Dystopian nightmare or a simple convenience? A Swedish company implanting microchips under the skin has promoted its devices for use as a COVID-19 health pass in a country with thousands of early adopters.
“I think it’s very much part of my integrity to have myself chipped and keep my data there with me, I feel that it’s even more controlled on my end,” Amanda Back, a Stockholm resident who has implanted the subcutaneous chip developed by disruptive Subdermals, told AFP.
Though still rare, several thousand Swedes have opted to have an electronic implant inserted under the skin in recent years, eliminating the need to remember key fobs, business cards, public transport cards, and recently: vaccine passes.
The country that created the show “Real Humans” and its English language adaptation “Humans” is also a stronghold of so-called biohackers who are convinced that humans will become ever more entangled with technology in the future.
“I have a chip implant in my arm, and I have programmed the chip so that I have my COVID-19 passport on the chip, and the reason is that I always want to have it accessible and when I read my chip, I just swipe my phone on the chip, and then I unlock, and it opens up,” said Hannes Sjoblad, managing director of disruptive Subdermals, as a PDF with his vaccine certificate appeared on his phone.
“A chip implant costs a hundred euros if you want to buy the more advanced versions, and you can compare this with, for example, a health wearable that will cost perhaps twice that but at the same time a chip implant you can use for twenty, thirty, forty years. Whereas a wearable you can only use for three, four years,” he added.
For Sjoblad, the Covid pass is just one example of a possible application, which will be a “thing for the winter of 2021-2022”.
The Swedish entrepreneur added he has a “strong interest in privacy.”
While he acknowledged that many “people see chip implants as a scary technology, as a surveillance technology,” Sjoblad said that instead, they should be viewed as a simple ID tag.
“They don’t have a battery, they cannot transmit the signal by themselves, so they’re asleep, they can never tell your location, they are only activated when you touch them with your smartphone,” he said.
All implants are voluntary, and if someone were to make them compulsory for prisoners or elderly people in retirement homes, “you will find me on the barricades,” Sjoblad said.
“Nobody can force anyone to get a chip implant.”