Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Chinese Spying Devices Installed On Hong Kong Cars

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the it's-coming-from-inside-the-faraday-cage dept.

China 171

jjp9999 writes "Spying devices disguised as electronic border cards have been secretly installed on thousands of Hong Kong vehicles by Chinese authorities, according to a Hong Kong newspaper. A translation of the story states Chinese authorities have been installing spying devices on all dual-plate Chinese-Hong Kong vehicles for years, enabling a vast network of eavesdropping across the archipelago."

cancel ×

171 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

It's China... (4, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36432838)

Nothing they do surprises me anymore.

Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36432880)

We took Japan as the big role model for society when it was still market leader 'til their bubble burst, now China is the new role model. Soon we'll see something similar here, of course only to find your car easier if it gets stolen or something like that. And how conveniently easy it is to implement, stick the bug into the license plate! You have to have one to operate your vehicle, it's government issued and it's illegal to tamper with it already. Beauty!

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (5, Informative)

tmach (886393) | more than 3 years ago | (#36432970)

Actually, the current suggestion is to put a device on your car to track the mileage so they can tax you based on how much you drive.

http://money.cnn.com/2011/05/18/news/economy/gas_tax_drivers/?section=money_latest [cnn.com]

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (3, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433080)

...so they can tax you based on how much you drive.

Which is blatant BS (on their part, not yours), since if they only cared how much you drive (rather than where and when), then all they'd have to do is check the fucking odometer!

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (2)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433136)

Or tax at the fuel stating.

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (1)

the grace of R'hllor (530051) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433240)

I'd agree with that, certainly a few years ago. But taxing fuel more won't get you very far as a government when cars go electric.

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (2)

master5o1 (1068594) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433254)

Then get the stonecutters to put a stop to that technology.

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36434548)

Then get the stonecutters to put a stop to that technology.

Well, they're busy keeping the Martians under wraps. I mean, they can't do everything!

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (2)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433510)

That depends on whether they want to use variable road pricing, which was an idea mooted in the UK a few years back. The idea being that you get charged more for driving on roads that are more congested. Or something like that.

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36434382)

...so they can tax you based on how much you drive.

Which is blatant BS (on their part, not yours), since if they only cared how much you drive (rather than where and when), then all they'd have to do is check the fucking odometer!

Yes, because it would be much more efficient for the government to pay people to go around writing down people's mileages from their odometers, after first identifying the owner, getting them to open up the car, writing each one down and collating them each day...

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (0)

simmonsjeffreya (2259752) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433256)

Don't know how I never heard of this. They tax the car purchase, require you to pay to register it, pay for plates, and pay taxes on gas. Why the hell should I then be double taxed, I already paid for the tax on the car AND the gas.

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433420)

Why is the movement of money taxed repeatedly in a way which puts the greatest pressure on the poorest? Why does the majority of government money or money in areas of natural monopoly go back to private contractors and licencees, when government could do most of the work in-house?

Because rich, powerful people everywhere - whatever label they're wearing - want your money and don't want any more competitors. This means siphoning off from your wallet at every stage so no campaign or party donor, no ex school buddy and no family member is left behind.

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433560)

that, and there is so many of them poors.

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433852)

to exploit.

The problem is not too much government or too much corporation. It's too much human.

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (1)

AlecC (512609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36434030)

They could make variable rate road charging revenue neutral. Simply take off fuel taxes the total take from the road-use charge. It doesn't have to be purely incremental. In fact, if I were to bring it in, I would require that it were revenue neutral for the first, say, two years to allow its effects to be seen. Then return it to the general pool of taxes that government can vary according to need.

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#36434408)

Don't know how I never heard of this. They tax the car purchase, require you to pay to register it, pay for plates, and pay taxes on gas. Why the hell should I then be double taxed, I already paid for the tax on the car AND the gas.

No, I think the idea is that you pay tax on mileage instead of directly on gas: as someone has noted above, with electric cars you can't really tax the fuel at source.

Technology seems interesting (3, Informative)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433094)

stick the bug into the license plate!

I do wonder how they work technically. I mean, there can't be much space for a battery in such a licence plate. You can't use RFID like technology at a distance of more than 10-50 meters, which would make actual eavesdropping a challenge even for a government. If it is to have any semblance of being secret obviously you can't use the car's battery or electrical systems.

Very weak radio transmitters still need about a watt for reasonable communications (ie. cell phones). So if you wish to use something like this for, say a year (they're valid for a year), you'd need a tiny, tiny 31 MJ (that's megajoule) battery, or 3 KWh, but it can't be much larger than a watch battery.

So how the hell do you keep that thing powered ?

For that matter, which radio do you use ? Cell network ? It would require a hell of a lot of people in the loop.

Re:Technology seems interesting (2)

nzac (1822298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433192)

Read the article, the battery is 3 AA(A)s in plastic.

You don't need a anything close to that to have them on standby. They could activate them when they scan them crossing the border for a period of time with a known bit sequence of arbitrary length.
The article writer/PI is pretty bad though at least one of the crystals is the clock for the microchip no (need for two carriers). To me is looks like the black one is providing a clock to a high power transistor for the carrier the blue is just too close to the chip to be anything else.

Re:Technology seems interesting (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433210)

stick the bug into the license plate!

I do wonder how they work technically. I mean, there can't be much space for a battery in such a licence plate. You can't use RFID like technology at a distance of more than 10-50 meters, which would make actual eavesdropping a challenge even for a government. If it is to have any semblance of being secret obviously you can't use the car's battery or electrical systems.

Very weak radio transmitters still need about a watt for reasonable communications (ie. cell phones). So if you wish to use something like this for, say a year (they're valid for a year), you'd need a tiny, tiny 31 MJ (that's megajoule) battery, or 3 KWh, but it can't be much larger than a watch battery.

So how the hell do you keep that thing powered ?

For that matter, which radio do you use ? Cell network ? It would require a hell of a lot of people in the loop.

Perhaps they are very low power transmitters and there is a network of receivers... perhaps the bugs have data storage which they dump when in range of a receiver. Who knows maybe its a mesh or p2p system. But enough clueless speculation - from actual article, their is more than one type of device. One type is about the size of a PDA (so no need to speculate about nano batteries and friggin lasers) with a range of around 20km. Don't forget the penisula is not that big. The ones in the article are fitted to the front window inside the car - not on the bumper catching carbon-based bugs. It also sounds like they were being used to detect smugglers - so maybe they only had to transmit the conversation in the vehicle as it approached the checkpoint.

[simulated translation]OK - border guard coming up be absolutely calm - these Chinese are too stupid to know we are smuggling vast amounts of...

And that's where I get stuck - trying to figure out what is profitable to smuggle into China. Milk products made from milk?

Re:Technology seems interesting (1)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433444)

And that's where I get stuck - trying to figure out what is profitable to smuggle into China. Milk products made from milk?

Religious texts and other restricted or forbidden items or material, drugs. Whatever is illegal and has demand and sometimes it isn't about profit.

Re:Technology seems interesting (3, Informative)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433872)

And that's where I get stuck - trying to figure out what is profitable to smuggle into China. Milk products made from milk?

Religious texts and other restricted or forbidden items or material, drugs.

That's the problem - pot's kind of hard to get hold of down south, but up north it's not hard to find. Methamphetamines are everywhere Cocaine I wouldn't know about - but I'd be surprised if it wasn't available - there's certainly plenty of heroin moving around. Firearms are dirt cheap. China makes most of the things that are illegal in the West. And there's no money in Bibles - they're not even restricted anymore - it's only fruitcake Americans that bang on about raising money to ship Bibles to China - there's a hell of a lot more Bibles in China than there are people who want to read them. Trust me - after you've spent a couple of days in the industrial and commercial boom-towns you begin to realise that if there's a demand it'll be satisfied in just a couple of days, well maybe not satisfactory, and probably toxic. Whiskey is cheaper in China than Hong Kong. As for western tech - it's all made there in the first place. I agree there's got to be a market for smuggling something into China (apart from smuggling workers without passes back). On the other hand a shitload of stuff gets smuggled into Hong Kong.

Re:Technology seems interesting (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36434140)

Yea, there's an idea for eavesdropping, place a bug in a spot with a lot of general noise when operating and where few people have conversations. If they required that you put it on your dashboard and announce yourself first, then I'd start to wonder such things. If this is the best that Red China can come up with, well then, no wonder communism is on the wane.

All the 'spying' that they need is done just by being active and identifiable at specific points, like ezpass. Perhaps the thing was just built by a committee, or someone who wanted to sell extra parts, or had a large engineering margin. People get so worked up about the silliest of menudo, while the real suppression becomes 'old news' and accepted. Oddly all this does is make them far less capable of spying than the City of London (when if comes to cars, but I'm sure that they keep great records on people).

Re:Technology seems interesting (1)

black soap (2201626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36434536)

Minutiae may be silly, but menudo never is.

Re:Technology seems interesting (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433356)

Looking at the pic again:
The technology is something a 4 year engineer student (like me) would put together though whole pcb, looks to be single or double layer.
The big white component (don’t recognise it) is about the only thing that might not be close to 10 year old tech off the shelf.

If anyone can recognise it, is the black chip is it an ASIC/CPLD or a SAM/ARM chip?
The only thing high tech about the enlarged section is possibly the code on the chip.

Since there is no speaker shown and the rest of the hardware is actually needed for wireless ID i don't see any real evidence basis for this apart from some badly translated smuggler i just can't believe he would have said anything close to that.

Re:Technology seems interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433512)

First of all, these things don't need to transmit continuously. A burst every 15 minutes would probably still give far too much detail. Secondly, 1W is enough for several kilometers range. You can have a dense mesh of receivers for transmitters with that kind of range even if you are not the government. One AA battery is good for about 1Wh under rough environmental conditions. That's 36000 1W bursts of 1/10 seconds each, or about one year of one burst every 15 minutes. Low power devices like these could also easily be powered from vibration. I'd worry more about radio interference.

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433156)

We took Japan as the big role model for society when it was still market leader 'til their bubble burst, now China is the new role model. Soon we'll see something similar here, of course only to find your car easier if it gets stolen or something like that. And how conveniently easy it is to implement, stick the bug into the license plate! You have to have one to operate your vehicle, it's government issued and it's illegal to tamper with it already. Beauty!

Until some arsehole steals your license plates. Oh, wait....

Re:Hey, we're learning from the market leaders! (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433960)

Hey gamers, help me out with your combo skills!

When .gov quits pretending to actually be for citizens, they'll just pull up the covers with the nice Corps they're in bed with. Let's pair the last two semi-consecutive stories in a row.

"Location aware apps from Adobe. Spying from Government."

Why are we now falling for the spin? Are we that desperate for Minority Report style ads?

Re:It's China... (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36432920)

Yeah really, pretty clumsy effort.. In the 'west' we do it right, we build the device into the car.. inside your rear view mirror is a hidden camera and mic

Re:It's China... (3, Interesting)

Mistlefoot (636417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36432974)

Isn't this legal for the government to do in the US as well? Not much they do surprises me either though....

Re:It's China... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433024)

The key difference between China and the US is that in the US they have to explain to the people why it is good for them, but in China they use censorship. You can make almost anything sound like it is good for the people's best interest, so there isn't much difference right now.

I think the key game changer in both countries is information. The hope is that a more intelligent voter in the US *might* not just elect liars. And in China's case, more information *might* be able to see through the censorship.

Clearly the US has a superior government, because a democracy is always preferred to a dictatorship for the average citizen. A democracy needs to be controlled by the citizens though, and not the citizens controlled by the government's propaganda.

Where it might get real tricky is soon the US will probably continue to fiddle with the Internet and shut down more websites(for whatever reason they want to give you) and lets hope they don't trample the first amendment too much in the process. It is easy to imagine a well designed political website becoming big that compares a candidate's campaign promise with his voting record that might... just might make voters more educated. I mean imagine if it gave you information on incumbents and campaign promises of new candidates, you could just vote for the guy based on their record or promises of things you want. But imagine if this website got shutdown as the US trampled the first amendment.

The future is at war. Will China become more like the US or will the US become more like China?

Re:It's China... (1)

tick-tock-atona (1145909) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433120)

A democracy needs to be controlled by the citizens though, and not the citizens controlled by the government's propaganda.

The US government is controlled by the citizens [salon.com] . Or were you referring to the proles [wikipedia.org] ?

The proles constitute 85% of the population. They receive little education, work at jobs in which tough physical labour is the norm, live in poverty, and usually die by the age of sixty.

...proles are not expected to understand that they are being exploited by the Party as a source of cheap labour and are unable or unwilling to organize resistance. Their functions are simple: work and breed. They care little about anything but home and family, neighbour quarrels, films and football, beer and lottery tickets. They are not required to express support for the Party, except for a mild form of patriotism. The Party creates meaningless songs, novels, even pornography for the proles. Proles do not wear a uniform, can use cosmetics and have a relatively free internal market economy. Proles also have free sex lives, uninterrupted by the Party, and divorce is permitted. Despite the personal freedoms enjoyed by the Proles, the Thought Police moves among them, spreading false rumours and marking down and eliminating any individuals deemed capable of causing trouble.

Re:It's China... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433038)

Probably is, I remember reading about warrantless gps trackers in cars on slashdot before.

Re:It's China... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433158)

In the US they use your phone or in nav system.
http://www.zdnet.com/news/fbi-taps-cell-phone-mic-as-eavesdropping-tool/150467 [zdnet.com]
With the new GPS rules and very friendly telcos, expect ever more data to be available to the FBI with less oversight.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/13/us/13fbi.html [nytimes.com] ie. expect to be of interest after 'five meetings of a group" and enjoy terms like "preliminary investigation", “proactively” ect.
Or just fix a device to your car as a nice and legal "tracking beacon" that lasts for months.
China did good with the use of the case via the resonant cavity idea and having lots of legal electronics that phone home by default.
No need to hope the suspects bring their own always on Apple/Google/MS toys.
Catching 100% was just silly. Learn from the US gun walking efforts http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20040189-503544.html [cbsnews.com] - track that shipment.
Then use passive 'bad luck" at the end or COINTELPRO to weaken the group as they hunt for an informer.

Re:It's China... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433284)

Isn't this legal for the government to do in the US as well? Not much they do surprises me either though....

Since Obama has sold the US to China, they can do whatever they want to US citizens. Expect them to start to embedding these into your butt at your next mandatory ObamaCare inspection.

Re:It's China... (0)

Nethead (1563) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433608)

If Obama sold the US to China, it was to pay off Bush and Cheney's credit card.

(Crap, that is so blatantly partisan.)

Fuck, they are all part of the military industrial complex supported by funds of the Zion bankers that failed (but were saved) and controlled by the Illuminated Ones so that a One World Government would arise (even though a two world government would still allow them to play the "divide the masses" game) and grant a socialist hegemony upon all the world so that citizens/slaves (Except for the Scientology Movie Stars, which are blessed by superpowers and riches because they have good genes and can parrot lines.) would gladly live in quiet (but, let us pretend, happy) desperation while still keeping a decent modicum of basic infrastructure maintained.

I mean, what the fuck is being rich for unless there are poor to piss on.

Re:It's China... (1, Troll)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36434426)

If Obama sold the US to China, it was to pay off Bush and Cheney's credit card.

You are perhaps unaware then that since Obama became President we have run up more debut in three years than Bush managed in eight?

Re:It's China... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433112)

Sure, not much the Chinese government does along the lines of monitoring is surprising.

On the other hand, the only source I have seen cited for this is a newspaper that is primarily a Falun Gong propaganda organ. I would not take this at all seriously until/unless more solid data appears.

Re:It's China... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433900)

You need to follow the source!

The original [googleusercontent.com] is from Apple Daily, the second highest circulation (300,000 in a city of 7 million) newspaper in Hong Kong. It is not particularly pro-Falun Gong. It has strongly pro-democracy (HK doesn't have much of that), pro-free market, pro working class, with the usual Hong Kong mix of high minded analysis, original poetry and literature, lurid celebrity coverage, and serialized softcore porn!

The original article seems well researched. The guy who took it apart is an associate professor in electronic engineering in a local university (City University of Hong Kong). He said that there is a sensitive microphone (which seems unnecessary for its stated function) and a transmitter powerful enough to monitor major urban areas in Hong Kong from across the border.

They went for a second opinion from a PI who said that the transmission range would be a lot lower that the estimated 20 km in built up areas. However, there is no particular reason why China would confine its monitoring to the Chinese mainland outside of Hong Kong. Even apart from the fact that they have taken over the UK/US built monitoring facilities in Hong Kong covering the entire South China sea, Hong Kong is full of Chinese owned companies who could be directed to operate monitoring stations in what is, after all, sovereign Chinese territory.

The main cause for alarm in the original article is whether this might compromise commercial secrets in negotiations between private Hong Kong businessmen, and Chinese companies with semi-official connection.

So, what did they do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433664)

Install a Facebook-App?

How do you not see such a device... (1, Informative)

lscotte (450259) | more than 3 years ago | (#36432856)

When, according to the article, it "is taped onto the vehicle’s front window".

Re:How do you not see such a device... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36432888)

How does seeing help....

When it is disguised as a border pass transponder, which you'd pretty much expect to have "taped onto the vehicle’s front window"?

Re:How do you not see such a device... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36432890)

The government tells you not to see, so you don't. Nothing unusual about it..

Re:How do you not see such a device... (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433216)

The government tells you not to see, so you don't. Nothing unusual about it..

What's fnord in Mandarin?

Re:How do you not see such a device... (2)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#36432900)

So is my Fastrack. Maybe I'm naive, but I never seriously considered it was being used to spy on me... (though now that I think of it, it's probably more likely than not ;)

Re:How do you not see such a device... (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433074)

You're from Hong Kong?

Me too but not a driver, let alone cross-border. I had never heard of these devices.

Could you share with us the daily use of these devices? That is, the stated purpose?

Re:How do you not see such a device... (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433330)

FasTrack [wikipedia.org] is an automated toll collection system used in the California Bay Area. Other US states have similar devices for tollways, etc. It basically just charges an account via RFID so you don't have to stop to pay tolls when driving.

My point was that putting a device on your windshield doesn't necessarily mean you are being spied on... but I guess if the Chinese govt did it, I might be a bit more more suspicious...

Re:How do you not see such a device... (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433398)

The thing with those devices is that of course they automatically log when-ever you pass a toll gate. So there is a record of the movements of that device (and in effect an individual vehicle). I wouldn't be surprised if law enforcement uses it to track smugglers (they typically cross the border multiple times a day).

Re:How do you not see such a device... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433876)

Tracking a toll tag is an inherent requirement of its use as a toll tag. Otherwise they wouldn't know how to bill you, would they?

On the other hand, voice surveillance is not in any way related to a sensible mode of operation for a toll tag. So this really isn't very comparable.

Re:How do you not see such a device... (2)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 3 years ago | (#36434066)

You don't have to track prepaid tags that simply transmit tokens until they run out of tokens -- you just keep track which tokens you have heard and only accept new ones. Tokens then may be randomly loaded when payment is made, without any need for association with any particular person or vehicle.

Re:How do you not see such a device... (1)

Combatso (1793216) | more than 3 years ago | (#36434570)

our ETR here in ontario. (eletronic toll route) snaps a photo of the license plate, and bills you.. If you want to track vehicles crossing the border, you dont need any electronics in the car.. you just need a database of tag #'s. I know when I cross the border they already know how long I was out of the country,.

Re:How do you not see such a device... (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#36432918)

do you live in a state with electronic tolling? how do you not see the the device you are required to have fastened to your windshield if you wish to use automatic toll paying? this is similar thing, a "border card" required for vehicles dual licensed in mainland / hong kong

On the consequences of tampering with those device (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 3 years ago | (#36432864)

In China, I'd think that you'd be getting off very lightly if you were charged with tampering those.

Re:On the consequences of tampering with those dev (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433232)

In China, it's quite common for people to tamper with their license plates. Taping a CD over them (to blind cameras) is popular. Swapping your plates for forged military / police plates is also done, but a little riskier - some farmer got sentenced to death for "impersonating the military" - driving with military plates to avoid toll booths, but the sentence was overturned and I think the judge got sacked.

Heavy charges are reserved for property crimes, drug related crimes, violent crimes, and anything *remotely* resembling treason. Tamper with the device would probably be ignored. Publishing anything about it ... not so clever. Notice how all the identifiable interviewees are Hong Kongers?

The article is kind of pathetic (5, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 3 years ago | (#36432950)

Those who RTFA can read this:

Apple Daily says they took the device to a university professor and a private investigator, both of whom attested to the espionage potential of the units.

or this:

An Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at City University of Hong Kong, Zheng Liming, took apart one of the devices and confirmed that it can listen in on conversations

and see a photo in which a hole in the plastic shell is marked "cavity for receiving sound" (a microphone would have been more convincing), two quartz crystals (the likes of which can be found in almost every modern electronic devices) marked "generate carrier frequency for radio transmission" and a nondescript chip that "turns voice signals into digital information".

You know what? I think I'll take a photo of my cellphone's innards, photoshop conveniently spy-sounding labels into the photo, bring my cellphone to a university professor who will testify that my device has a microphone, a crystal, an antenna and a processor that definitely has the potential to turn it into spying device then write an article about it.

Some journalism...

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36432976)

Some journalism...

It might be helpful to add that, while the factual integrity of the article's probably better than a mainland China paper under tight control of the government, the Epoch Time is one of the most consistently anti-PRC media outlets. As a result, just as we do for Fox News or MSNBC, take everything with at least a grain of salt.

Re:Well-researched piece in a mass market tabloid (1)

buntsai (1195905) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433914)

Epoch times is dodgy but the original [googleusercontent.com] is from Apple Daily, the second highest circulation (300,000 in a city of 7 million) newspaper in Hong Kong. It is not particularly pro-Falun Gong. It has strongly pro-democracy (HK doesn't have much of that), pro-free market, pro working class, with the usual Hong Kong mix of high minded analysis, original poetry and literature, lurid celebrity coverage, and serialized softcore porn!

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (1)

mustPushCart (1871520) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433102)

Um, except that it wasn't your cellphone. It was a device that is installed for 'inspection and "quarantine"' reasons (secondary quotes because quarantine doesn't make sense in almost any context) by a government agency and does not seem to have any business even being there let alone containing voice to digital and a radio transmission circuits.

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36434416)

Um, except that it wasn't your cellphone. It was a device that is installed for 'inspection and "quarantine"' reasons (secondary quotes because quarantine doesn't make sense in almost any context) by a government agency and does not seem to have any business even being there let alone containing voice to digital and a radio transmission circuits.

Most people sit inside their cars, not strapped to the bumper where the microphone is. Exactly what use is an audio recording filled with the sound of engine revving, tires on pavement, and people swearing and honking their horns?

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433108)

It is taped to the windshield. It does not seem to have any (external) power supply. How could such a device be able to transmit a serious quantity of data, over a distance of 20 km, with mountains in between? Hong Kong may be small but it's hilly, with peaks of almost 1000m tall. From most parts of this 20km radius there is no line of sight to Shenzhen - all mountains in the way, except for the north-western part of Hong Kong which is mostly protected wetland. Such transmission if at all possible takes a significant amount of power, a battery that fit in there would run out in hours or less. On these points alone I'd call this story total nonsense.

They have been installed since 1997 - that means most are in place for some four years now. The only way to keep it working is if it's a passive device, using external radio sources as their power source, as is typical for devices used for automatic toll payment and similar purposes.

And by the way, Apple Daily is a tabloid.

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433286)

It's got batteries... On a motorized vehicle... That has registry plates indicating it would likely move between hong-kong and china...

I'm sorry if you can't figure out how this would work, but don't go around assuming it's impossible... Rather start with the assumption that you lack intelligence instead.

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (2)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433368)

It is taped to the windshield. It does not seem to have any (external) power supply. How could such a device be able to transmit a serious quantity of data, over a distance of 20 km, with mountains in between? Hong Kong may be small but it's hilly, with peaks of almost 1000m tall. From most parts of this 20km radius there is no line of sight to Shenzhen - all mountains in the way, except for the north-western part of Hong Kong which is mostly protected wetland. Such transmission if at all possible takes a significant amount of power, a battery that fit in there would run out in hours or less. On these points alone I'd call this story total nonsense.

Last time I checked the Chinese had no problems setting up receivers in Hong Kong, well, less than before it became Chinese territory anyway! So I'll have to call nonsense to your nonsense.

They have been installed since 1997 - that means most are in place for some four years now. The only way to keep it working is if it's a passive device, using external radio sources as their power source, as is typical for devices used for automatic toll payment and similar purposes.

Please link to the source of your information? And why would a device the size of a mobile phone have to be passive? It's not like they haven't always been an obvious electronic device.

I was in Hong Kong three years ago and what you are saying was bullshit then. The licenses are good for ten years - but the displayed permits are updated every year. It's possible that these weren't installed in all cars, tricycles (yes), motorcycles, buses, and trucks. There's two main types of cars with a dual license - wealthy people - and not wealthy people. Most foreigners hire drivers - the drivers are not wealthy and the license allows up to three drivers (they tend to run 24/7 back and forth across the border) - they're also the type of vehicles (trucks also) used for smuggling and both instances would be attractive spying targets. As stated earlier I reckon they'd hear the incriminating stuff as the vehicle approaches the checkpoint.

A cavity microphone would make sense for these devices as it would allow cheap noise cancelling - similar setup to mobile phones.

In addition to the dual license a two-way permit is required for every occupant - and they only last from a week to a year (depending on circumstance) - so I wouldn't be surprised if the vehicle licences have similar terms. Oh, and the one time we were asked to leave the vehicle to get our papers checked in the office - they took the permit with us. I'm wondering now if they might of replaced the battery at the same time.

Next time you're in the Guangdong Public Service Bureau applying for your 2-way pass (it's where the vehicle passes come from too) maybe fire up your scanner.

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433464)

Active broadcasting a signal takes a lot of power. A typical mobile phone can last maybe 10-12 hours on a charge, when talking. Up to two weeks standby. For these devices well let's be generous, make it double the time, that's 24 hours of broadcasting signals. The rest of the year: no battery. And I didn't see a battery on the photos.

As I said, and what you handily ignored: no visible power source on any of the photos. An external power source is a necessity for this kind of broadcast if it has to last a whole year - broadcasting over any significant distance takes a lot of power. The devices are small, batteries if any are in place necessarily are small too.

Next is the practical problem of receiving the individual signals. You would likely need a different frequency for each one, or active frequency scanning by the device to find a free channel, as otherwise they start interfering with each other. There are a few thousand out there. And how come no-one has ever detected such a signal, if it exists, over the last four years? There are plenty of radio amateurs in this world, scanning all bandwidths allocated or not, to see if there are any interesting signals to be heard.

And about receivers on this side of the border: it's possible. However that's not the claim made in the article, which claims that the receiver is in Shenzhen and that they can listen over a 20-km range into Hong Kong. That's the fact I'm disputing here. I'd be very interested how ANYONE could have a reliable direct radio communication with Shenzhen from the roads in Sha Tin, or worse: Tsuen Wan. The latter has Tai Mo Shan in the way.

Mind you I'm not saying it can not be done, at all. I'm just saying that it absolutely can not be done (for several independent reasons) the way it's presented in the article.

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433528)

And I didn't see a battery on the photos.

That'll be the three cylinders covered in blue plastic taking up most of the space within the casing. At a guess, anyway.

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (4, Informative)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433832)

Active broadcasting a signal takes a lot of power. A typical mobile phone can last maybe 10-12 hours on a charge, when talking. Up to two weeks standby. For these devices well let's be generous, make it double the time, that's 24 hours of broadcasting signals. The rest of the year: no battery. And I didn't see a battery on the photos.

What have you been smoking? There is only one photo in TFA linked article. Look again - see the blue shrink wrapped batteries? [theepochtimes.com] Still no? How about now? [youtube.com]

The device will not fit in your shirt pocket - it's a little larger than an iPhone (I and other posters have seen these devices). As for your proof - again, what the fuck have you been smoking? A phone and this device have little in common when it comes to power consumption (see if you can work out why). Hint - I can buy devices on the open market that will transmit an audio signal for more 12 months - and they will fit in my pocket. No nuclear power pack involved. Don't go basing you idea of surveillance technology on what the FBI leaves attached to the bottom of Arab students cars - you can bet the Chinese have access to far more sophisticated devices than I can buy.

The rest of your screed is pure castles in the air - try getting off the sofa and visiting the world. China == Hong Kong - lip-service is the only difference between one side of the border and the other. The speculated range of the devices is just that. Speculated. As for signal interception - really, are you fucking serious? Do you hear mobile telephone calls on your transistor? (and that's a GHz crystal in the photo you can't see - just under the battery pack that doesn't exist).

Consider it - every insightful argument you've come up with is wrong - you can't see the obvious, and you can't even count up to two properly. And no, advertisements don't count as pictures. But hey - don't let your ignorance to stop from being an expert in Chinese spying devices, it never stopped you from making laughably clueless statements about the nature of emails or programming.

A dollar gets me ten you've got some weasely denial.

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433962)

Please put of your tinfoil hat and stop ignoring what I'm actually writing.

First of all, I am a Hong Kong permanent resident. And still live there.

Secondly: what is really in that blue shrink wrap? May be batteries indeed. I can't see: it's shrink wrapped.

Now let's look at the numbers that I "can not add up" and you don't even bother to look at. So let's say that blue thing is a battery. My half-year old phone can pack 5.6 Wh in it's battery, it looks like my battery is roughly half the size of that blue package. Let's say this device has twice that power: 10.6 Wh. It's automatically transmitting all conversations for a year, without running out of battery. Say it has to handle 2 hours of conversation a day, that makes 730 hours of active broadcasting a year. The battery has to handle that. This allows for 14.5 mW of allowed power consumption when actively broadcasting - and nothing left for anything else (like standby, or audio encoding). And people that use their vehicle more than two hours a day (e.g. smugglers) have even less power to broadcast their conversations. I don't know much about broadcasting, but I do know that on 14.5 mW you're no way going to get far. Even if you again double the battery size, it's not going to work well. Broadcast simply needs a certain amount of power, and that's a lot of power when you're talking about small battery powered stuff, no matter how you look at it. Audio signals are nothing compared to radio signals when it comes to power needs.

In comparison, mobile phones - also using the GHz range - use 500-1000 mW of transmit power. WiFi is in the same power range - and doing just a couple hundred meters or so, with ideal line of sight. So even if this is a battery and it is a transmitter, you may broadcast over meters. Which incidentally is just what you need for a toll pass to work.

Then who was talking about listening on transistor radios? Not me. I said scanners - you know those devices that can, amongst others, pick up emergency radio bands, aircraft radio, mobile phone signals, etc. Those receivers are available in basically any range you want.

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (1)

kyle5t (1479639) | more than 3 years ago | (#36434082)

Since both of you seem to be in Hong Kong, how about one of you get hold of one of these and post some better photos. Then we could put this to rest for good.

The photos are so bad it is hard to tell, but I'm leaning toward this story being true. Mainly because of that base-loaded whip antenna. The odd shaped PCB on the left seems to be the actual RFID component (with a battery assist). You can make out what looks like a PCB trace antenna toward the bottom (in sort of a G shape), and, if that's indeed what it is, you have to wonder why this device needs two antennas.

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36434434)

Consider the sources:
Epoch times, the folks who translated these articles, are the publishing arm of the Fai Lung Gung. Their journalism is at best, suspect.
Apple Daily is and has always been an anti China rag. It's a pretty entertaining rag, but no one takes it seriously.

As per the smuggler quote, a) it's an anonymous quote. b) The investigative abilities of the Hong Kong and Chinese police are immense. Pre 1997, it use to be rumored that the Chief of Police in Hong Kong would have a very large time table of leads pertaining to smuggling operations to and fro the border. Because of limitations of resources, he'd have to pick which folks to go after. Most of this information seems to come from under cover agents and good ol' police work. Now that Hong Kong and Quangzhou police all play for the same team, folks are a phone call away. c) They've been working together to stop smuggling for years, at least as a means to curtail triad operations. The uncanny busts might just be the results of competence.

This article is at best, fishy to me for the following reason:

It is weird for a smuggler to come out and say that it is a bug. It is weird for anyone to come out and talk to the press, especially someone who is part of organized crime. If they figured out that it is a bug, then why tell folks about it. Why give other smugglers the fruits of their work and human rights activists for that matter something to cry about? So the Chinese government will stop using the device because of public outcry? It's not like China and Hong Kong lack for reverse engineers. The smart way to play the game would be to figure out what it broadcasts on, when it does and to either not talk about anything important when it does, or just simply have the discipline to not talk in the car. Or turn on very loud music for that matter. Why give it away that you have figured it out? For that matter, there are simply thousands of cars to listen in on that cross the border, each way, every day. The only way they know which to listen in on is police work. And for that matter, they don't even have to listen in to flag it to be searched. Why then the extra step?

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (1)

Fzz (153115) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433994)

If there are 20,000 of these devices, they wouldn't have the bandwidth for all of them to be transmitting simultaneously. But that would be a stupid design anyway - it's not how you'd build such a device.

What you'd do is include an RFID-style receiver. You'd interrogate this from some roadside equipment (such as you'd find at tollbooths or on the approach to customs, or anywhere interesting things happen). The receiver responds with its ID, and if they want to enable that particular transmitter, they'd send back the enabling code. It would only then switch on and transmit for some limited time period.

In this way they'd be able to manage spectrum effectively, have the batteries last for years, and capture all the interesting and incriminating snippets of information as a car approaches customs.

Technically, all this is quite feasible - in fact it's really very easy with off-the-shelf technology. Whether this is what they actually did I can only speculate, but it's what I'd have built if I was tasked to do this (I wasn't, I should add).

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36434228)

Or, it's just the guts of a cheap mobile phone. It's only installed on the occasional "high risk" targets (frequent border crossers), and immediately swapped as they pass customs. Everyone with a bug gets "inspected", and the "inspected" cars get their bugs serviced or swapped for a non-bugged plate.

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (1)

francium de neobie (590783) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433272)

You need to watch and understand the video of the report to understand its severity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGFsHhu7sJ0 [youtube.com]

The devices are supposed to be for identification purpose only - an RFID device can very well do that. So the fact that it needs a battery is already fishy - why use a more expensive device that needs more maintenance instead of cheap, readily available devices that need almost no maintenance?

The professor in question had actually disassembled the device in question, and it was the professor who pointed out the existence of microphone and voice ADC chip on the device - there's totally no need for such things for an identification tag that passes you through customs.

Re:The article is kind of pathetic (1)

aeoo (568706) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433902)

You know what? I think I'll take a photo of my cellphone's innards, photoshop conveniently spy-sounding labels into the photo, bring my cellphone to a university professor who will testify that my device has a microphone, a crystal, an antenna and a processor that definitely has the potential to turn it into spying device then write an article about it.

Except everything you are saying here is not nearly as absurd and ridiculous as you hope it would be.

The USA is engaged in warrantless spying to such an extent, that it's not even something targeted, but rather, it's a data mining operation of the highest order. And yes, cell phone data is mined, you can be sure of it. So yes, your cell phone is in all likelihood spying on you as we speak. It's spying on you for the benefit of the government and also for the benefit of the corporations.

Read this and think again about your cell phone:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/05/23/110523fa_fact_mayer [newyorker.com]

xxx (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36432964)

The NFL jerseys [leaguejerseystore.com] And MLB jerseys [leaguejerseystore.com] what does an NBA jerseys [leaguejerseystore.com] Card can help you play? NHL jerseys [leaguejerseystore.com] grants you egereggre hundreds . and latest NFL Football Jerseys [leaguejerseystore.com] brands inside the fashion cheap NFL jerseys [leaguejerseystore.com] and football jerseys [leaguejerseystore.com] ,Hockey Jerseys [leaguejerseystore.com] and Basketball Jerseys [leaguejerseystore.com] ,Baseball Jerseys [leaguejerseystore.com] wish to come up .If you ever critically Christian Louboutin [louboutinuksale.org.uk] wish to come up with a desire Louboutin [louboutinuksale.org.uk] to the youngsters then, christian louboutin uk [louboutinuksale.org.uk] you'll find degree of more effective methods christian louboutin shoes [louboutinuksale.org.uk] to accomplish so louboutin shoes [louboutinuksale.org.uk] rather than provide christian louboutin sale [louboutinuksale.org.uk] outside hang on units to make sure that that they louboutin sale [louboutinuksale.org.uk] possess a playground of their individual garden.The christian louboutin shoes Christian Louboutin Boots [louboutinuksale.org.uk] is during actuality a swing that provides Jimmy Choo [louboutinuksale.org.uk] a exceptional destination.

maybe, maybe not. (4, Insightful)

mark_elf (2009518) | more than 3 years ago | (#36432968)

We have a couple of experts saying it certainly could be a bug. But nobody said they found the freq it was transmitting on and got feedback from it. Kinda flimsy evidence so far.

Re:maybe, maybe not. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#36434460)

We have a couple of experts saying it certainly could be a bug. But nobody said they found the freq it was transmitting on and got feedback from it. Kinda flimsy evidence so far.

I agree, probably need more evidence, but if I were to suspect any country (or Government) in the world of doing this, it would be China, based on everything else they've done to monitor, censor, and control.

Is this really that much different... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433006)

...than the FBI using GPS tracking devices without a warrant?

  (remember this is the same organization that brought us COINTELPRO)

Apply Daily (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433036)

Apple Daily isn't a serious newspaper here. It's kind of like CNN, except it jokes about small things.

what's the difference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433096)

between a border passing electronic card and an eavesdropping device...?
I don't see a mic in there. Without one, it might as well be what it is claimed to be.

How does the battery get recharged? I would imagine that to send "voice signals" continuously through a city (and not line-of-sight) upto 20 kms away requires some power.
Can you _actually_ eavesdrop off a mic on the windscreen of a running car?

Those pesky Chinese (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433114)

What do these devices do? Transmit voice data 24/7? Where are the receivers? How do they manage their frequencies and their energy consumption? Perhaps they record 24/7 and transmit everything in a few seconds while the car is at a border checkpoint? I want their technology, whatever it is, in my cell phone right now dammit!

the source... (5, Informative)

mathfeel (937008) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433176)

I clicked the link and was about to RTFA, then I spotted that it's from "The Epoch Time" referencing an article from "The Apple Daily". I am from HK and those are not two news sources that I trust. The first is a media front for the Fa Lun Gong, which as much as I dislike communism, I have a worse distaste for a money sucking "religious" cult. The latter is a sensationalist tabloid paper. It is famous for its yellow journalism. If you want a report on fact, that's not it.

Re:the source... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36434358)

The statement "as much as I dislike communism" made me ignore any other biased thing you had to say.

Do the clock strike 13 on cold April days in China (0)

zbobet2012 (1025836) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433188)

Re:Do the clock strike 13 on cold April days in Ch (1)

zbobet2012 (1025836) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433266)

Annoyingly enough slashdot doesn't let me put this in as a Chinese phrase:

Just in Hong Kong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433200)

I was just in Hong Kong for three days. I noticed at least one or two clearly electronic devices on the dashboard. One was a thing that the driver would "pat down" and that would prsumably start the fare. I can easily imagine a lisenting device being contained in this. Another didn't seem to have a purpose and was just there.

Re:Just in Hong Kong (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433386)

I was just in Hong Kong for three days. I noticed at least one or two clearly electronic devices on the dashboard. One was a thing that the driver would "pat down" and that would presumably start the fare. I can easily imagine a listening device being contained in this. Another didn't seem to have a purpose and was just there.

Thank you - it was commonly believed when I was there (3 years back) that they were tracking devices - I just never considered they recorded or transmitted conversation.

Attacks the Hong Kong terrorist needs the world (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433306)

Dear all:

Help! Murder, Chinese useing Brain Voice Read / Write Machine Spy Hong Kong people, 100% true story, please e-mail the world people and send 1 e-mail Hong Kong government, 1*10*100*1000....., thank my dear Internet friend.

1. installs the small machine in the Hong Kong people car ----- installs is extremely easy, not to have the voice to be troublesome, the victim did not feel.

2. Input/output voice ----- input/output the voice extremely clearly, in the mountain, the sewer, the elevator, input - output voice is extremely clear, does not use the dry battery.

3. Murder Hong Kong people ----- terrorists is the Hong Kong police over 50, murder many Hong Kong people over 3 years.

Enough HK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433390)

Whatever your opinion about the whole thing one thing is certain: Hong Kong needs to either say "we are not china" or stop bitching. I am sick of the whining from HK on a near daily basis "china this" "china that" "bitch bitch bitch" They need to either stand up and say we are not part of China or shut up!

Re:Enough HK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433988)

I believe you are just to stupid to understand the situation with China and Hongkong. They can not say what you are asking them. So shut up, idiot.

Rubbish (0)

kobotronic (240246) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433392)

In none of the worthless tabloid reporting on this story has anyone produced evidence that would satisfy any electronics engineer that this would be a listening device. Why is this a slashdot story before any technical angle with meat on it has materialized?

There is no evidence of an audio processing circuit of any kind - no microphone has been discovered and none is evident in the design, which is so similar to smart pass devices used everywhere for road pricing that I will simply assume it is a common type that you could presumably find anywhere in the world. Many of these road pricing devices have battery-powered signal amplifiers both for the receiver and transmitter, which increases signal reach beyond what would be attainable to a passive RFID type tag from the overhead antenna.

There is also powered transaction logic in these types of devices which are often designed to make a sound when your account is charged. In some models such as the ones used in Singapore there is also a smart card reader for account transactions.

If in fact there is an apparently acoustic aperture in the device shell, I'd wager that a beeper is the principal application. Tooling for injection molded shells is expensive, and if there is any way to re-use an existing type then that is preferred - especially for simple utilitarian things such as these.

I remember a similar non-story from several years ago when some idiot took pictures of the power supply of his cable decoder and deduced by idiot logic that a capacitor was a microphone and Comcast was spying on him. This story is exactly as idiotic.

Unsettling (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433436)

I start to find it quite troubling how many anti chinese articles start to appear on slashdot, is this site not meant to target people that dont fall that easy for such apparent fear mongering and paranoia?
I cannot judge that from US perspective, but from an outside viewpoint its almost looking like a propaganda machine starting. Is the US preparing for another conflict or something ?

Re:Unsettling (0)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433620)

Yeah, now combine:

"China source of hacking attempts on US" (no matter how dubious that is in terms of finding the actual SOURCE of the hack attempt rather than someone else acting through a random proxy)

with:

"Hacking could be an act of war" (no matter how stupid that is, because any half-decent military system with anything "useful" should be COMPLETELY inaccessible from the Internet).

GM Cars Starting 2014 Model Year (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36433762)

Starting in the 2014 model year, all GM cars will be equipped with a GSM modem that will upload realtime speed, location, and other telemetry data to the Department of Transportation for "statistical analysis" purposes.

I'd be weary of the source, it is the Apple Daily (4, Interesting)

carsonc (792247) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433784)

I'd be weary of the source as it is the Apple Daily. They are known for not being that reliable. I was on the cover a number of years ago, and they photoshopped my hair blond to make me look more white and miss quoted me. I was pissed but then everybody told me that everybody knows that's what they do. C'est la vie. I'll wait till I hear it from a different paper.

"No charge, Sir" (1, Interesting)

davide marney (231845) | more than 3 years ago | (#36433800)

The article notes that the Chinese government has been installing these devices at no charge since 2007. Well, there's your biggest reason to be suspicious. What kind of respectable government would actually buy _you_ something? In the US, drivers have to buy their own RFID transponders just for the privilege of being able to pay tolls electronically. In China, one would expect to not only pay for the transponder, but slip some money under the table at the same time, no?

Re:"No charge, Sir" (3, Informative)

mrsam (12205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36434268)

In the US, drivers have to buy their own RFID transponders just for the privilege of being able to pay tolls electronically.

Not necessarily. I did not pay for my EZ-Pass transponder. At least in New York and New Jersey, two of the states that use the EZ-Pass transponder that I can vouch from personal experience, the transponder is given to you free if you have the tolls billed automatically to your credit card.

Which is, pretty much, is the only practical approach. If you take the other option of getting a prepaid transponder, they'll charge you for it. But, having to constantly prepay is just not worth the hassle, in my opinion. It's much more convenient to have the agency automatically bill you. With the tolls being as high as they are, you'll be spending all your time adding money to the account. It's just not worth it.

There are some states in the EZ-Pass system that charge for transponders. But you do not have to buy a transponder from your state's agency. New York will give EZ-Pass to any state's resident. If your state's EZ-Pass gives discounts on some in-state tolls, you won't get them from New York though.

Re:"No charge, Sir" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36434312)

My RDID tag came free when I preloaded $20 into the account. (Texas).

My 50 cents... (2)

Omniskio (1153619) | more than 3 years ago | (#36434070)

. . . is that, no matter the source, no matter the content, no matter its significance, the Wu Mao Dang will spun it round, round, baby, right round. . . You're being harmonized. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/50_Cent_Party [wikipedia.org]

OnStar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36434206)

OnStar?

Imagine ... (1)

hotfireball (948064) | more than 3 years ago | (#36434440)

Imagine they're installed in ANY product they ship. :-)
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>