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What is wrong with Sweden these days?

I have a load of articles to post on that nation’s woes, but, as those will take time to pull together, the following news item will suffice for the moment.

On February 6, 2017, Computerworld reported that office workers in Stockholm have been queueing up for RFID implants:

The corporate tenants of a Swedish high-tech office complex are having RFID chips implanted in their hands, enabling access through security doors, as well as services such as copy machines, all without PIN codes or swipe cards.

The employees working at Epicenter, a 15,000-square-foot building in Stockholm, can even pay for lunch using their implants — just as they would with the swipe of a credit card …

“The fact that some people at the Epicenter office have chosen to replace their key fobs with NFC implants is their own personal choice,” said Hannes Sjöblad, founder of Bionyfiken, a Swedish association of Biohackers. “It’s a small, but indeed fast-growing, fraction which has chosen to try it out.”

Sjöblad said there are also several other offices, companies, gyms and education institutions in Stockholm where people access the facilities with implanted RFID/NFC chips (near field communication).

Some workers even make a social event out of the implanting (emphases mine):

Participants in the Bionyfiken project normally pay for their own implants. There are even “implant parties,” that involve from eight to 15 “implantees” and a bit of socializing around the experience.

Not surprisingly, Sjöblad is thrilled with the response.

I was working in marketing in an IT environment when RFID chips began being used 15 years ago. Naturally, the companies producing these chips waxed lyrical about their many benefits. At that time, they were used in tracking products, equipment and shipments.

However, even then, IT experts foresaw the human potential — and pitfalls — of chipping people. RFID supporters — and gullible senior managers — said they were ‘perfectly safe’. Detractors, like myself, wondered about mandatory chipping or identity theft.

Of course, the Swedes are far from being the first people to get RFID implants. However, they seem to be the first to have gone for it en masse — and voluntarily.

Some will draw a Revelation-type lesson from this.

I don’t.

I am concerned about criminal high-tech hacking of these chips, even when they are carried on a key fob, which some workers in Stockholm have opted for.

Just think how much information is in that chip and how these people can be tracked anywhere, anytime.

I am not alone in my concern.

The Computerworld article goes on to say:

John Kindervag, a principal security and privacy analyst at Forrester Research, said RFID implants are simply “scary” and pose a major threat to privacy and security.

While RFID/NFC chips, whether implanted or carried in a fob, are passive and not activated until they come within inches of an electronic reader, that reader can be hacked by impersonating another person’s RFID chip to gain sensitive data.

Additionally, nefarious thieves can also set up readers in inconspicuous places (such as retail stores) to activate RFID/NFC chips, stealing access to the same information.

The Swedes are too trusting and too nice. This story is just the tip of the Swedish iceberg.

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