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The Majority of Russians Do Not Support Microchip Implants

The Majority of Russians Do Not Support Microchip Implants

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The majority of Russians would not agree to being fitted with microchip implants for any purposes—medical or otherwise. A joint study conducted by HSE University’s International Laboratory for Applied Network Research and Aventica found that respondents believe the risks of personal data leaks and misuse to be too high.

The study was conducted in spring 2021 in Poland, Croatia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Russia. The aim of the project was to study society’s relationship to medical microchips, the social context, and the level of acceptance of similar innovations. The results were presented at a research seminar at the International Laboratory for Applied Network Research by Junior Research Fellow Stanislav Moiseev.

Stanislav Moiseev

Passive microchip implants utilize radio-frequency identification technology (RFID), which uses radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation to automate the reading and recording of accounting and control data on a device. Today, RFID is widely used in retail for identification, unlocking, and storing volumes of information up to 512 kB.

Medical microchips take the form of a small (slightly bigger than 1 cm) implant encased in hypoallergenic glass. They do not require a power source and can be read over a short distance.

The pandemic has prompted active discussion of the topic of human microchip implants, particularly in regard to mass vaccination against COVID-19.

Surveys show that the vast majority of Russians believe that people should have the right to control their personal information, with 80% of respondents saying that no one should be able to collect or disclose such information without the individual’s consent. Almost three-quarters of those surveyed in Russia reported being worried about threats to the integrity of their private life, while 82% believe that organisations and agencies ask individuals to provide too much personal information. More than 70% believe that the use of electronic devices comes with a real risk of data leaks.

Just over half of those surveyed considered the use of microchips to monitor human health to be a good idea. People believe that such implants could help save lives, transmit information about organ donors, store and receive personalised medical information in accidents and emergencies, and even provide notifications about potential health issues and complications. What’s more, the majority of respondents agreed that microchips could be used during pandemics to identify people who are infected or vaccinated.

Only 37% of respondents said that they would agree to have a microchip implanted for medical purposes, while 22% would do so for identification and 13% would do so to make purchases. A further 22% said that they would only agree to receive such an implant if they could be sure that the chip would not be used to track them using GPS. According to Stanislav Moiseev, Russians also show fairly progressive attitudes towards personal data collection. The low willingness to get fitted with a microchip implant is due to the fact that people are always wary of new innovations. Almost all of those surveyed admitted that the technology has future applications, but that it currently presents more risks than opportunities.

Tamara Shcheglova—another member of the research group—explained that Russians were more likely than citizens of other countries to mention concerns over the health impact of microchip implants. They are mostly worried about potential allergic reactions, as well as their effects on the nervous system and emotional behaviour. Many are also worried about pain and the possibility of the implant moving around inside their body. Russians also demonstrated the lowest levels of trust in the government, banks, and healthcare system when it comes to protecting personal data.

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