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NYC Is Tracking RFID Toll Collection Tags All Over the City

Soulskill posted 1 year,16 days | from the oversight-planned-for-2018 dept.

Privacy 314

In the northeast U.S., most of the tolls people encounter when driving make use of a system called E-ZPass to let them pay the tolls electronically. Drivers are given small RFID transponders that are scanned in tollbooths, at which point the toll is automatically deducted from a pre-paid account. One hacker got curious whether the RFID tags were being scanned elsewhere, so he tweaked his E-ZPass to blink a light and make a noise every time it was read. He tested the streets of New York City, and wasn't surprised to see it light up in plenty of places where there were no tollbooths to be found. From the article: "It’s part of Midtown in Motion, an initiative to feed information from lots of sensors into New York’s traffic management center. A spokesperson for the New York Department of Transportation, Scott Gastel, says the E-Z Pass readers are on highways across the city, and on streets in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, and have been in use for years. The city uses the data from the readers to provide real-time traffic information, as for this tool. The DoT was not forthcoming about what exactly was read from the passes or how long geolocation information from the passes was kept. Notably, the fact that E-ZPasses will be used as a tracking device outside of toll payment, is not disclosed anywhere that I could see in the terms and conditions. When I talked to the E-ZPass Inter-agency Group — the umbrella association that oversees the use of the pay-toll-paying tags in 15 different states — it said New York is the only state that is employing this inventive re-use of the tags. ... 'If NYDOT can put up readers, says [the hacker], 'other agencies could as well.'"

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Trending political procedures... (4, Insightful)

killfixx (148785) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841633)

Do a lot of tracking of everything a person does and only come clean when someone calls 'em out...

I hope this "hacker" is anonymous... Otherwise he's headed for a jail cell...

It used to be okay to point out when your government was being shady...

Not anymore!!

Yay!

Welcome to 1984!

Re:Trending political procedures... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841773)

You are an idiot, this was a well-known initiative to improve traffic flow in Manhattan. It has never been secret.

Re:Trending political procedures... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841885)

It has never been secret.

Except for:
- where the RFID detectors are.
- if they store the ID of the EZ-Pass tag.
- if they store the geo-location data.
- how long the keep the data.
- who has access to the data.
- if they sell the data.

So you're right, no secrets here.

Re:Trending political procedures... (4, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842099)

This should have been in the agreement. Most would have no problem with it -- as long as it wasn't secretly used for law enforcement.

Lawyers started supoenaing driver self-cams used in driving safety research, and volunteers dried up.

Of even greater concern is illegal NSA type stuff. I suppose more people will put in these read-detectors to map them all out and force government to explain them all. This is a good thing.

Re:Trending political procedures... (0)

curunir (98273) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842083)

And it's not exactly unique. Caltrans uses the sensors for the FastTrak toll devices to monitor the flows of traffic and respond to accidents faster. It makes a lot of sense and you can opt out by putting the transponder in your glove compartment. You can test that this works (I've done it) by forgetting to remove it from your glove compartment when you drive through the toll collection area. The sign won't signal that you've paid, but the license plate recognition will resolve the fare properly.

Yes, there's a potential for abuse in stuff like this, but the benefit to everyone is undeniable. Faster response from officials to traffic conditions will help alleviate them sooner and may result in emergency personnel arriving on scene sooner and saving more lives. And I'd rather they use a technology that's both cheaper and easy to opt out of than to install expensive camera systems that track license plate numbers and give drivers no way of avoiding being tracked.

Re:Trending political procedures... (2)

Mister Transistor (259842) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842255)

Illinois has also been doing this for several years, especially around the Chicago area.

There are some locations where they have signs up stating that "No Toll is Being Taken" and others that are not marked. The transponders they used to use had displays and beeped when accessed, I imagine that's why they put up signs, people used to notice accesses. Of course, the new replacement ones do not have any external indicators that they are being polled so that allows them to interrogate them anytime silently.

They are now also interrogating them at small antenna sites between the major toll gates for traffic flow analysis, but AFAIK they are not using them anywhere but on the tollways. It is not known if they are gearing up to do speed measurement or anything nefarious with them, I don't think they can get away with that since not all vehicles have them.

Re:Trending political procedures... (5, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842179)

initiative to improve traffic flow in Manhattan

If your goal is to improve traffic flow, you don't use EZPass, you use traffic counters that get laid down on the street (or use the pole-mounted radar counters) that are probably cheaper than the RFID devices they're using. Those don't identify each individual vehicle's path, but they do make it really clear where people are going (e.g. "the exit ramp has a count of 400 per hour, and and there's 350 more just to the right of that ramp than there was coming from the other way you can get to that spot.").

Alternately, you can ask yourself how many major construction projects have occurred in Manhattan to improve traffic flow in response to the data from this program. I'd be really surprised if New York City even considered, say, rerouting 5th Avenue.

Ergo, traffic flow isn't the problem NYC is trying to solve.

Re:Trending political procedures... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841869)

I've rarely lived anywhere that had toll roads or toll bridges, but when I have and had to use them (like when moving all over creation after Katrina), I just paid cash.

To me, it was worth the little extra they charged to keep from being tracked every time I crossed the bridge, etc.

Re:Trending political procedures... (3, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841927)

You could actually use this the other way.

Remove the tag before you go do something naughty but keep it in your car other times.

Re:Trending political procedures... (1)

davester666 (731373) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842325)

That's like painting a big red X on your vehicle when you go to do something naughty, because you and your vehicle is also tracked other ways, such as your cell phone location, tracking of your license plate. Correlating records will make them want to know why you decided to drive downtown without your transponder.

Re:Trending political procedures... (3, Interesting)

fizzer06 (1500649) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841989)

In the Dallas-FortWorth area, you can't pay cash, no toll booths. You get a bill in the mail if you don't have EZ Pass. The bill includes extra fees for examining the photograph and mailing the bill.

Re:Trending political procedures... (1)

usuallylost (2468686) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842073)

That is increasingly the case in my area as well. Basically the older toll roads have booths but the newer ones do not. I also notice that increasingly the booths on the older ones are only manned at peak travel times. So realistically if you use those roads much at all you pretty much have to have an EZ Pass. Fortunately my current job doesn't take me through the areas with the tolls very much so I haven't had one for years. The rest of the time I just detour around the toll roads whenever possible.

Re:Trending political procedures... (4, Insightful)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842239)

eventually it will be illegal to drive without EZPass, and you will be billed for driving all over the place. All roads will be toll roads.

Re:Trending political procedures... (2)

postbigbang (761081) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842271)

And so you take your EZ-Pass, iPass, or whatever, and put it into its metal box after you're past the toll-whatever.

Some of the tollbooths now take RFID-based credit cards. Same answer. These are radiological tokens. Kill the radio by putting it into a metal can, box, or even most ashtrays.

That it's tracked isn't surprising. I'm looking at your cam right now. Stop picking your nose.

Re:Trending political procedures... (1)

alen (225700) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841995)

the last time i drove to the Bronx Zoo i bet some government worker had an alert flash when i paid my toll via ez-pass
he jumped up and screamed, we got him. we got him. he's driving to the bronx

Re:Trending political procedures... (-1, Troll)

Libertarian001 (453712) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842023)

Bull shit. You were taken by surprise that there were tolls there, and weren't staying long enough to bother with setting up E-ZPass. All of you Privacy Commandos need to get over yourselves. I'm right there with you in believing that it's an important cause, but you're completely full of shit if you're claiming that you're doing anything other than bending over and taking it, then crying about it on /.

Re:Trending political procedures... (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842253)

There's an Impeach Obama to Stop World War 3 booth RIGHT NEXT TO ME, RIGHT NOW. I really don't think you can rule out people paying cash to avoid the Government tracking their cars.

Re:Trending political procedures... (1)

tian2992 (1690038) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842077)

You still are tracked. Most bridges and toll booths have cameras.

Re:Trending political procedures... (2)

sfm (195458) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842281)

The problem with cash is the number of places that accept this form of payment is shrinking rapidly. I see a day in the near future where your only 2 options for Highway/Bridge tolls are Tolltag and Pay-By-Mail (They photograph your plates and mail you the bill).

But no matter how you pay, you are still being photographed, not only as you approach and depart, but also while you pass the toll booth. Check out those vertical cameras at ALL of the SF Bay toll plazas.

1984 and the Left (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841991)

The reference to 1984 correlates the political disposition of the state of NY (and NYC in particular). A dogma of leftist political ideology that the state Is Good For You(TM) to the point that you shouldn't want anything BUT the state to intervene in your life. So it is not surprising that a state dominated by Left-Liberal politics is taking a lead in using tracking technology to find out how its happy masses are managing their lives -- and to keep them happy by doing so.

Re:1984 and the Left (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842041)

"So it is not surprising that a state dominated by Left-Liberal politics is taking a lead in using tracking technology to find out how its happy masses are managing their lives -- and to keep them happy by doing so."

Ron Paul(TM) and the Gold Standard(TM) would've stopped all this, I'm sure. Why won't you people ever listen to the AC geniuses in your midst?

Re:Trending political procedures... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842305)

Don't worry, soon it's 1985 and we can put all of this behind us!

Re:Trending political procedures... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842351)

Is this just really widespread paranoidal response to 9/11 that all elected politicians become assholes and implement dystopian surviellance policy, or have I missed something here? I'm not paranoid enough to think there are master puppeteers behind all this, and I won't attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity, so I'm just gonna suspect this is all an irrational response by behavior types prone to positions of power thinking what they are doing is best for America.

I HOPE, the voters of this country have truly had their eyes opened by what the NSA has been doing, and how Federal, State, and Local governments have all overreached their authority, but the cynic in me knows full well willful ignorance come relection time will end up allowing these politicians to remain in place. And if not these policies directly, slight variations thereof.

Were you expecting anything different (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841689)

...when you put a RF transponder in your car with identifying details unique to you?

I have a tupperware bin in my car lined with foil that I leave my Fastrak (Bay Area equivalent) in, and I pop the lid whenever I pay the bridge crossing. They know when and where I commute to work (they'd actually know that anyway because of the bridge cameras), but I won't make it that easy for them anywhere else.

Re:Were you expecting anything different (4, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841981)

Actually it probably has no identifying details at all... it's almost certainly just a serial number, and that's it. It may also have a checksum on the device that might be derivable via a one-way hash from personal information that the company has about you, but in general this would not be practical to try to reverse, Such a checksum id could potentially be used to verify at their end that the device was not a forgery.

The company that collects the data on the device has your identifying details and has recorded which device, by serial number, they assigned to you. Whenever they are scanning the device, all they need to do is look up its serial number in their database to get all of your identifying information that they have... unless somebody else had suitable access to that same database, they would not generally be able to identify who you were or anything else about you for that matter.

A third party could, however, potentially use the information even without access to said database to track where it was you were going... although as far as they are concerned, they'd be tracking some anonymous device, with no idea in general who actually has it... only knowing where it was detected by scanners.

Re:Were you expecting anything different (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842269)

Except if they have cameras and can identify the vehicle or identify a vehicle uniquely present in all N pictures, they can now identify you.

Pretty sure GoodToGo Pass (WA) does this too (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841699)

I've heard from the truckers that use it the weigh stations have scanners for the GoodToGo car passes. This might sound innocent (ie. you know when a truck is passing a weigh station), but that isn't listed anywhere in the terms. I wouldn't be surprised if they are scanned in many more places.

Cup holder (5, Funny)

A10Mechanic (1056868) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841703)

Does it also chart the size of the soda in your cup holder?

just wait... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841871)

they want to tell you what to eat and drink, what doctor to go to, and even who your neighbors should be [wsj.com]

Re:Cup holder (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842143)

Maybe. It's RFID based, could be capable of activating all RFID tags in the vehicle, including ones used by shops to track stock.

Tin Foil Hat for your car? (2)

ntshma (864614) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841717)

This kind of thing isn't even a surprise anymore. Something I learned as a kid: "You pay for convenience" It's just that today you're paying with more than just your wallet.

Re:Tin Foil Hat for your car? (5, Informative)

Ronin Developer (67677) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842185)

When I received my EZ-Pass, I also received a bag (like those used to protect electronic chips) that I could put my EZ-Pass in when I don't want it to be read. It's my choice.

People were so up and arms of the UUID in iPhones and iPads being used to track their activity...but, the ability to collect this type of UUID in EZ-Pass has been available for years and nobody gave a rat's ass. The difference over license plate numbers (readable via OCR) is that these are easier to read....AEI tags, the tags used on railcars (EZ-Pass on steroids) were designed to be read as trains passed at over 90 MPH.

If you run a GPS such as Waze or another with real-time traffic analysis....it's, likely, reporting your position, speed, direction and...an identifier (maybe just your Waze account ID). All modern cell phones are E911 capable - they know where you are ... if they care. Do you turn your phone off when you drive your the car or go about your daily business? Unlikely.

There are far bigger things to worry about.

That being said, it would be interesting to know how this data was actually being used, stored and shared.

NY isn't the only place tracking toll tags (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841735)

CalTrans does the same thing with FasTrak tags in California

Still pissed (0, Troll)

Spiked_Three (626260) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841741)

I'm still pissed I was labeled a troll when I mentioned that there was no privacy in the US. And since then 1/4 of all news stories have been about how we have so much less privacy than anyone thought.

Want to discuss wireless tire pressure gauges in your tires, how 4 somewhat constant numbers (or at least predictable changes) can be read from sensors in the road, and have been on cars for 10+ years? I know, another conspiracy theory.

For every 4 surveillance things you know about, there are 100 others you don't, half of which have been used somewhere sometime.

So give up on the privacy whining. You don't have and will never get it back. And the biggest point, WTF do you care for? You think anyone cares you are butt fucking your same sex roommate? Society doesn't care anymore. The poeple who will use that info against you will find out some other way. The only dumbasses who care about privacy are the ones doing something they know to be illegal, immoral or otherwise dangerous. I bet Castro was a privacy advocate.

Re:Still pissed (4, Insightful)

brainboyz (114458) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841805)

Funny you mention gay sex and then go on to list the only ones that care about privacy are those doing something "illegal, immoral or otherwise dangerous." Have you not been paying attention to Russia lately? Gay sex recently became illegal again. Just because society and politicians don't care NOW doesn't mean they will continue not caring.

Re:Still pissed (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841851)

If you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to hide. /oh-so-obvious-troll

Re:Still pissed (2, Informative)

newcastlejon (1483695) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842069)

Have you not been paying attention to Russia lately? Gay sex recently became illegal again.

No, it didn't. Talking about it, however, is a different story.

Have you not been paying attention?

Re:Still pissed (5, Informative)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841831)

I'm still pissed I was labeled a troll when I mentioned that there was no privacy in the US.

Yea, I'm sure it was because you "mentioned" it; surely you weren't labeled a troll for gems such as:

So give up on the privacy whining.

Or

The only dumbasses who care about privacy are the ones doing something they know to be illegal

Or maybe even

I bet Castro was a privacy advocate.

Now GTF my lawn, you fucking troll you.

Re:Still pissed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841977)

You continue to be a huge jerk, CanHasDIY.

Re:Still pissed (2)

Shortguy881 (2883333) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841897)

Its not the collection of the data, its the shady circumstances under which it is collected. All of this huge data collection happening outside the public's eye can be used for nefarious acts, not only by individuals, but by corporations and governments. What better way to control a population than through analytics?

Re:Still pissed (0)

Spiked_Three (626260) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842035)

What better way to "protect" people, than through analytics? Or is the tradeoff that we don't want the best (or at least better protection) if it means ATT will be able market to us?

Every technology advancement comes with potential for abuse, hell I think they tried to teach that lesson in the first Star Treks. I have seen nothing that shows the data is being abused in any way. I know of lot's of cases, mostly unknown to the public, where the data has stopped events like the Boston marathon. That one got through, sure, but have you thought about how many don't?

Re:Still pissed (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841947)

Just because you are right once in a while doesn't mean you're not a troll.

If you act like a troll, use the tone of a troll, complain like a troll, etc, etc ... well, then we'll think you're a troll.

BTW, does the bridge you live under have EZ-Pass?

Re:Still pissed (0)

Spiked_Three (626260) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842095)

good point, accepted. I'm not the most tactful writer, and people who read here are not my drinking buddies, I care less what they think, fuck em.

It's just when you're labeled a troll because someone doesn't like your point, that it twerks me a little. I generally think of trolls as people who make shit up just to argue. Labeling them trolls is like calling them liars, to me. I guess I need to read up on what the slashdot moderator definition of trolling is next time I have points.

Re:Still pissed (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842233)

I see you're a tad conflicted here. "I care less what they think, fuck em" and "It's just when you're labeled a troll because someone doesn't like your point, that it twerks me a little" are a bit at odds.

Don't worry about being modded a 'Troll'. It's the catchall "I disagree" moderation. People do it to surpress someone else's ideas or just to be a prick. Either way you shouldn't take it personally. Yes, they can and do target specific users (happens to me once in a while) but that just means you've pushed their buttons in advance that they'd disagree with you if you told them the time of day.

Just think of it this way: something you're saying on the internet is pissing someone off on the internet. And something someone on the internet is doing or saying is pissing you off on the internet. Go have that beer and let the people who know you, those that look you in the eyes, judge you for who you are.

Re:Still pissed (1)

Spiked_Three (626260) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842145)

BTW,

"BTW, does the bridge you live under have EZ-Pass?"

http://www.pbase.com/mikep/image/152069058 [pbase.com]

That is one of my newest neighbors. 3 of them WITHIN 1 block. You think I think I have privacy?

Re:Still pissed (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842287)

I built a dipole sniper rifle once that could fry electronics from 500 meters. No boom, no bullet. Just one glorious column of invisible EMP death reaching out to skullfuck your television into the grave.

Re:Still pissed (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842177)

I think I see why you were labeled a troll... you pack retrospective, editorial, controversial opinion and passing off opinion as fact into the same comment. If you broke this up into multiple comments, you'd probably find that the passing off opinion as fact was the only bit that got modded troll.

Basically, I'm sure when you mentioned that there was no privacy in the US, someone else mentioned that you can have no expectation of privacy in the US (different than saying there's no privacy), and got modded Informative.

The US is big. People came to the US from other countries because there was room to have privacy and freedom of expression -- through obscurity. If you burn flags in the middle of a forest and there's nobody there to see you do it, does anyone care? BUT, if you burn flags in the town square and shout "down with the government!" even if it's not illegal, you can rest assured that your name and face have been noted and will be remembered during the next uprising.

The only dumbasses who care about privacy are the ones doing something they know to be illegal, immoral or otherwise dangerous. I bet Castro was a privacy advocate.

I agree. Everyone else who cares about privacy are aware of how private information can be taken advantage of by others. Only the dumbasses, as you state, care about it because they have something socially unacceptable to hide. Privacy, of course, is not anthropomorphic, and doesn't care whether you're a dumbass or not.

Not completely news (5, Informative)

RedShoeRider (658314) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841745)

"Notably, the fact that E-ZPasses will be used as a tracking device outside of toll payment, is not disclosed anywhere that I could see in the terms and conditions. "

In NJ, buried in the fine print, is a line that reads something like "other information may be obtained by the the Consortium at their discretion", which easily translates to: "We're going to use this to monitor traffic flow, and by doing that, we're monitoring you".

If you're driving on the Parkway (a New Jersey toll highway), there are plenty of places where you can see EZPass pickups buried in the road surface that are nowhere near the toll sites.

Re: Not completely news (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841829)

EZ-Pass readers are not buried in the road, they must be positioned overhead. What you're probably seeing are magnetic loops used to count and classify vehicles passing over them. If there are two loops in each lane, they're also using them for speed/traffic flow data.

Re:Not completely news (2)

Binky The Oracle (567747) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841853)

I remember this being discussed several years ago (I think here on Slashdot, in fact), but for Houston. The toll tags were being read by sensors mounted on nearly every overpass sign and used to create the traffic speed maps that we've all come to know and love. The controversy was primarily that they were not anonymizing the data and had no defined retention period. It surprised a lot of people at the time. Now, not so much. I'm actually surprised that anyone is actually surprised by this story. I now just assume that my toll tag is being read in any state I travel, whether it's "compatible" with their system or not. :-/

Re:Not completely news (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842061)

The controversy was primarily that they were not anonymizing the data and had no defined retention period. It surprised a lot of people at the time. Now, not so much. I'm actually surprised that anyone is actually surprised by this story. I now just assume that my toll tag is being read in any state I travel, whether it's "compatible" with their system or not. :-/

Yeah, my state has toll roads and uses the tags for traffic monitoring. Prior to the toll roads, if you wanted to help, you could pick up a tag for free. I can't find the website that stated this, they may have taken it down, since so many people have tags already. This isn't a secret or a conspiracy. It's a service. As you say, there should be procedures in place for handling the data, but you can't tell that just because they pinged your tag.

The author of this story drives around holding his cellphone up to take video in heavy traffic. I consider that a bigger threat than his tag being read.

Re:Not completely news (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841861)

How do you see them if they're buried in the road?

Re:Not completely news (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842093)

He is probably seeing loop detectors for traffic light timing or traffic monitoring loop detectors that measure speed and density of traffic as it passes. These are usually used for motorist info signs and traffic reports. If you are paranoid, they are also xray machines that know who you are and what you have in your car. And they are everywhere.

Re: Not completely news (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842125)

The magnetic loops show up as octagonal cut lines in the center of the lane. They make the cut, feed the loop in and then fill the cuts with epoxy to seal it back up. There's usually a cut line off to the shoulder of the road as well which routes the wire to a junction box. It's then connected to a low power traffic counter with a network connection.

Quick hardware hack (3, Interesting)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841775)

Time to put your transponder into a flip-lid Faraday Cage [wikipedia.org] that springs open only when you require it, then closes by default.

Re:Quick hardware hack (4, Interesting)

Andy Dodd (701) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841855)

Interestingly enough, EZ-Pass devices installed in rental vehicles do EXACTLY this to allow the renter choice of whether to use EZ-Pass or normal tolls.

Re:Quick hardware hack (3, Insightful)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841889)

And I'll bet somebody has patented the 1836 technology.

Re:Quick hardware hack (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842049)

I'd bet there were at least two such patents: One for shielding electronics, and another the same but, "on a carputer"...

Re:Quick hardware hack (1)

swb (14022) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841903)

I don't know how other transponders work, but my Minnesota EZ-Pass turns off when I remove it from the windshield-mounted holder -- there's a pin in the holder that hits a recessed switch.

I remove it when I am using an HOV lane as an actual carpool so I don't pay the toll for using it.

I would assume that this would keep it "off" for all other uses of it, unless the apparent off setting is only valid for HOV lane readers, same with the "beep" it generates when the HOV readers scan it.

Re:Quick hardware hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841945)

And to make the spring open thing work, you can use the RFID activation signal from the toll booth right? That way you don't have to open it yourself. Then no one is tracking your transponder, just your faraday cage door opener.

Re:Quick hardware hack (1)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841993)

And to make the spring open thing work, you can use the RFID activation signal from the toll booth right? That way you don't have to open it yourself. Then no one is tracking your transponder, just your faraday cage door opener.

I pondered that but non-toll-booth signals could trigger it open too, so probably a manual system is best.

Illinois also uses the data for non-tolling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841819)

They also use the data for Traffic information purposes, but only on the tollroads. That is how they get all the travel time information for the traffic signs on the toll road. They have several data collection locations that are not used for tolling at all, but only at the ends of the tollways not covered by toll booths. To my knowledge, the data isnt kept longer than the time required to traverse the tollway.

Note: Anything using EZ-Pass tags will contain a tag identity number, the agency that issued the tag, and potential, a weight or vehicle size class, with the number of axles of the vehicle. Nothing in the tag itself, identifies the vehicle it is in, or any account holder information, That is up to the agencies to maintain.

Don’t keep it on the windshield (3, Insightful)

_Ludwig (86077) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841827)

I have never kept my FasTrak (our version of EZPass) stuck to the windshield. It lives in its mylar foil bag in the center console until I’m approaching a toll. Besides, people will break a window and steal it. It can’t be linked to a different vehicle, at least not without me setting that up, so it’s pretty much worthless to anyone else, but crackheads don’t know that.

Re:Don’t keep it on the windshield (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841873)

I do the same, but I tend to keep it attached to my car if we're going on a road trip. Otherwise, during normal car use, the EZPass is in a bag in my glove compartment.

Re:Don’t keep it on the windshield (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841913)

It can’t be linked to a different vehicle, at least not without me setting that up, so it’s pretty much worthless to anyone else, but crackheads don’t know that. . . .

Why not? Does the system cross-check against license plate photos or something like that? I've seen friends move turnpike transponders (not called FasTrak, so not in your area) and I didn't know they'd done anything special to use it with a rental or company car, etc. But I never thought to ask, either.

Re:Don’t keep it on the windshield (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842085)

Once the tag is flagged as stolen, It is flagged as suck on the issuing agencies system (They can use it to trigger a violation, call police, whatever they want) for OTHER agencies, the tag is just marked as a bad tag, the agency you just drove through, takes your license plate pictures and treats it like you didnt have a toll tag.

Re:Don’t keep it on the windshield (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842091)

In Illinois, they have you register the plate so that if the read fails and they get the plate from the camera, they just charge back to the account rather than start the fine process.

Re:Don’t keep it on the windshield (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842227)

I have never kept my FasTrak (our version of EZPass) stuck to the windshield. It lives in its mylar foil bag in the center console until I’m approaching a toll. Besides, people will break a window and steal it. It can’t be linked to a different vehicle, at least not without me setting that up, so it’s pretty much worthless to anyone else, but crackheads don’t know that.

Yeah, I know what you mean man, those damn crackheads and their electronic toll pass addiction...so stupid they'll look right past the $2000 in-dash infotainment system to to go for that $10 piece of shit transponder every time...

You already have something like this on your car.. (4, Insightful)

ravenscar (1662985) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841833)

It's called a license plate. With technology that allows license plates to be read by cameras, any government organization could track the movements of every vehicle everywhere in their jurisdiction. Don't think you can't be tracked because you don't have an RFID tag in your vehicle.

Re:You already have something like this on your ca (2)

Spiked_Three (626260) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841921)

Yeah, and a sample license plate tracker comes with openCV these days. Takes about 20 minutes to put together a tracker that observes all visitors to the adult movie booth place down the street, and another hour or two in front of the government offices to associate license plates with bureaucrats. You know what they say, "information is power."

Re:You already have something like this on your ca (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842055)

I would like to see regular citizen's have license plate scanners installed on their cars like many police vehicles already have, only specifically looking for license plates associated with the police. With enough people doing it and uploading to a central database we could have a real-time update of where police cars are located and maybe integrated with google maps in an app. Watch the watchers.

Re:You already have something like this on your ca (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842031)

Are you implying that this makes it right?

Re:You already have something like this on your ca (1)

ravenscar (1662985) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842261)

Not at all. I just think it's important that people understand that they can be and most likely are being tracked regardless of whether they have an RFID in their vehicle. I think it's likely a losing effort to try and thwart government privacy invasion by avoiding technology. Things like license plate scanners, face recognition, drones, backdoors to hardware, backdoors to service providers, etc. make it really difficult to pratically avoid detection and tracking. It seems like it would be better to change the mindset (and legal precedent) that makes the governement think that it is okay to track us. That might be even less practical, but it's the avenue I would prefer to pursue.

Re:You already have something like this on your ca (1)

flogger (524072) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842135)

government organizations do track the movements of every vehicle everywhere in and out of their jurisdiction

Fixed that for you.

to find another good spot to setup a toll booth (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841837)

They are probably tracking people to find another good spot to setup a toll booth

Re:to find another good spot to setup a toll booth (1)

alen (225700) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841963)

NYC tried to pass london style congestion pricing a few years back but the state killed it. idea was to make people pay to drive in midtown manhattan

Hubris (5, Insightful)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841875)

It's a tactical mistake borne of hubris. When the RFID chips came out, people were paranoid they'd be use to track instead of ease on off congestion in toll roads as advertised. Officialdom trotted out the usual assurances. Now they're using them to track cars.. (as if they can't already do that through other means).

The long term effect is to breed distrust of government and technology. To induce a cynical turn of mind .

Seeing as 99% of security relies on public buy in , cooperation, the feeling of a shared purpose and identity and absent those things or if those things are greatly degraded, we have no effective security, this has to be seen as a big security blunder.

Tricking, coercing, forcing, sneaking by people what's needed for security is a bad idea. It was a bad idea when the NSA started doing it whether they were getting away with it or not. It's a bad idea wherever it goes. It works against security in a million ways none of which anyone can control.

The way to security buy in is through more openness, more sharing of the problems and threats we face and above all the verifiable protection of our civil liberties against the abuses which inevitably occur when identity and details of people's private lives are exposed for examination by the state.

You have to firewall international (or national) terrorism from all other concerns. You cannot use this information to, say catch drug dealers or common murders. Neither can you over-define what terrorism IS. Copyright violations aren't terrorism and neither are the activities of organized crime. Mainstream , even violent political protestors aren't terrorists and neither are the Tea Party or anarchists. That's called- regular life, normal criminal deviance that is NOT terroristic; the goal is not to undo Western civilization.

Deniers are of course not terrorists, despite my hyperbolic moniker.

Because that IS a slippery slope and what will happen is there will grow widespread, covert, person to person rebellion ande non-cooperation, subversion and ultimate undermining of security.

People don't want to live in Stasiland, whatever benefits there are to living in Stasiland and it' takes not very much to get people to thinking that they are living in Stasiland.

I am to the right of most people on this forum, (yesterday's rating drubbing) which is to say in the middle of the political spectrum. Even I am creeped out by some of the things that have been going on. It's human nature to abuse power in ways that lead to undue influence by the power wielders and then on to a kind of defacto fascism. That's not a political perspective, that's a historical and psychological fact and moreover instinctive knowledge. It is not possible to talk your way around instinctive knowledge.

Re:Hubris (1)

Binky The Oracle (567747) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842045)

If I hadn't commented already, I would throw some Karma your way on this one, Woofy. It's amazing how difficult it is to explain to otherwise very intelligent people the difference between "perfect" security and "effective" security.

Re:Hubris (1)

latead0pter (3027451) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842275)

I agree with everything you say, except for the part where you state "even violent political protestors aren't terrorists".

I think that violent political protestors are terrorists by definition.

terrorism |terrizm|
noun
the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

Did you know your tires have RFID also (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44841883)

Since the law was passed that cars need to have airpressure sensors, your tires now help to track you. Don't think that not having a EZ-pass is making you safe.

OMG, they are studying traffic patterns (1)

alen (225700) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841925)

everyone complains how government is so dumb in how they build out the wrong infrastructure in the wrong place
and when they try to study things for future build outs its suddenly a huge violation of privacy

Re: OMG, they are studying traffic patterns (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842009)

This.

State DOTs are not linking the transponder # to the EZ-Pass database with your account info. They're just looking at complete trips. The car started here, took these routes and ended the trip over there. Once the trip is complete, the transponder # is thrown out, because quite frankly they don't care who you are, they just want to know where they need to concentrate their spending of your tax dollars. Or they can just piss your dollars away on educated guesses. Either way there's some group that complains...

Screw YOU! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842153)

everyone complains how government is so dumb in how they build out the wrong infrastructure in the wrong place
and when they try to study things for future build outs its suddenly a huge violation of privacy

You(and many others) are quick to suggest that people are being paranoid/ridiculous/stupid for fearing this type of tracking. But the fact of the matter is that the privacy advocates have been railing against these tracking technologies from their inception, for fear of abuse/misuse. Repeatedly the proponents, government, and people like you have shouted them down saying that these technologies will only be used for this specific purpose or that and that they'll be protected against misuse. But, here we have yet another story of the tracking technology being used for unintended purposes without disclosure and when specific requests ofr information are made, they are ignored.

Yet, despite all this you still suggest that it is somehow inappropriate for people to be concerned about misuse, demand accountability from their government, or simply maintain their privacy.

Specific to your traffic analysis assertion, it is no more difficult nor less accurate for the traffic department to use good old fashioned counters for their analysis as has been done for decades. There's no need for them to use individually identifiable tracking information, nor is it easier/less expensive/etc. This is yet another case of overreach that will be used against the citizenry and the fact that you lack vision doesn't invalidate those concerns.

Here are a couple of likely possibilities for you to consider:
1. The tracking program is a trial run to test the effectiveness of the devices for implementing a Londonesque traffic congestion charge, where they charge YOU a fine/fee for driving into a district.

2. It allows the government to maintain a detailed history of your activities and travel for their convenience and later use against you. This is especially prescient in light of NYC's unconstitutional stop and frisk policies.

Re: Screw YOU! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842309)

Seriously, get a grip. Do a freedom of information request to ANY state DOT and they will send you documentation on IF they're doing this, and how it all works. They probably put out a press release at some point too explaining how they're getting all this new planning data.

Another source to request information is from the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) that exists in any medium to large sized city as required by Federal Law. They work with your State DOT to plan transportation improvements.

Instead of flying off the handle as if they're spying on everyone with a toll transponder, you take a look at the facts that are freely provided if you ask. They have nothing to hide.

Re:OMG, they are studying traffic patterns (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842245)

The issue is they did it in secret. They didn't ask permission or even let them know. Most people wouldn't give a damn if they did this openly.

How hard to pull a "Little Brother" ? (2)

Mahldcat (1129757) | 1 year,16 days | (#44841997)

...Not sure if this was just Science Fiction, but how hard would it be to clone an EZ pass off a random stranger and then reprogram a second random stranger's pass with said data?

Re:How hard to pull a "Little Brother" ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842071)

If someone used a "cloned" tag? When the actual owner contested the charges the nice people at EZ-Pass would just go to the video tape to see who used the tag. They take front & rear images of the cars as they pass through the toll booths. You can even see yourself in the pics pretty well (not to mention the license plates).

911 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842027)

Never forget.

Re:911 (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842225)

1974

Wouldn't that be true for *ANY* type of RFID? (3, Informative)

mark-t (151149) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842029)

I mean, if you have an RFID chip, wouldn't it be detecting that it's being read whenever it passes near *ANY* scanner, whether or not the people who operate the scanner are actually even interested in that RFID? All someone else would know, in general, is that the RFID isn't one that they are trying to track, and I'd imagine at *MOST* they may be able to know which company was tracking that RFID (although I'm not even sure they could do that). And even then, without access to the other company's database of users they would have no way to know who it was who had that RFID or any other personal information.

Microchips in people will be the next step.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842033)

Microchips in people will be the next step, this way your injectable bio chip would eliminate the need for cash, the need for ID or the reason for having to carry a wallet. Crime would disappear. Identity theft would go away. No need for EZ Passes as a reader would be able to read your bio chip. Everything in your chip would be tied to your bank account and the government's central database. You will be tracked by a government database and by local and national 'security' agencies for your protection and for the overall good order of society. If East Germany still existed today, this is the system they would be using.

yawn. (2)

nblender (741424) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842037)

As others have mentioned, if gubmint wanted to track you, they'd use your license plate because everybody has to have one of those whereas these toll passes are optional... In my city (Calgary, Alberta) the municipal government uses bluetooth ID's to track phones/cars as they travel down the roads to generate traffic information. We have handy signs that report the expected time to various exits. I've found it handy because I know about how long it should usually take to a specific exit and if the reported time is wildly different, I can choose to exit sooner and take an alternate route...

I suppose I could surmise that the municipal government has some way to tie my cellphone to my name and is tracking me... But I think it largely improbable and I can always turn off my bluetooth if I'm doing something nefarious just as NYCers can put their tags in a metal box.

mod 3o3n (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842109)

to fight what has Distro is done H'ere

Future plans outside New York (4, Interesting)

Applekid (993327) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842171)

In Florida, we have a toll transponder system too. Recently waves of notices have been going out that the older style transponders are being deprecated for newer ones. I always thought that was kind of silly because the new style transponders are currently compatible with the existing system just like old ones are, so it's not really a "protocol" type change (I'm a software guy, not an EE, so there is likely some RFID stuff I don't know about).

The biggest change? The older transponders would beep when scanned, the newer ones no longer have that functionality. Sounds like perpetual tracking is coming to my state.

Hence the reason I don't keep mine in the window (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842215)

I only take it out to go through the tolls.

The rest of the time it's in the console glove box.

And yes, I've confirmed that that's sufficiently far enough from the window to not get double charged when I opt to pay cash at, e.g. a NY toll booth that does double duty as both manned and E-Zpass.

expectation of privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842295)

why is there any expectation of privacy when driving on public roads? do you get equally offended when your face is captured on a security camera (used nearly EVERYWHERE)?

It's public info (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842321)

Right here in this public press release from 2011

Cameras, Microwave Motion Sensors and E-ZPass Readers Provide Real-Time Information Used in Wireless Adjustments to Traffic Signals

http://www.nyc.gov/portal/site/nycgov/menuitem.c0935b9a57bb4ef3daf2f1c701c789a0/index.jsp?pageID=mayor_press_release&catID=1194&doc_name=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nyc.gov%2Fhtml%2Fom%2Fhtml%2F2011b%2Fpr257-11.html&cc=unused1978&rc=1194&ndi=1

Lawsuit (2)

Quila (201335) | 1 year,16 days | (#44842337)

In the conditions of your contract you gave up a specified amount of privacy (your time/location information at toll booths) in exchange for the consideration of the convenience the service provides. They have now taken more privacy than you willingly gave up, providing more value for themselves than the contract gave them, and have provided no further consideration to you.

Classic example of "Give government a tool, and it will be abused."

Your tires have RFID (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,16 days | (#44842345)

If it wasn't EZ-Pass, it would be something else. Your car was sold to you with 4 RFID transponders.

TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tire-pressure_monitoring_system
Ever wonder how your car knows when the tire pressure is low? RFID is used to convey this information from each tire to the vehicle. Mandated in US since 2007. In Nov 2014, all new cars sold in EU must have it as well.

The threat of tracking has been known for a while:
https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/12/tracking_automo.html
http://www.cse.sc.edu/~wyxu/papers/TPMSUsenix.pdf
The second item suggests a working distance of 9m (31 feet), but had examples working at 40m (130 feet).

Even active tracking, where a tracking system prompts the TPMS chip to reply, is hard to identify because the car is interrogating the tires periodically. Worse than that is that passive listening of the comm between car and tire is easily done (although the polling rate is only about every 60 seconds).

I haven't heard of any commercial systems exploiting this. Instead, there has been more going on involving tracking the location of cell phones:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/metro-vancouver-project-monitors-private-cellphones-to-track-traffic-jams/article13756279/
Apparently Vancouver is doing this already - again for traffic management.

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