The Swedish State Railways has decided to accept under-the-skin RFID tag implants for ticket purchases, arguing it enhances ticketless travel better than having your ticket in your mobile. Actually, they didn’t argue that at all. They just said “we’re digital” and “it works” as if that would justify the rest.

Sweden is a European state which, until recently, celebrated the fact that people were able to travel between European and Nordic countries without a passport or other identification papers. Since a few years back, the governmental train company, which operates with all the efficiency of one, changed all that on its own — by requiring photo ID to take the train just to the next city. The official reason for going all papieren, bitte on people just going to the next town was to “prevent the second-hand sale of attractive tickets”.

This company — the Swedish State Railways — has an insanely bad reputation in the country, known for never arriving on time and for mediocre service. To paint a picture of the service level, the company offers some compensation if passengers get more than an hour delayed with a local train (within the European state of Sweden).

This is the company now priding itself on “being digital” and announcing an extremely privacy-invasive method for travel. It may well be that it’s more convenient. That’s obviously not where the cause for concern is.

“We will never force somebody to have a chip implanted”, says Stephan Ray, press spokesperson for the State Railways.

I wish I could believe this — for this has been the standard line every single time a new privacy invasion has been presented. And there’s a catch which sounds all too familiar:

“We don’t rule out giving special advantages to travelers with under-the-skin RFID chips,” Ray adds.

At what point does this translate to putting ridiculous burden on people without under-skin RFID tags, even if it will technically not require them to implant? That’s usually a few years before the option is taken away altogether, judging from history.

As a final note, the article from the Stockholm local paper also notes that the local buses, trams, and subways are also seeking to start using passenger under-skin-RFID-tags for travel. Yes, you read that right: people in Sweden are seriously considering under-skin RFID tags to be a nice, cozy form of bus and subway ticket.

Fortunately, this is not something that would go over well in other European states. If I were to describe the Swedish attitude to this in a few words, I would choose “trusting and naïve”. This is in stark contrast to other states — say, Germany — which take privacy extremely seriously: Berlin’s ticket vending machines to the local public transport sell paper tickets for cash, and it would be inconceivable to remove that option, as was done a long time ago in Sweden (where you can instead buy identified tickets to your identified phone using an identified credit card).

As a final note, the image to this article shows animal tags. That’s because it’s the technology used. “Tagged like an animal” is quite literal. There’s also the concern of malware infecting such chips, which has been proven possible – and with RFID technology, the malware could spread quickly.

Privacy remains your own responsibility.

Source: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/blog/2017/05/train-tickets-rfid-tags-europe/

Sweden's state-owned rail operator SJ is allowing passengers to use microchip implants rather than conventional tickets. 
The idea is currently being trialed just among some SJ members. It means all they need to travel is their left hand and the small microchip implanted in it. Authorities believe implanting the microchip will make the train journey more convenient.

SJ claims to be the first travel company in the world to enable passengers to use microchip implants to validate their tickets. The small implants use Near Field Communication technology, the same tech used in contactless credit cards or mobile payments. 

Implanting microchips under the skin is becoming increasingly popular in Sweden. But experts warn there are security and privacy issues to consider.

Source: http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/06/12/525048/microchip-implants-Swedish-railway

A few months ago, a Swedish company gained international headlines after launching an internal program under which staff were encouraged to have themselves implanted with security micro-chips.

Now, in a sign the technology is catching on, Sweden's state-run public transport provider "SJ" has got in on the action.

It's now allowing commuters to travel on its trains with just a wave of their hand.

Featured:

Stephen Ray, spokesman for Sweden's Rail Provider SJ
Lina Edstrom, spokeswoman for Sweden's Rail Provider SJ
Ben Libberton, microbiologist, Karolinska Institute

Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-12/swedens-state-rail-provider-waves-through/8611244

"MANILA, Philippines – The next big thing in computing could be a glass-encased chip embedded under the skin of your left hand.

Think of it as an extension of the wearables that can track your movement, your sleep, your heart and pulse rate now. Chip implants can do so much more.

In its early stages today, it can store data that can be read by Near Field Communication (NFC) readers. Technically speaking you can open your door, your car just by scanning your hand in the NFC reader. It can serve as your key or access pass to the gym, the library, the office, or wherever is it that requires identification.

If you think that chips embedded in the human body can turn you into a cyborg, fear not because the reality is less frightening than that, according to Hanness Sjoblad, Chief Disruption Officer and Founder, BioNyfiken.

In a presentation entitled “Chirping Humans: The Internet of Things Becomes the Internet of Us,” at the Kaspersky Lab APAC Cyber Security Summit in Malaysia recently, Sjöblad, along with Rainer Bock and Sergey Lozhkin of Kaspersky Lab, explained that while still a rarity (only around 10,000 people around the world have chips implanted in their hand), it is fast gaining attention, especially in Europe and the US.

The use cases are built around the ease and convenience of not having to carry around too many things in your wallet or your handbag. Just scan your hand and you’re good to go.

Sjoblad said there were many interface moments in computing history that made human interaction with computers a lot simpler. Using computers before Windows, for example, is an absolute pain. It’s the same way with using the Internet before the Web browsers. Windows and Web browsers are only some of the landmarks in computer interfaces that have made it very easy for people to interact with computers.

“My personal take is that implants represent a similar interface moment between humans and technology because of the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT),” Sjoblad said. “Our world will be filled with connected things. If you have a smart device in your hand you have automatic way to interact with technology.”

Defined as the network of physical objects embedded with software, sensors and connectivity, IoT is indeed growing rapidly. Juniper Research recently reported  that the number of IoT connected devices is on track to reach 13.4 billion this year and is expected to rise to 38.5 billion by 2020. These connected things have varied applications in retail, agriculture, smart buildings and smart grid applications, to name only a few."

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"But the future, Gasson says, is going to focus on implantable technology for healthy people. Part of the reason is that we continually look for ways to make our lives easier. The question is whether we’re willing accept both the unintended and unknown consequences that come with giving up partial control of our bodies to technology."

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The chip allows employees to open doors and use the photocopier without a traditional pass card

Want to gain entry to your office, get on a bus, or perhaps buy a sandwich? We're all getting used to swiping a card to do all these things. But at Epicenter, a new hi-tech office block in Sweden, they are trying a different approach - a chip under the skin.

Felicio de Costa, whose company is one of the tenants, arrives at the front door and holds his hand against it to gain entry. Inside he does the same thing to get into the office space he rents, and he can also wave his hand to operate the photocopier.

That's all because he has a tiny RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip, about the size of a grain of rice, implanted in his hand. Soon, others among the 700 people expected to occupy the complex will also be offered the chance to be chipped. Along with access to doors and photocopiers, they're promised further services in the longer run, including the ability to pay in the cafe with a touch of a hand.

On the day of the building's official opening, the developer's chief executive was, himself, chipped live on stage. And I decided that if was to get to grips with this technology, I had to bite the bullet - and get chipped too.

The whole process is being organised by a Swedish bio-hacking group which was profiled by my colleague Jane Wakefield recently. One of its members, a rather fearsome looking tattooist, inserted my chip.

First, he massaged the skin between my thumb and index finger and rubbed in some disinfectant. The he told me to take a deep breath while he inserted the chip. There was a moment of pain - not much worse than any injection - and then he stuck a plaster over my hand.

Before trying my chip out, I wanted to know more about the thinking behind it. Hannes Sjoblad, whose electronic business card is on his own chip and can be accessed with a swipe of a smartphone, has the title chief disruption officer at the development. I asked him whether people really wanted to get this intimate with technology.

"We already interact with technology all the time," he told me. "Today it's a bit messy - we need pin codes and passwords. Wouldn't it be easy to just touch with your hand? That's really intuitive."

When I tested my chip, I found that it was not all that intuitive - I had to twist my hand into an unnatural position to make the photocopier work. And while some of the people around the building were looking forward to being chipped, others were distinctly dubious. "Absolutely not," said one young man when I asked him if he'd sign up. An older woman was more positive about the potential of the technology but saw little point in being chipped just to get through a door.

But Hannes Sjoblad says he and the Swedish Biohacking Group have another objective - preparing us all for the day when others want to chip us. "We want to be able to understand this technology before big corporates and big government come to us and say everyone should get chipped - the tax authority chip, the Google or Facebook chip." Then, he says, we'll all be able to question the way the technology is implemented from a position of much greater knowledge.

I've returned to Britain with a slightly sore hand - and a chip still under my skin which has my contact details on it. Not that useful, but no doubt more sophisticated chips will soon replace wearable technology like fitness bands or payment devices, and we will get used to being augmented. All sorts of things are possible - whether it becomes culturally acceptable to insert technology beneath our skin is another matter.