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A brave step forward for cyborg rights? A media stunt? Or just indifference to contract law? Those are the questions raised by news that biohacker Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow plans to take Transport for NSW (TfNSW) to court after it cancelled his digital travel card.
Last April, Mr Meow-Meow removed the chip from his card and had it surgically implanted under the skin of his hand. The dispute highlights tensions in how enthusiasts are adopting new technologies, ideologies of posthumanism and the ability of law to cope with disruption.
Reminder - Something
It's also a reminder that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.
Mr Meow-Meow is a biohacktivist. He has been a candidate in several elections for the Science Party. Prior to the current controversy he attracted attention for a DIY community DNA lab in Sydney – an expression of citizen science in which members of the public were encouraged to experiment with DNA.
TfNSW - Transport - State - Consumers - TfNSW
TfNSW runs public transport in the state, and many consumers rely on the TfNSW OPAL card. It's a stored-value card that replaces traditional tickets and cash payment on buses, trains and ferries. The card is a piece of plastic with a RFID tag – a chip that is read wirelessly at points across the transport network.
That technology is not new – it's being used in retail logistics and for access cards at universities. It is also the basis for "chipping" cats, dogs and other animals, so that owners can be reunited with their lost companions.
Mr - Meow-Meow - Chip - Opal - Card
Mr Meow-Meow removed the chip from his Opal card for insertion under his skin. Rather than waving his card at a reader when travelling by train, he merely needed to wave his arm.
The law says 'no'
Law - People - Prosthetics - People - Spectacles
Australian law recognises that people use prosthetics, and will increasingly do so. Many people wear spectacles. Some use hearing aids....
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If the Government could just stop...