×

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!

London Bans Recycling Bins That Track Phones

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the no-trash-talking dept.

Privacy 179

judgecorp writes "In a swift response to a media storm, the City of London has closed down a trial of recycling bins which track the phones of pedestrians. Renew provides recycling bins funded by digital advertising, and has been told to stop a trial where bins tracked phones. Although the CEO of Renew claims there was no intention to breach privacy, his own marketing material says otherwise."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

179 comments

Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (5, Insightful)

sinij (911942) | about 8 months ago | (#44543253)

Removing bins will not fix underlying protocol implementation problem. This has to be treated as any other vulnerability and patched, so it is not possible.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543419)

It is astonishing how few people seem to understand that.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#44543535)

It is astonishing how few people seem to understand that.

Rather like war-driving in reverse. How times change.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (2)

mcrbids (148650) | about 8 months ago | (#44543489)

Wow. Talk about ignorance aloud. And on Slashdot!

The "issue" to be addressed is the need for a way to uniquely identify a device as distinct from other devices. This is accomplished by the use of a number called a MAC address. Because it uniquely identifies a device, it can be used to (gasp!) uniquely identify a device.

That's what Renew (the company in question with the "smart bins") was doing... logging MAC addresses announced by wifi cards as they try to moderate a wifi connection.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543541)

And there is no reason a MAC address should not randomize itself in between network connections.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (2)

bandy (99800) | about 8 months ago | (#44543635)

And if two devices randomize to the same MAC? That Would Be Bad.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543711)

only for one device that would then re randomize itself and it would be fine. so what maybe a half a second of non service? maybe a minute? not bad if you ask me.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (4, Informative)

cusco (717999) | about 8 months ago | (#44543763)

IIRC, the address space available for MAC addresses allows something like 1000 devices for each square foot of land area on Earth, so there isn't much chance of collision. Having said that, AC is wrong. DHCP reservations (used on many, many networks for hardware that needs to maintain the same IP address) require MAC addresses that do not change. Many manufacturers have sniffer programs that are needed to do installations and service on their hardware, which sniff the set of MAC addresses assigned to their company. There are lots of other reasons that MAC addresses are linked to a piece of hardware.

The issue here isn't that MAC addresses are unique, it's that users aren't bright enough or are too lazy to turn off wi-fi detection when they're not using it.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#44543995)

Those are valid concerns. Perhaps turn off the randomization when connecting to designated APs but use it for anonymous public wifi?

Or just use it for probe requests but not when actually connecting.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

bandy (99800) | about 8 months ago | (#44543999)

The issue here isn't that MAC addresses are unique, it's that users aren't bright enough or are too lazy to turn off wi-fi detection when they're not using it.

Exactly. As to the "large" address space - it's large if the random-number generator is actually random and has been seeded with a unique value. We've seen lots of bugs and exploits show up because those two conditions were not met.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#44543771)

The chances of that happening are VERY small. And would only be detrimental if both connected to the same WAP at the same time. Even then it would just lock up and drop the connection most likely. I do change the mac address on my wireless devices every couple of weeks, but not for every connection attempt... but if there were software that did it for me I'd definitely take advantage of that.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

bandy (99800) | about 8 months ago | (#44543971)

"Very small" - how many problems have we seen where the RNG used hasn't been adequate or was seeded with the same value across multiple devices?

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

Carewolf (581105) | about 8 months ago | (#44544337)

That can already happen. MAC addresses are not guaranteed unique. It is extremely unlikely to happen but it can.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

aristotle-dude (626586) | about 8 months ago | (#44543831)

And there is no reason a MAC address should not randomize itself in between network connections.

No reason other than that the MAC address exists to uniquely identify the device connecting to the network. You seem to have missed the point of the MAC address. Some networks lock down access by MAC address as it is supposed to identify specific devices.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (3, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#44544075)

And there is no reason a MAC address should not randomize itself in between network connections.

No reason other than that the MAC address exists to uniquely identify the device connecting to the network. You seem to have missed the point of the MAC address. Some networks lock down access by MAC address as it is supposed to identify specific devices.

Your phone knows its real Mac, and the mac of the routers it has connected to before.
All it need do is use the same mac for any router it has seen before, or use its REAL mac when you request
a connection to any router.

Routers you don't CHOOSE TO connect to, have no valid reason to know your mac.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#44544041)

And there is no reason a MAC address should not randomize itself in between network connections.

Probably would require a bit more smarts than that. Such as the randomization would be turned off when the device
sees a beacon from a known router. e.g. The device would see the router's mac, and it it is one it had connected to previously
it would use the same mac address it did upon first connection.

This solves problems with mac-address filtering that some people use as an ill-conceived attempt at wifi security [zdnet.com].

Also DHCP servers use mac addresses to hand out the same IP addresses, upon re-connection which saves a lot of IP churning
just because your phone changed its mac in the middle of a connection. Some routers use IP reservations as well.

Other than that this seems to be a reasonable

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (2)

compro01 (777531) | about 8 months ago | (#44543543)

And what need is there to announce the MAC address when not connected to anything?

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#44543795)

That's the point, the bins were offering up a fake WAP in order to get the devices MAC address when they tried to connect. If you have Wifi off, then this wouldn't happen. But most carriers default their phones to auto-connect to open WIFI to save themselves bandwidth.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 8 months ago | (#44543921)

But most carriers default their phones to auto-connect to open WIFI to save themselves bandwidth.

I'm thinking that must be a British thing. My GS3 (on Virgin/Bell) in Canada doesn't autoconnect to anything WiFi unless you've previously explicitly connected to a given network and AFAICT, there's no option to even make it do so.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44544051)

But most carriers default their phones to auto-connect to open WIFI to save themselves bandwidth.

I'm thinking that must be a British thing. My GS3 (on Virgin/Bell) in Canada doesn't autoconnect to anything WiFi unless you've previously explicitly connected to a given network and AFAICT, there's no option to even make it do so.

Nope - my phone alerts me that are networks nearby, but doesn't connect until I explicitly tell it to. From what was said in the office today, I now know that applies to a large range of devices and all carriers I've head of. No valid reason to hand over the MAC address until I say connect surely?

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (3, Insightful)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 8 months ago | (#44543585)

Here's the problem:

If the user doesn't say "I want to connect to 'Trash can Wi-Fi'", why should the phone decide on its own to connect to 'Trash can Wi-Fi' without asking?

If the phone doesn't (stupidly) try to connect to any open network it sees, it doesn't broadcast its MAC address whenever some dubious access point asks for it.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (2)

Carewolf (581105) | about 8 months ago | (#44543709)

If you have set up the phone to connect to a hidden SSID, then it will broadcast it MAC (and the hidden SSID) all the time asking if it is there.

It can also prompt for nearby access points instead of waiting for them to announce themselves, this also broadcasts their MAC.

The first is easy to solve (don't use hidden networks ever). The second one can be a bit of a compatibility issue.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#44544021)

It should be able to listen passively unless you tell it you want to connect. Unfortunately, most aren't set up for that.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 8 months ago | (#44543751)

The phone don't connect, it just announces the MAC address in the request when it's looking for a valid access point. You only need devices that can listen, they don't have to talk back to the phone.

It's a low level protocol issue. It's hard to identify a person knowing the MAC address, but if you find a phone or know the MAC address of a specific phone you can see where it has been.

So far we know that someone has used this with the intent for commercial interest, but realize that this can as well be the top of an iceberg where you have several other users of this. From the harmless snooping to create an understanding of movement patterns of people to the tracking of a certain individual on a level similar to what you can see in "Enemy of the State".

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#44544077)

It's not hard to connect name and MAC address with a bit of data mining. For example if the POS terminals see MAC X every time John Q makes a purchase, then MAC X is John Q.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44544283)

So perhaps it is time to update the underlying protocol.

Right now:
Server: Hello, I am Bob the Server, announcing my presence to the world, please connect to me! My MAC is DE:AD:BE:EF:FE:ED.
Client: Hello Bob at DE:AD:BE:EF:FE:ED. Let's talk. I'm DE:AF:CA:FE:BA:BE
Server: Cool. Let's connect... or not. Your choice, I have your MAC anyway. Hey, weren't you here yesterday?

Change this to
Server: Hello, I am Bob the Server, announcing my presence to the world, please connect to me! My MAC is DE:AD:BE:EF:FE:ED.
Client: Hello Bob, I may wish to connect to you. My temporary and randomized MAC is FE:ED:BA:BE:BE:EF
Server: Hey FE:ED:BA:BE:BE:EF. What's up? I don't recognize you. need a password to let you in! ...
Client: Let's hook up! My password is Swordfish.
Server: Correct! Come on in!
Client: Cool. My real MAC is DE:AF:CA:FE:BA:BE; forget that other one.
                            or
Client: Nevermind. You were shouting loudly so I couldn't help but look. Bye!

E.g., clients only offer a randomized and non-identifying MAC until a full connection is made. Assuming a large enough pool (we might need to go bigger than the current 48-bits used by MACs currently), collisions should be infinitesimal. Once the connection is made the real MAC is provided, preferably behind a password and encryption.

Would that work to minimize tracking? All the server would see is that /somebody/ tried to connect to it as a response to it announcing its presence to the world, but barring a manual connection it ends up with just a randomized string of hexadecimal digits that are unlikely to be repeated anytime again within the lifetime of the universe. E.g., something useless for identifying a user.

A change like that should be easy to implement, right after we switch 100% to IPv6 ;-)

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

afidel (530433) | about 8 months ago | (#44543767)

Yep, it's one of the most irritating things about my Android phone, even after I explicitly turn off WiFi I still get popups about available wireless networks, why is the damn phone powering a radio I told it to turn off? I'm not sure if it's trying to connect to those detected networks without my ok but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if it was since it failed to listen to me in the first place.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 8 months ago | (#44544235)

I've never seen that behavior with the Evo 4G or HTC One. If wifi is off, the radio is off (as far as I can tell). I was looking at the comments wondering why people are walking around with wifi enabled, I don't see any point in doing that. It's actually kind of stupid, you're draining the battery and exposing yourself to whatever vulnerabilities would use wifi.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#44544259)

Yep, it's one of the most irritating things about my Android phone, even after I explicitly turn off WiFi I still get popups about available wireless networks, why is the damn phone powering a radio I told it to turn off? I'm not sure if it's trying to connect to those detected networks without my ok but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if it was since it failed to listen to me in the first place.

Pictures or it didn't happen. Not on Android, and not on any cell phone. Off means off.

Turning off wifi powers down the wifi, and down means off.
You can still get prompts for bluetooth.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

afidel (530433) | about 8 months ago | (#44544399)

No pics necessary, it's in the source check out this [androidpolice.com] link. My phone does the same thing but unlike under 4.3 there's no obvious way to turn it off without turning off all WiFi notifications.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#44543813)

Auto-connecting to open wifi is an option that's set to on by default by most carriers.

Re: Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543963)

No it isn't! My default Android setting from AT&T it's set to off in the USA by default.

Auto connecting to open WiFi is a horrible security risk. I'm sure no phones do this by default factory setting.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#44544301)

Auto-connecting to open wifi is an option that's set to on by default by most carriers.

Carriers have nothing to do with wifi. And further, you have to explicitly connect to each router the first time. No phone automatically connects to random open wifi routers unless you set it to. (There are apps that will attempt this for you).

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 8 months ago | (#44544431)

a) seeking a non-broadcast but known SSID
b) seeking a known SSID pre-emptively instead of waiting ofr the AP to broadcast
c) connecting to a known SSID in the vicinity

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543629)

You don't have to be a dick.

We don't need to permanently identify specific devices. We only need the device to be identified while using a given connection. You've never spoofed a MAC address? Ever? We only need a temporary identifier which is unique. Conflicts are unlikely and easily resolved.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

cusco (717999) | about 8 months ago | (#44543843)

And you don't have to be a moron. There are many reasons why MAC addresses are linked to a specific device, some of them are laid out in the initial RFC. You can play with your MAC if you want, but if my security cameras start changing MACs then their DHCP reservations aren't going to work any more and they'll drop offline. If my elevator interface changes MAC address then the manufacturer's sniffer program isn't going to be able to detect it and we'll have no way to connect to the thing for service. If that fancy new HVAC system doesn't have a dedicated MAC then I won't be able to telnet into the thing to set its initial IP address and port settings.

Sorry AC, your iToy isn't the only thing that networks exist to support. Some of us do real work on networks.

Re: Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44544005)

We're talking about phones here, not elevators or space shuttles. And default behavior, not mandatory behavior for everything everywhere at all times..

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

sinij (911942) | about 8 months ago | (#44544057)

I am curious if you are aware that others can and will try to connect to your elevator diagnostics or HVAC system? You are compromising your security by opening your infrastructure tot he Internet.

If not, then you shouldn't care about MACs, as long as they are static. Your isolated infrastructure network won't ever collide with Joe Shmoe smartphone, because there won't be any way to come into contact.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

cusco (717999) | about 8 months ago | (#44544223)

Of course they can, this is why you put security on those systems (that many of them are left with factory-default configs is a whole other issue that we in the industry need to deal with), and protect your network from the Great Wide World. I have worked with customers who DO connect to their security cameras, HVAC system, etc. with smart phones, those pieces of infrastructure normally aren't isolated from the rest of the network unless there is a specific reason to do so. If you have RAS access to your company's network you probably have access to most of its infrastructure, whether you know it or not.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

sinij (911942) | about 8 months ago | (#44543715)

There are multiple issues here:

a. MAC addresses being broadcast without any regard to who is listening. Even when not negotiating/partaking in a connection.
b. MAC address is static.

Compare above situation to banking. You have a bank account number, it uniquely identifies you but it is not transmitted unless you initiate transaction (and even then only on need-to-know basis) plus it can be changed at any time. Now imagine that instead of MAC these bins were skimming banking information (without intend to defraud), would you still be as relaxed about this?

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

icebike (68054) | about 8 months ago | (#44544377)

Mac addresses were originally designed to be static, but in the real world almost every smartphone uses software mac addresses.
Their nics are built to allow MAC changing. For Android there are any apps for that. [google.com]

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 8 months ago | (#44543769)

This is accomplished by the use of a number called a MAC address.

Easily defeated by spoofing. And don't give me that "but few know how to do it" nonsense. Its not difficult and people learn how to do things when they realize they need to do it. REAL ignorance is believing that using MAC addresses for anything involving ID or security is a good idea.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

sinij (911942) | about 8 months ago | (#44543939)

This is problematic on many levels. Just like with "desktop Linux", expecting technical competency for average user is unrealistic assumption. Masses will not spoof MACs, because they don't even know what it is or care to find out.

MAC is not used for security, but rather identification. It is your device's static identity where it can be easily mapped to owner's identity. The underlying issue isn't that some marketing scumbags collecting MACs, it is that once these MACs collected it is trivial to aggregate this information.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#44543943)

There's no reason for the devices to be broadcasting the mac when it is not in use. There''s also no reason it can't generate unique ids on demand and discard them when it is done talking. For example, it can take the time since last boot in milliseconds, hash it and XOR it with the actual MAC address setting the locally administered flag. Or, just don't send out probe requests unless the user has told it to look for new APs.

The issue is that people don't like being stalked every waking moment. The one-off solution is to ban this particular attempt. broader solution is to make the technique somewhere between difficult and impossible by changing the way the phones behave.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44544011)

Wow. Talk about ignorance aloud. And on Slashdot!

The "issue" to be addressed is the need for a way to uniquely identify a device as distinct from other devices. This is accomplished by the use of a number called a MAC address. Because it uniquely identifies a device, it can be used to (gasp!) uniquely identify a device.

That's what Renew (the company in question with the "smart bins") was doing... logging MAC addresses announced by wifi cards as they try to moderate a wifi connection.

Why does my wifi card have to give over info in order to know there's a network available? It doesn't try to connect - it just listens occasionally. No need for my MAC address to be given to any device for that surely?

The AP only needs to know my Unique ID when I actually want to 'speak' to it - not before. This is the behaviour that the GP wants patched.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543583)

You need to attack from several angles. Both physical security to increase the effort required to be an asshole, and laws that reduce the economic incentive by preventing reputable entities from doing business with them. Defense in depth. Make it both impossible and illegal.

That's true whether you're dealing with drugs, spam or privacy invasion.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (4, Interesting)

mspohr (589790) | about 8 months ago | (#44543589)

There is something I don't understand here.
If I have my WiFi turned on and it is set to automatically connect to "known" access points but not set to connect to random unknown access points, why would it broadcast my MAC?
I can understand that it will listen for a "known" access point and when it finds one, send the MAC to connect and that is fine.
However, why would it broadcast my MAC if it has no intention of connecting?

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 8 months ago | (#44544411)

It is seeking out known SSIDs, instead of waiting for the AP to broadcast. This is an otherwise reasonable action in certain situations, e.g. you have just turned on the device or just turned on wifi.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 8 months ago | (#44543591)

What do you mean it's "not possible?"

I would think simply re-generating a random MAC address each time you enable WiFi would work well enough.

Re:Removing bins will not fix underlying problem (1)

Molochi (555357) | about 8 months ago | (#44543595)

True, there aren't a lot of reasons for your phone's wifi to be spamming its MAC all the time, unless it is also configured to connect to any open AP in range. That itself is a BadIdeaTM without an autostarting VPN client.

Good call (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543263)

Tho I do hope they recycling part of that is still up even after they stop tracking phones.

Re:Good call (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#44543481)

Tho I do hope they recycling part of that is still up even after they stop tracking phones.

All the better reason to go around with your mobile phone turned off until you need to use it or wish to check messages.

"I see you post on /. Please look at all these cheesey t-shirts on ThinkGeek.com!"

Re:Good call (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 8 months ago | (#44543825)

All the better reason to go around with your mobile phone turned off until you need to use it or wish to check messages.

but then people couldn't call you? which is a key feature?

Re: Good call (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543701)

I hope the standard advertising keeps them going. I walk past them every day and they display live public transport information and the weather forecast, which is nice.

Tracking in the UK... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 8 months ago | (#44543271)

Given the level of tracking going on by the government in the UK, espescially London, if the spooks there are not already doing this themselves, they will be soon.

Re:Tracking in the UK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543355)

There's a difference between being tracked by a random company and a government body. At least the latter operates under the scrutiny of elected representatives.

Re:Tracking in the UK... (2)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about 8 months ago | (#44543375)

There's a difference between being tracked by a random company and a government body. At least the latter operates under the scrutiny of elected representatives.

Say what?!

Re:Tracking in the UK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543487)

What's on second.

Re:Tracking in the UK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543539)

Cornwallis, when will you accept that the government is just trying to do what's best for you? You really need to grow up.

Re:Tracking in the UK... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 8 months ago | (#44543599)

Indeed. Rather than our elected "representatives"* tracking us, they should be stopping the corporations from tracking us. At least the British seem to have representation... somewhat, I guess. There's way too much stalking in the world by both government and industry, and I'm disgusted by it.

* I'm American. My "representatives" only represent the corporations. If they represented the citizenry pot would be legal, since over half the population thinks the laws against it are stupid. [csmonitor.com]

Re:Tracking in the UK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543961)

As an American too I agree. but I think tracking should only be done to those Representatives that we "elected"

Re:Tracking in the UK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543439)

At least the latter operates under the scrutiny of elected representatives.

Yeah, sure they do.

Good troll.

Re:Tracking in the UK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543493)

+1 funny

Re:Tracking in the UK... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#44543647)

There's a difference between being tracked by a random company and a government body. At least the latter operates under the scrutiny of elected representatives.

Only in the House of Commons. You don't have much say after that, they pick the PM and the House of Lords is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates -- you never know what you will get (may contain nuts.)

The majority of Britons seem quite content to be under constant surveillance, at least when someone runs over their cat they'll know who owned the vehicle.

Re:Tracking in the UK... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 8 months ago | (#44543521)

Given the level of tracking going on by the government in the UK, espescially London, if the spooks there are not already doing this themselves, they will be soon.

It's a wonder your mobile isn't photographing where you are and what you are doing and adding that to the pool of publicly recorded video. Probably only a matter of time on that front.

"no-trash-talking" uh more of a "bin ban, banning bin bother"

Re:Tracking in the UK... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44544139)

Ive always worried about this, but then I think wait they are just going to get a bunch of blurry dark pictures of my pocket lint.

Exclusive Rights (2)

some old guy (674482) | about 8 months ago | (#44543277)

I should think that this is really just GCHQ exercising it's exclusive sovereign right to track everyone, everywhere, all the time.

The American way is more efficient: let business collect the data and then the government can demand to share it.

Re:Exclusive Rights (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#44543733)

Exactly; it's not 'we're putting a stop to this because it's wrong,' but rather 'we're putting a stop to this because you're not being sneaky enough, and that jeopardizes our own domestic spying operation.'

So, enough surveillance now? (1)

lgw (121541) | about 8 months ago | (#44543281)

Wow, London has decided that there is such a thing as too much surveillance? Maybe the pendulum has finally reached the end of the swing. Hey, a guy can hope.

No. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543393)

Here is what they want:

The voice came from an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface of the right-hand wall. Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely.

[snip]

In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a bluebottle, and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the police patrol, snooping into people's windows. The patrols did not matter, however. Only the Thought Police mattered.

The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen. It was safer, though, as he well knew, even a back can be revealing. A kilometre away the Ministry of Truth, his place of work, towered vast and white above the grimy landscape. This, he thought with a sort of vague distaste -- this was London, chief city of Airstrip One, itself the third most populous of the provinces of Oceania.

Unlike in Orwell's day, they have the means to track everyone, everywhere (at least in densely-populated areas). They have only to generate the will to do so and it will become a reality.

Scream "terrorist" enough times and that will generate the will.

Re:So, enough surveillance now? (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | about 8 months ago | (#44543461)

its the shock factor which did it, the Local Government had no idea this was happening and the suddenly read about it in national papers as being a completed and implemented system on their doorstep without them knowing anything about it.

i bet if they had been told about it in advanced they would have been happy to let the system run.

Re:So, enough surveillance now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44544469)

implemented system on their doorstep without them knowing anything about it.

Translation: "Where's our slice of the pie?"

Re:So, enough surveillance now? (1)

Feyshtey (1523799) | about 8 months ago | (#44543513)

Or maybe they found a very convenient non-government scapegoat they can point to and say, "Look what we're doing to protect you! Do you see now that what we do is really not that bad!?"

No prosecution? (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#44543287)

Why no criminal investigation, or at least massive fine under Data Protection laws?

Re:No prosecution? (3, Informative)

sinij (911942) | about 8 months ago | (#44543475)

>>>Why no criminal investigation, or at least massive fine?


Likely because phone is actively broadcasting information in the public space. If I go out shouting my Social Security number, others are not liable for overhearing it or even writing it down.

Re:No prosecution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543545)

That depends on how they write it down. If they purposely store many of those numbers knowing that they are considered to be private data they would probably run afoul of the data protection laws in many EU member states, regardless of how loud you are shouting.

Re:No prosecution? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 8 months ago | (#44543865)

actually they are...

and remember this is the UK where court orders have been for shutting people up about who dates who on the side - which you could know by just having been in the same bar with them.

Re:No prosecution? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44544237)

>>>Why no criminal investigation, or at least massive fine?

  Likely because phone is actively broadcasting information in the public space. If I go out shouting my Social Security number, others are not liable for overhearing it or even writing it down.

Overhearing it; No. Writing it down; they might well be liable - what reason do they have to write it down?

There's only 1 very tiny little step between your argument and the one that blames victims who dress too sexy for being raped.

Someone doing something daft is not a reason, nor justification, nor excuse for you doing something illegal or immoral.

Re:No prosecution? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#44543797)

Who's to say that isn't coming?

The corporation has taken the issue to the Information Commissioner's Office.

This isn't even an actual ban - the company has only been asked to stop, and has done so.

Privacy (1)

intermodal (534361) | about 8 months ago | (#44543313)

Privacy has a very different meaning to the average citizen as compared to the definition according to the government or corporations. I'm glad London is doing the right thing here.

City of London = Wall Street (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543335)

The banksters don't want their phones tapped by outsiders.

Re:City of London = Wall Street (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543537)

no that's canary wharf

Re: City of London = Wall Street (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543671)

No, it's both.

This is why... (3, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about 8 months ago | (#44543337)

This is why I keep wi-fi disabled on my mobile devices unless I need it.

I've found I don't particularly want my device to be phoning home to people when I'm not looking, and I've also found leaving wi-fi on absolutely impacts my battery life.

Stuff like this is only going to get worse as various advertisers decide they're entitled to more information than we're willing to give them.

Re:This is why... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543453)

This is why I keep wi-fi disabled on my mobile devices unless I need it.

That's odd. My phone doesn't send out probes. Like most phones it listens for beacons and connects to those I've told it to. It's possible on some phones to tell it to probe, but that's a bad idea for many reasons.

I wonder (1)

engblom (2990505) | about 8 months ago | (#44543381)

I wonder how people at all wants to live in a such country. And most of all: why are the people not protesting more.

Re:I wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543495)

I wonder how people at all wants to live in a such country. And most of all: why are the people not protesting more.

Of course, it's valid to ask why Americans are essentially doing the same thing.

"The Land of the Free" has become a joke.

Politically correct (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543525)

I'm waiting for the crack down on PC, that pig needs to slayed and raped publically for months on end on the town square. FUCK YOU PC! FUCK YOU UP YOUR ARSE, HERE HAVE MY COCK YOU BITCH!

~sure things would be simpler and closer to the truth then, wouldn't it, you scared little pantsy?

Could have been worse (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 8 months ago | (#44543527)

They could have actually followed you around, autoplaying ads.

"Quick! To the stairs!"

Re:Could have been worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44544403)

That's Version 2.0.

No, really: The CEO of this company sounds like the sort of complete twat who was inspired by the stalking ads in "Minority Report" and would like nothing better than to be the first to implement and deploy them.

Where? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44543643)

London != City of London. Article and summary say City, but the summary title and parts of the article say London (or "the east of London").

Who thought this was a good idea to begin with? (3, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | about 8 months ago | (#44543775)

Subject says it all. How was this allowed to happen? Garbage bins don't need to other people, they need to track when they are full and need to be emptied. I'm sure that this stems from a Government funding program in a black budget that the people of London (and other areas of the UK) have no idea they are paying for.

I do realize that the US probably has similar or worse programs that we are not yet aware of. I know they have been working on billboard advertising to track people and believe it has been implemented in NYC to some extent. We, all of the free people, need to put an end to this! Nothing good can come from this level of tracking people!

CC TV? (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 8 months ago | (#44543841)

London, the city with more closed circuit cameras than anywhere else on Earth, wants to ban spying on pedestrians? Or is it only a concern when someone other than the government has control over the information?

Maybe wireless specs need to eliminate open MAC (2)

Ioldanach (88584) | about 8 months ago | (#44544055)

Currently wireless devices negotiating connections to nearby WiFi points need to exchange MAC addresses in the initial exchange of data, on an essentially open channel, because all data exchanges recognize each other with the MAC address, to determine routing.

Perhaps the spec could be augmented by allowing a randomized MAC address that is not tied to the device. Define the first octet so manufacturers don't assign anything to it, and leave the remaining bits as completely random. Make the next part of the packet the public half of a key pair that the device expects responses to come back to. Allow the same random MAC address scheme to be used by either side of the connection. Only accept packets that can be properly decoded with the private key of the key pair, which eliminates the problem of random MAC address collisions. As a part of negotiating the secured connection, when exchanging the private key also exchange the real MAC address only after the secured connection is complete. Or, never use the real MAC address and retain the random MAC address for the duration of the connection.

Excellent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#44544241)

Very good! Perhaps then they will move on to disabling tracking from obvious sources like mailboxes, then telephone polls, then store signs, then traffic lights, then billboards, then street fences, then shrubs, and then rocks!

wait... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#44544305)

Can we just ban tracking phones? Who care what does it...
Wait... let me rephrase that... can we just ban "tracking"? My commercial or government entities?
Free people should not be tracked by anyone.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

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>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...