Biohacker Who Implanted Travel Pass Under His Skin Receives Fine For Not Owning Valid Ticket


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer


How plebs use Opal cards. Chameleon's Eye/Shutterstock

A biohacker by the name of Meow-Meow has been having some trouble lately with his Opal card, a tap-to-pay smartcard ticket usable on public transportation in New South Wales (NSW). No, he hasn’t lost it – he’s implanted its chip into his hand, which has set off a series of unfortunate events leading to a rather unique conviction.

Sydney-based Mr Meow-Meow – real name, Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow, rather spectacularly – recently took the near-field communication (NFC) chip from his Opal card and, encasing it in plastic, he carefully inserted it under his skin with the help of a piercing expert.


The idea was simple: you can never lose your travel ticket if it’s stuck in your body. Sadly, back in June of last year, ABC News reported that the NSW transport authorities weren’t best pleased.

Apart from worrying that others may also carry out similarly bespoke experiments, they said, in a statement, that “Transport for NSW does not support the tampering or damaging of Opal Cards, which would be a breach of the terms of use.”

Under their terms of use, they can have such customer’s cards canceled and even confiscated, the latter option of which is essentially impossible with Mr Meow-Meow.

Now, as reported over at Gizmodo, the very same Australian biohacker has been convicted by the state authorities. They fined him the equivalent of $169 back in August for not traveling with a valid ticket, despite the fact that he still had ample cash left on the chip, which has triggered an unprecedented legal case.


Meow-Meow actually pled guilty, because he is clearly in contravention of the rules of owning an Opal card; the local court magistrate noted that you have to abide by the law as it stands, not by what it might be in the future.


As Gizmodo noted, the fight is more than just one of transportation rules and regulations. It touches on larger themes of government intervention, and the perceived right to adapt our bodies to emerging technology or technological trends without interference.

ABC News explains that a defiant Meow-Meow is going further with the technology in the future. He hopes to install another chip that contains all his personal information, including bank details.

Biohacking, although new, is becoming increasingly widespread. Far from just implanting wireless, tap-to-pay technologies in their skin, the nascent field has seen diverse support both from individuals and research laboratories and institutes. From implantable blood testing devices and biosensing tattoos for diabetics to cool-but-functionless bioluminescence emulators, the future is bright for the young industry.


That also means that Meow-Meow’s legal case may be bizarre now, but we’ll be willing to bet that plenty more both like and unlike it are coming over the horizon. 


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