entirely passive object, assure its promoters. It only transmits data when you put your hand on a NFC (Near Field Communication) card reader.
The chip, digital wallet
Ulrika Celsing, 28, is one of 3,000 followers in Sweden, a country of 10 million people. For her, finished the eternal quest for her keys in her purse. To enter the office, she simply slides her hand on a small box, type her code and the door opens.
A sort of electronic purse, the chip can also take over the train tickets of the national railway company SJ. Available for a year, this service has convinced some 130 users: the traveler reserves his ticket online and saves it on his chip.
The implantation of the chip can cause infections
When her company organized a demonstration where employees could have this small object implanted in their hand, Ulrika “followed the movement”. “It was cool to try something new, and in the future, see how it can be used to make life easier,” she says.
Apart from a vague pain when the syringe inserted the chip in her left hand, Ulrika did not feel anything and uses her implant almost daily, without fear of hacking or possible surveillance. “Technology has not come to the point where you can hack your chip,” she says. But “in the future, maybe it will be necessary to think about it, I can always take it off …”
For Ben Libberton, a microbiologist, the dangers are already real. The implantation of the chip can cause “infections and (…) reactions of the immune system,” he says.
What about personal data?
“The biggest risk concerns the data: at the moment, the data collected and shared by the implants are few but it will probably increase,” says the researcher.
“If an implant one day can detect a medical problem in his carrier, who will be informed and when? Will insurance companies get information on our health?”, He wonders . According to him, “the more data contained in one place (as would be the case with an implant) are numerous, the greater the risk that it is used against us is important”.
A fear that Jowan Österlund, specialist in piercings and self-proclaimed champion of implanting chips, sweeps. On the contrary, if you carry all your personal data, it allows us to better control their use, he says, believing that a user is free or not to use his chip. And remove it.
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