The Pegleg: an implanted, meshing, networked mass-storage device that you sew into your skin

New biohacking from the Four Thieves Vinegar Collective (previously): the Pegleg, a stripped-down Piratebox (previously) based on a Raspberry Pi 0 with needless components removed and an extra wifi card soldered on.

The whole thing is coated in an implant-safe material and sewn under your skin, where it can be powered by an external battery that uses an induction coil to transmit power to it.

Like a regular Piratebox, the Pegleg is a meshing file-server that you fill with any files you want to share or keep, and which can be fetched from nearby wifi-enabled devices.

Unlike the Piratebox, the Pegleg can't be (easily) confiscated at a border crossing or other checkpoint, and the Constitutionality of compelling disclosure of keys or logins is more complex and muddled (possibly to the benefit of the bearer) than with other devices.

The device measures 2.56" x 1.18" x 0.196" and has so little metal that it hasn't set off airport metal detectors in field tests.

The first Pegleg was implanted in Lepht Anonym, and at least two other people have been implanted since.

The creators liken it to Johnny Mnemonic's implant in the William Gibson story and film of the same name, and speculate that it could be used to transport data that the bearer couldn't decrypt.

Esha Bhandari, a staff attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, says a device like the Pegleg raises concerns similar to those surrounding implanted Internet-connected devices, such as a "smart" pacemaker.

"This, to me, seems like a variant of that. How much privacy are you entitled to? Will the government be able to demand that you reveal devices every time [you travel]?" she says. "People who've had surgery will often declare when they travel that they have metal in their body. But the data is the same whether it's embedded in your skin or carried in a device or transmitted over the Internet."

Bhandari says it's also not clear whether activists or whistleblowers would even consider getting an implanted networked hard drive. "Something involving surgery is not necessarily going to be easier to get to than people who need tools like encryption," she says. And it's even less clear whether a customs agent at an international border would be allowed to compel someone to turn on an implanted device the way it could compel the unlocking of a laptop or phone—or, moreover, whether a government agency could subpoena data from (or demand the surgical removal of) an implanted device.

Biohackers chase Johnny Mnemonic with 'Pegleg' implanted hard drive [Seth Rosenblatt/The Parallax]