Opal Card reader in Sydney

Bodyhacker fined after using implanted chip to pay for public transport

Image credit: Dreamstime

An Australian man named Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow has been fined for not using a valid train ticket, having previously implanted his travel card chip into his hand.

In 2017, Meow-Meow removed the chip from his Opal Card, had it cut down and wrapped in biocompatible plastic, then had it surgically implanted it into his hand by a piercing expert in a short procedure. This enabled him to swipe on and off public transport in Sydney without carrying a card with him.

“My goal is to have frictionless interaction with technology,” Meow-Meow told ABC. “It gives me an ability that not everyone else has, so if someone stole my wallet I could still get home.”

Meow-Meow’s Opal Card chip is the second near-field communication (NFC) chip he has had implanted in his body; the other chip stores documents. NFC chips allow for rapid wireless data transfer at short range without an internet connection.

He was later charged with using public transport without a valid ticket and for failing to produce a valid ticket to transport officers. Appearing at Newtown Local Court in Sydney, Meow-Meow pleaded guilty to both charges. He was fined $220 and ordered to pay costs of $1,000.

Meow-Meow’s lawyer argued that transport legislation had adapted over time to encompass alternative payment methods, such as smartphone payments and contactless card payments. All available technologies enabling payments should be permitted, including implants, he argued; Meow-Meow was simply ahead of the law.

Magistrate Michael Quinn agreed that legislation may encompass this technology in the future, but the law as it stands today must be observed.

Following his appearance in court, Meow-Meow said that he was “disappointed” by the decision and that he would continue to experiment with implanted technology, aiming to eventually implant a chip that could also allow him to make credit card payments and record memberships.

Meow-Meow is a ‘biohacker’ or ‘bodyhacker’: a person with interest in modifying their bodies for experimental, aesthetic or practical reasons. This can range from the implant of useful chips beneath the skin to the reshaping of body parts to resemble nonhuman humanoids.

In 2016 and 2017, Meow-Meow ran as a candidate for the pro-tech Science Party of Australia.

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