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Metadata On How You Drive Also Reveals Where You Drive

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the turn-this-off-before-driving-through-a-mall-like-the-blues-brothers dept.

Transportation 81

chicksdaddy writes "Pay-as-you-drive programs are all the rage in the auto insurance industry. The (voluntary) programs, like Progressive Insurance's Snapshot use onboard monitoring devices to track information like the speed of the automobile, sudden stops, distance traveled and so on. Safe and infrequent drivers might see their rates drop while customers who log thousands of miles behind the wheel and/or drive recklessly would see their insurance rates rise. GPS data isn't generally collected, and insurance companies promise customers that they're not tracking their movement. No matter. A study (PDF) by researchers at the University of Denver claims that the destination of a journey can be derived by combining knowledge of the trip's origin with the metrics collected by the 'pay-as-you-drive' device. The data points collected by these remote sensing devices are what the researchers call 'quasi-identifiers' – attributes that are 'non-identifying by themselves, but can be used to unique identify individuals when used in combination with other data.' In one example, researchers used a strategy they called 'stop-point matching,' to compare the pattern of vehicle stop points from a known origin with various route options. They found that in areas with irregular street layouts (i.e. 'not Manhattan'), the pattern will be more or less unique for any location. The study raises important data privacy questions for the (many) 'pay-as-you-drive' programs now being piloted, or offered to drivers – not to mention other programs that seek to match remote sensors and realtime monitoring with products and services."

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Google's not happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979845)

This removes one way for them to "monetize" the data they collect from everyone with location services enabled on their Android cell phone....

Re:Google's not happy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980043)

My cockpoles will invade you are ass until your asshole starts shooting them back out as if it's a cum faucet!

Cell phones already provide the data. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979853)

Data on where you are, data on how fast you drove, data on where you have been, etc.

However, this doesn't mean that signing up for this intrusive insurance company black
box program is a good idea.

Also worth mentioning is that most newer cars are able to store crash data in their existing
onboard computers. Such data as speed, acceleration rates ( negative acceleration too )
and lateral G loading are often stored in the OEM onboard computer.

Welcome, my son, to the machine.

It's all right, we know where you've been.

Re:Cell phones already provide the data. (1)

BitterOak (537666) | about a year ago | (#44979953)

The difference is you can turn OFF your cellphone when you go somewhere you don't want people knowing about.

Re:Cell phones already provide the data. (5, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44979979)

Well, you can turn off the car and push it. Just pretend you have a Yugo.

Re:Cell phones already provide the data. (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44983433)

Your more basic, less electronic car still faces one road in/out licence plate, driver and passenger facial recognition camera arrays while driving in constitution free zones.
With some States keeping and cross referencing all data gathered - its going to get hard to escape all encompassing regional data gathering task forces.

Re:Cell phones already provide the data. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980075)

Yeah well, there are these things called a side cutter and a soldering iron and those are for people who are gentle. For the ruffians, a hammer will also do the trick...

Re:Cell phones already provide the data. (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44981073)

The other big difference is that cellphones don't provide that data to your insurance company.

Driving 80mph is going to affect your rates, even when you drive in states where 80 is both legal and the prevailing speed of traffic.

But stopping at restaurants with liquor licenses could also affect your rates if insurance companies gain a method to track you.
These types of devices allow insurance companies the ability to prejudge you, without relying on your driving record. They also provide a basis for claims denial based on trivial violations of traffic laws that had nothing to do with the accident. Even If the other person was at fault.

Insurance is supposed to be an actuarial science.

Re:Cell phones already provide the data. (1)

dr2chase (653338) | about a year ago | (#44981909)

"These types of devices allow insurance companies the ability to prejudge you, without relying on your driving record."

I take it you've never been a male under 25 years old with a driver's license? Insurance companies do this stuff all the time.

Re:Cell phones already provide the data. (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44981929)

"These types of devices allow insurance companies the ability to prejudge you, without relying on your driving record."

I take it you've never been a male under 25 years old with a driver's license? Insurance companies do this stuff all the time.

But its not personal. Its actuarial.

Re:Cell phones already provide the data. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44982381)

Multiple news reports indicate that, even when turned off, a current cell phone still provides information to track the cell phone. Since many current cell phones have internal batteries, removing the battery is no longer an option to tracking.

Re:Cell phones already provide the data. (1)

norpy (1277318) | about a year ago | (#44999075)

Multiple news reports indicate that, even when turned off, a current cell phone still provides information to track the cell phone. Since many current cell phones have internal batteries, removing the battery is no longer an option to tracking.

Multiple news reports published bullshit!

I know how this is going to end (0)

bytesex (112972) | about a year ago | (#44979865)

Cue to the NSA wanting the information in 3.. 2..

Re:I know how this is going to end (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44979899)

Cue NSA having the information since 10 ... 9 ... 8 ...

What part of Total Information Awareness [wikipedia.org] do you not understand?

Re:I know how this is going to end (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year ago | (#44980019)

Data collection system developed and mandated by NSA and kept under the publics radar by gag orders.

(I don't actually know, but it wouldn't surprise me at this point.)

Look, is any of this stuff news? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979873)

The war for Internet privacy is over. We lost. There is no set of laws or regulations or RFCs that can get it back. Too much of the world's economy now depends on getting and analyzing and cross-referencing petabytes of information on consumers and their daily activities, phone calls, emails, television viewing, purchases and web surfing. And now, they all have the technology to do it in an economical fashion.

As Scott McNealy said way back in 1998, "You have zero privacy now. Get over it."

Re:Look, is any of this stuff news? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44979923)

The war for Internet privacy is over.

Actually, not even Internet can compromise your OTP lines of communication. You can still have privacy when you need it most.

Traffic analysis (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#44980015)

not even Internet can compromise your OTP lines of communication

Even perfect encryption still allows traffic analysis. If the government can discover with whom you're communicating, when, where, and how much, it can discover much about your motives.

Re:Traffic analysis (1)

Random Destruction (866027) | about a year ago | (#44980197)

Traffic analysis only gives you an upper bound. That's why spy stations read numbers every day, even though they (likely) only rarely send messages.

Re:Look, is any of this stuff news? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44980017)

Actually, not even Internet can compromise your OTP lines of communication.

Yes it can. A OTP can protect the content of your communication, but it does not protect the meta-data. "They" can still see who you are talking to. Once they know who is involved, they can use the proverbial $5 wrench [xkcd.com] to retrieve the content.

Re:Look, is any of this stuff news? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44980575)

Actually, they can't if you implement it properly. Given the nature of OTP, it's perfectly safe to use broadcast/multicast to transmit the messages. Or propagate them in a peer-to-peer graph of nodes. Or you can use a bulletin board-style system to connect a large number of people. Unless your system is actually compromised, there's no way to tell which recipients succeed in decoding which messages.

Re:Look, is any of this stuff news? (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about a year ago | (#44982707)

But you have to be sure it's getting to many unrelated ears. Posting it up on your blog because "anyone can read it" is not good. Something like Freenet or Usenet or in a popular torrent is probably better.

Re: Look, is any of this stuff news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984039)

Exactly. Quicksilver posting through multiple stripping remailers landing in alt. anonymous is a great way to go.

By OTP, Kyosuke means (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44982011)

One true pairing [urbandictionary.com] -- "your favorite combination of characters in a fandom". yw

Re:Look, is any of this stuff news? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44983455)

Thanks to Snowden the world now understands hardware, software, networking, brands and crypto been sold as "certified" to be useless junk.
Air gaps, a return to one time pads or a deeper understanding of networking crypto will hopefully follow.

I'd sooner stop driving a motor vehicle.. (2)

kheldan (1460303) | about a year ago | (#44979877)

..than allow any vehicle I own to have a tracking device installed on it. JUST SAY NO.

Re:I'd sooner stop driving a motor vehicle.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979901)

I'd sooner fuck a road-kill possum before I ride in a car with you.

Re:I'd sooner stop driving a motor vehicle.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980299)

Why? Are you that into necro-bestiality, or is it some personal issue between you and GP, or are you just a dick?

Re:I'd sooner stop driving a motor vehicle.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980029)

Cool! We have too many cars on the road anyhow.

Re:I'd sooner stop driving a motor vehicle.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980127)

Oh, sorry. You'd best stop driving your car then. I've had a tracker on it for 3 months now.

Re:I'd sooner stop driving a motor vehicle.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44981837)

Just because Tom Tom is selling our data to the police..
Oh yeah, now I get what you are saying.

It is also not to anonymous if it shows where trips start (most likely your house) and stop (possibly the strip joint).

Re:I'd sooner stop driving a motor vehicle.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44982393)

Your onboard cell phone (a la' OnStar) constantly transmits local and other information. You have to disconnect the antenna to stop the onboard cell phone from broadcast your data.

Re:I'd sooner stop driving a motor vehicle.. (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year ago | (#44983205)

Does that include odometers? They track how far you drive.

Re:I'd sooner stop driving a motor vehicle.. (1)

kheldan (1460303) | about a year ago | (#44985925)

odometers

Sure but your odometer isn't connected to a radio transmitter that sends that data to some corporation or government agency somewhere. It also doesn't tell anyone where you've been driving or when.

quasi-identifiers, metadata (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44979887)

Marketspeak for spooks...

Re:quasi-identifiers, metadata (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44979941)

Pavlovian even.

Easy solution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979911)

To foil the stop-point matching, just make random stops wherever you go. I'm sure my fellow motorists on the highways will understand.

Re:Easy solution (1)

vjoel (945280) | about a year ago | (#44979937)

To foil the stop-point matching, just make random stops wherever you go. I'm sure my fellow motorists on the highways will understand.

Also, no sandworms!

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44981035)

that may not help, depending on the amount of information the tracker is basically an inertial navigation system in reverse, instead of determining where to turn right after going so fast for so long, it is the reverse, go this far at a certain acceleration/velocity, etc

These are ideal for Manhattan (or Chicago)... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979919)

These sort of systems are outright ideal for people who a) don't drive, b) own a car, and c) live in a dense urban area. Chicago's streets are more regular than Manhattan's - we're on a strict North/South/East/West grid, which makes me one of the people this isn't really all that easy to track with.

Besides, I just plain do not drive. BIke? Yeah, constantly. It's a 20 minute ride from my apartment on the lower west side to downtown, and it's actually *longer* if I drive (and a hell of a lot more expensive to park). I start my car, maybe, once a month. I'm still on the same tank of gas I put in there in May.

I don't know why I still have a car, but signing up for State Farm's Drive Safe and Save program has *halved* my insurance cost. HALVED. 50%, poof, gone. I don't care if my insurance company knows where my car is if the discount is that steep. Plus, seeing as the car is parked most of the time, I'd actually want my insurance company to know where it is in case it goes missing unexpectedly.

Also, I don't get all the whining. It's not like you don't already have a unique identifier plastered on the front and back of your car already.

Re:These are ideal for Manhattan (or Chicago)... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980049)

Also, I don't get all the whining. It's not like you don't already have a unique identifier plastered on the front and back of your car already.

Yes, and these plates have been OCR'ed for a long time. I agree, if you care don't use a vehicle with tracking plates.

I'm like you, I would jump on an insurance program with black box - if I had a car. It seems less of an intrusion than a facebook account or Android phone.
But I can't park a car where I live (or park it freely), and the biannual inspection fee would be a pain so I don't have a low use car.

Not worth worrying about (3, Insightful)

davebarnes (158106) | about a year ago | (#44979939)

By 2060 it will be illegal for humans to drive a car/truck in the USA. Your robot driver will be ratting on you anyway.

Implications of robot drivers (3, Insightful)

justthinkit (954982) | about a year ago | (#44982057)

Implications of robot drivers:
- no need for each person to own a car. A pool of robot "taxis" will be available to everyone at all times. Dispatched from one company there will be no turf wars, no gouging of passengers, no navigational incompetence. - no need for taxi drivers, truck drivers, ambulance drivers, etc.
- no need for parking enforcement & traffic cops
- no need for human-use gas stations
- no need for Joe's Rip-Off garages
- no need for Costco to sell motor oil
- and best of all, a 95% reduction in TV advertisements!
Unfortunately:
- no more Geico ads [youtube.com] )

Sherlock Holmes responds, "Duh!" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44979997)

The character of Sherlock Holmes would be a villain today. Very little information exists in a vacuum. We once revered characters like Sherlock Holmes that could follow the threads that connected that information. Today we are horrified by that same feat. If there is anything to be afraid of it is that we have big data and not huge data. The false positives of big data are manifest in huge data, when supposedly unique results reutinely yield multiple, instead of only one false positive. 100 years ago we lived in several communities of millions. Today we are part of one community of Billions. Things will/must change. Ultimately it's better to accept and get it right then it is to fight and to move from one series of bad compromises to the next.

Re:Sherlock Holmes responds, "Duh!" (2)

zippthorne (748122) | about a year ago | (#44980053)

Judging by all the police procedurals and the two Sherlock Holmes TV shows (one in the US, one in the UK), (and setting aside the generic steampunk movies they made instead of Iron Man 4 and 5), either most people don't see him that way, or Hollywood is really trying to portray that sort of thing as acceptable.

Re:Sherlock Holmes responds, "Duh!" (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980095)

We once revered characters like Sherlock Holmes that could follow the threads that connected that information. Today we are horrified by that same feat.

There's just a little bit of difference between ONE man who can, IF he's interested in the case, put the clues together- and a system where any cop (or corp) can press a button and pull up detailed records about pretty much anyone.

Re:Sherlock Holmes responds, "Duh!" (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44980657)

Actually, I am fine with Holmes. He uses his abilities to track down worthwhile criminals and bring them to justice. he doesn't waste his talent on harassing basically harmless low level offenders and he certainly doesn't waste it trying to get people to buy things they don't need and that are in many cases ultimately harmful to them.

If only the corporate world had that level of moral restraint.

Re:Sherlock Holmes responds, "Duh!" (2)

TheRealHocusLocus (2319802) | about a year ago | (#44982785)

I had a severe adverse reaction to Sherlock Holmes as a child. Still do.

It was soon obvious that the feats of deduction based on observation described in the books were explained to the reader post-seeum, that is, explained by Holmes himself and the reader was not even invited to participate. Or Doyle was too simply lazy to describe the surroundings, opting instead for some sort of empty exercise in hero-worship. If Tolkien or Auel had described a crime scene you'd be able to spot that broken twig.

There is a certain realm way beyond the possible and the ridiculous, beyond any suspension of disbelief, a place where you cannot even enjoy a bad movie because a part of your brain is asking, "Are there people out there who actually enjoy this stuff?" and you are distracted because it leads to "Are any here right now ... and should I be worried about these people?"

I decided early on that the feats described were impossible because the human eye and brain cannot resolve and store high definition images and process them completely in real-time, excessive signal to noise ratio and quantum flux in all motion that cloaks everything in Gaussian noise. For every Holmsian 'clue' you could spot in the real world you are also presented with countless equally possible 'faux clues', or even real clues that relate to some other crime. I just knew this, though I could not describe it that way until I was much older.

I was used to comic book characters performing the impossible. They do it with style and sometimes a wink of humor. But Holmes did not fit anywhere. Not even Jesus had the privilege of having a whole Universe (obviously) constructed for the sake of massaging his ego-intellect, where a gentleman could glop around in galoshes for a whole afternoon --- ever so carefully --- so as not to disturb the tiny scrape marks in their inner heel that Holmes was supposed to divine. It seemed so scripted, somehow.

Sherlock Holmesees are just 'Just So Stories' told without the flair and nonsensical humor of Kipling. They are entirely at your expense. No will ever spot a "monograph I have written on the subject" because he had never written any. He was also a compulsive liar.

The genre has spawned a load of modern shite like some CSI and all of Numbers and what have you, that try to present as possible and grainy-real to gullible people, situations that should be setting off loud clanging false-flag and deception alarms in our heads. It would have a detrimental effect, short-circuiting the part of the mind that is supposed to step up and say "This just isn't right."

And when Hero-Holmes made inquiries into police matters, he was always of course privy to information that should not have been obtained without a warrant. The Sherlock Holmes genre prepares you to accept NSA surveillance. Implicitly trust authority when steeped in hero-worship, unbelievable coincidences do happen (when we say they do). Training wheels for Sheeple.

"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be [STRIKEOUT: the truth] [INSERT] a clear sign that you may not have thought of everything."

Privacy is for the rich (2)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about a year ago | (#44980013)

Throughout history and especially in today's world anyone able to pay extra can get more privacy and anyone sufficiently poor has none. This is simply a continuation of that trend. The poorer you are the more forms you have to fill out with personal information to get what you need and the less likely those forms are to be jealously guarded. On the extreme end you have people filling out dozens of forms daily dealing with hospitals, charity organizations, food banks, and government assistance organizations just to survive. In this case if you're rich enough you can choose an insurance company that won't log every mile you travel. At the other extreme you have people with private airplanes they board with the surrounding areas screened for photographers; houses surrounded by tall walls and guards; every form filled out by someone else and when possible with inaccurate personal information; cars with dark tint on the back windows; and personal physicians bound to secrecy with highly restrictive privacy agreements.

Re:Privacy is for the rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44987511)

Another example: Poor families in Florida are being compelled to submit to inaccurate and degrading urine tests in order to receive the pittance of ever-decreasing social assistance they're entitled to.

(Not a reference, but further demonstration of worsening mistreatment of the poor.) [opposingviews.com]

Hard way of doing it (1)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about a year ago | (#44980035)

insurance companies promise customers that they're not tracking their movement.

Here's the easier way of finding out where someone's driven: get the government to go ask the insurance company for their records. Do you actually believe them when they say that they're not keeping track of your location?

Insurance risk (5, Insightful)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#44980059)

The reason for insurance is to spread the risk (and associated costs) over a large population.

When insurance companies pick-and-choose their customers and rates, it invalidates this purpose.

We've been seeing this with health insurance in past decades: ineligible if you have a pre-existing condition, or get dropped if you develop a condition, or get charged more for smoking or being older.

This makes sense from a business perspective, so don't bother saying "what did you expect a business to do?" I'm saying that it makes progressively less sense from the customer's point of view. As these metrics get better, the companies will know exactly how much you will cost them as a customer, and charge the appropriate rates. Why bother with insurance if they know beforehand how much you will need it?

Legally mandated insurance then becomes simple rent-seeking, with no benefit to the consumer.

This particular trend - monitoring the driver's behaviour - is framed as a good idea. Everybody thinks they are a better-than-average driver, so the tradeoff seems like a good deal. You don't care about the big picture because hey! I just saved a bundle on my car insurance!

Here's the big picture: there's no way to verify that the monitoring unit isn't broken, there's no way to verify that the monitoring report is accurate, or that what it's measuring is significant, or that the company isn't skewing the risk. There's no studies that link measured modes with accident risk, no way to tell whether the algorithm for detecting driving modes has flaws, no leeway for corner cases or exceptional conditions, and no way to appeal the decision.

You have a promise from the insurance company that, if you're a safe driver, your rates will go down.

The privacy implications are also important: your driving profile probably tells a great deal about your psychological makeup (how often you use the horn, how sharply you take corners). This would be of enormous benefit to advertisers, profilers, police, and national security agencies. The insurance company can make money by selling this information, but it's OK because it's not financial information.

Ten years from now this will be a problem: insurance companies siphoning money from customers for no benefit.

Perhaps we should be forward-looking this time and prevent useless suffering before it happens.

Re:Insurance risk (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | about a year ago | (#44980115)

"You have a promise from the insurance company that, if you're a safe driver, your rates will go down."

I hope you don't actually believe this. They said the same thing when airbags were invented. They said the same thing when daytime driving lights became mandatory, and the seat belt laws too. You would think my rates would be almost zero by now. Nope.

Re:Insurance risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980139)

Perhaps we should be forward-looking this time and prevent useless suffering before it happens.

If we did that, we'd build competent public transport systems all over the country; and stop building cities in deserts like Phoenix. This is not something the USA has ever done.

Re:Insurance risk (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980161)

"Legally mandated insurance then becomes simple rent-seeking, with no benefit to the consumer."

Call it really what it is for fucks sakes: Feudalism.

All the news outlets are going to say it's rent-seeking, you see they're owned by either AG Bertlesmann, Disney, Viacom or News Corp, and they have a vested interest in not being split up into a larger number of smaller papers, magazines, and electronic media outlets. Their sponsors have an interest too.

They want to prance around the fact that once things get really f-ing bad, the kings head goes on the pike, along with their family, servants, and counsels of various sorts. They'd rather pretend we're in some kind of advanced society where things like that just don't happen.

We can solve our energy problems with liquid thorium salt and a hell of a lot of money poured into fusion. We can solve our food problems with multistory hydroponics (and dayum are some cheap designs coming out of china just for that!). We can solve overpopulation by educating everyone and putting them to rethinking how to reinvent a less-destructive industry and by getting into space. But our governments are so focused on petty shit and this story is petty fucking shit. Things are getting bad because our leadership is a bunch of self-interest short-sighted lazy pricks.

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980203)

But here's the thing: what's a normal guy going to do?

When the insurance industry sneaks in their desires into law (Guess who wrote the Affordable Care Act? Hint: Not the Obama Administration - suck it Fox News!.) all we little people see in the media are distraction issues or distortions of the facts - up yours Fox News, CBS, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, all you over paid sacks of shit!! The media only reports on what brings in the eyeballs - obviously - and as a result, they mostly report on issues that get people's blood boiling: abortion, guns, evolution being taught in schools, gay marriage, Global Warming deniers, etc ...

Sometimes I wonder if some BIG CORP/Billionaire wants to sneak something really bad into law, THEY hire someone to create a controversy with one of those distraction issues.

Big shot: "We need to get a law that sends billions in bailouts for our fuckups! Let's get someone to sue to marry his gay lover on top of the Ten Commandments at a church and having his Mother abort his brother!"

Big Shot #2:" Yeah!, I'll get Rush's writers on it right away!"

Big shot:" And get teh Tea Partiers riled too!"

I as a normal person with a normal life do not have the time or legal knowledge to watch every single bill that comes up in Congress or in my State Legislature.

My fellow citizens are suckers for bullshit.

Turn off the TV.

Re: I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44984059)

Actually, keeping up with "The Snakepit" as I call it is easier than you think. If you have an Android device, install the free app Congress from the Sunlight Foundation and visit Popvox on your desktop browser. No excuses anymore.

Re:Insurance risk (4, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#44980545)

We've been seeing this with health insurance in past decades: ineligible if you have a pre-existing condition, or get dropped if you develop a condition, or get charged more for smoking or being older.

This makes sense from a business perspective, so don't bother saying "what did you expect a business to do?" I'm saying that it makes progressively less sense from the customer's point of view. As these metrics get better, the companies will know exactly how much you will cost them as a customer, and charge the appropriate rates. Why bother with insurance if they know beforehand how much you will need it?

You've gone completely to the opposite extreme from the one the insurance companies are trying to get to.

There are two types factors at play here: Luck (randomness), and various behaviors under your control.

Insurance is for distributing the cost of bad luck over the entire population. People agree that anyone could, randomly and through no fault of their own, get cancer or get hit by a drunk driver. And while the cost of dealing with the aftermath may be exorbitant for an individual, it's reasonable if a bunch of people get together and agree to cover the costs together for anyone in the group who happens to be unlucky.

Insurance is not for distributing the cost of risky behaviors that an individual willingly engages in. In health insurance, it makes no sense to require non-smokers to cover the extra cost smokers incur due to the additional health risks caused by smoking. Likewise, if you choose to speed or make a lot of sharp turns, it makes no sense to force safer drivers to subsidize the cost of your risky behavior.

The insurance industry would like to go to one extreme and drop coverage or deny claims for people suffering from bad luck. You want the other extreme where insurance covers everything including willingly partaking in risky behavior. The logical balance is to force insurance companies to cover bad luck cases, while allowing them to distinguish and assign different rates based on riskiness of behavior. (Note that this also "solves" the DNA profiling problem. You do not control your DNA, so any problems you're genetically predisposed to are due to bad luck, and should be covered.)

Ten years from now this will be a problem: insurance companies siphoning money from customers for no benefit.

In states which require auto insurance, there is usually a government insurance commission which limits the amount of profit the insurance companies can make. They cannot siphon off additional money. If they get into that situation, the state will force them to reduce rates to bring their profit margin back down.

Or at least that's what's supposed to happen. If that's not happening in your state, you need to figure out why (usually it's due to corruption because politicians know they'll always be re-elected because the state always votes for one particular party), and do something to fix it. The mechanism for regulating insurance rates is already in place for most people, no need to complain as if we're completely at the insurance companies' mercy.

Re:Insurance risk (1)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#44980967)

The insurance industry would like to go to one extreme and drop coverage or deny claims for people suffering from bad luck. You want the other extreme where insurance covers everything including willingly partaking in risky behavior. The logical balance is to force insurance companies to cover bad luck cases, while allowing them to distinguish and assign different rates based on riskiness of behavior. (Note that this also "solves" the DNA profiling problem. You do not control your DNA, so any problems you're genetically predisposed to are due to bad luck, and should be covered.)

There's a huge difference between risk factors you know in advance and having bad luck later. Would you let someone diagnosed with cancer take out a life insurance policy at the same rate as everyone else? No. Would you let someone who's been to a genetic review and found he has a 99% predisposition for developing cancer in the next five years take out a life insurance policy at the same rate as everyone else? Yes, it's bad luck. But he knows he has bad luck and can now hike his payout and pool his crap odds with the average odds of everyone else. That's not fair to everybody else. If you know you're about to get cancer, you should get "people about to get cancer" rates. If you want to share the risk with everyone else, you must do it in advance of learning the results.

You also didn't solve the other big issue which is that once you've had bad luck, you might be very predisposed to more bad luck but on your current insurance you started early as a low risk pool customer while if you switch you're a very high risk pool customer. For example, say you got cancer and were cured. The fallback rate is high, much higher than for the general population. No other insurance company wants to touch you with a ten foot pole or at ludicrous rates. You're trapped at one company and they want to get rid of you too, so the moment you're temporarily well they'll do anything they can do drop you, if not directly then indirectly by raising rates and being as uncooperative as possible. Miss one payment and you're out for good.

That's what I find so bizarre about the US implementation of Obamacare, everyone should have medical insurance so everyone's tab will be picked up by somebody, but the risk is not pooled. Those that the insurance companies manage to "get rid of" will go to the insurer of last resort that makes sure everyone has insurance and it will take all the costs while the other insurance companies pocket the profit. And now they can do it with better conscience because someone else will take over and they won't be dying in the streets. Both these problems are non-existent with real universal healthcare, we're all in the risk pool and come bad luck or good we'll stay there until we die.

Re:Insurance risk (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year ago | (#44980589)

The problem is that fundamentally insurance is not a good fit for the requirements of health care.

Insurance for a business or consumer provides protection in the event of catastrophic but exceeding rare events, generally events so rare that the probabilities defeat the human imagination and most people are unable to make realistic judgements about them.

Catastrophic events can happen in terms of someone's health, and insurance is a good solution for a surgery or other treatment resulting from an accident or new diagnosis. Insurance is not a fit for predictable events. An annual physical is predictable. Once identified a pre-existing condition is predictable. A prescription medication which manages (but does not cure) a particular condition is predictable.

Spreading risk is the function of insurance. Spreading predictable costs is correctly labelled socialism. Expecting profit-driven insurance companies to do both successfully leads to disappointment.

Re:Insurance risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980855)

There are two fundamental problems with your argument.

1) Risk is not the same as reality. An individual with a higher risk of involvement in an accident will not necessarily be in an accident.
2) Costs associated with any given accident are not necessarily the same as the amount of premium charged. Costs in catastrophic accidents are typically much higher than premiums charged the individuals involved in those accidents.

Re:Insurance risk (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year ago | (#44982803)

The reason for insurance is to spread the risk (and associated costs) over a large population.

That's part of it - the Sesame Street version. The other part is to limit risk and costs to subscribed population. Then there's ensuring that sufficient reserve funds exist to cover expected contingencies, and... well, a whole lot of other things. Insurance is a complicated business even before you add in competition and profit.
 
The problem with insurance today isn't insurers picking and choosing their customers, it's people like you who really don't understand insurance and what seems to be a widespread belief that insurance is a slot machine that pays out a full jackpot every time you pull the handle.

I really want the list of participants (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980231)

I really need the people with the tracking device installed to inform them of my special offers:

Buy our $100 lottery ticket, you could win $110! (Odds of winning 1:200)

Join our lucky winners club, for only $5 a month, you can be entered in our annual drawing for $60 and a gold star sticker! (Odds of winning 1:100)

P.T. Barnum is salivating in his grave.

Will be Mandatory in a few years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980273)

The Insurance Lobby has been spending millions of dollars annually lobbying the federal government to make this kind of tracking mandatory, and the Federal Government is quite interested in having the "metadata" too, since it is yet another way to spy on its citizens.

I'd say we probably have a couple more years of these programs being "voluntary" until most Insurance companies either require them outright, or there is a new federal law making them mandatory for everyone.

Already Here (1)

b4upoo (166390) | about a year ago | (#44980407)

Parents have used devices to study teen drivers for quite some time as have suspicious wives and husbands. In a way that establishes precedent. Having already accepted the right of one person to track another without their knowledge or consent how could we say it is wrong for other parties to do exactly the same thing? Black boxes for crash studies have been in many cars for quite some time and have been very carefully kept out of court cases in which they could provide vital evidence as to who was speeding or if the brakes were applied before the crash. We also have Lojack type devices that track car locations. It seems to me that we have already let this tiger out of the cage.

But driving is a privilege! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980497)

See, driving is a privilege! So tracking all your movements on public roads and highways is for the good of the community.
What, got something to hide?

But anyways.

I've always thought classifying driving as a privilege and not a right when the main mode of travel is by road is insane and just makes it easier for government interference. And yes, you can still have rights that need a license, we do it for business, guns and marriage.

Re: But driving is a privilege! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44980639)

You're spot on. There is no place for 'privileges' in a free society. We allow the government to do certain things. These days, too many things, but we allow it. They would like you to believe the opposite. Don't. There are no privileges, and anybody who says otherwise is grabbing for power.

Photogrammetric bridging/map matching (1)

citizenr (871508) | about a year ago | (#44980685)

I saw a nice animation of a working system ~month ago. Cant find it now.
It was basically a huge HMM problem.

Video starts with IMU sensors reading of estimated car movement, somewhere else on the screen all the possible roads are listed and in time eliminated using HMM. Real position is snapped into road taken on the map after ~1 minute in a big city.

So? (1)

R.Mo_Robert (737913) | about a year ago | (#44980699)

For the most part, this involves people driving a car on a public street. That is not a private act (despite what, e.g., speed camera opponents apparently want you to think). I don't see the problem, especially if drive in actual cities with real blocks, where this doesn't work as well, anyway (not that you need to drive, but I digress).

If the home is the starting point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44981341)

You can figure out a person's entire life.

mod[ down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44982155)

a facT: FreeyBSD And she ran

My Experience (so far) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44982223)

I signed up for one of these devices about a month and a half ago. Although I can pull up the daily map showing the general area the vehicles are parked or traveling, I don't get my first "report card" until a full calendar month of data collections, so look forward to seeing my first report in a few days. The general daily information I can pull up shows a color coded block of the grid the car operated in, and what the stats are for that grid (lower or higher than state average for collision or non-collision risk). So far I've always shown up in areas that are lower than the state average for risk.

An interesting aside. I received a letter from a rental car company wanting me to pay for collision damage that a renter said I caused by rear-ending the rental car they were driving. When I called them asking for details - they didn't submit a police report, collect a driver's license or tag, they said the only thing they had was the driver gave them a phone number (which matched my home number), and I assume they did a reverse lookup of my number to get name and address. It happened in a city that I have not visited in 30 some years, so it occurred to me that if I had the tracking device installed at the time of the alleged incident then I would have a solid alibi of not being anywhere near the scene. BTW, my insurance company essentially said to ignore because of how ridiculous the situation is.

Adding noise (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#44982757)

I wonder if you can gain privacy by adding noise in the system: if I exit a motorway just to re-enter it immediatly, if I stop at unexpected places, is it still possible to infer the destination?

Re:Adding noise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44983173)

Not really. Yes.

Re:Adding noise (1)

mutube (981006) | about a year ago | (#44984653)

You're not adding noise, you're adding data.

fundamental question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44982911)

Fundamentally people are going to have to ask the question: if robots take away the jobs of the cab driver, what are they going to be doing in its stead?
Also do the laws of generality for things like actuarial science really embody the person in particular. We will have to face the fact that if you constantly treat people based on the profile taken from a database collected at some point in a mass fashion, are you not selectively inculcating the same properties to the person. You're essentially taking the viewpoint, a person, from birth to say, a certain time like 20, you're very much already defined by the environment, that people are already set in their ways.
You've basically, if you use socio econometric parameters, created a caste system that is very much based on stereotypes, or worse a stereotype based on large sets of data collated only at a certain point in history. Will we ever progress when the epitome is joe blogg with his burberry and you need the ads to support it?

What about green lights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44983067)

Using the data collected from these devices, you still won't know where the person went to, since you don't know how many green lights they passed through.

The Stupid Spy (1)

markdavis (642305) | about a year ago | (#44983217)

>"The (voluntary) programs, like Progressive Insurance's Snapshot use onboard monitoring devices to track information like the speed of the automobile, sudden stops, distance traveled and so on. Safe and infrequent drivers might see their rates drop while customers who log thousands of miles behind the wheel and/or drive recklessly would see their insurance rates rise."

Fast acceleration, itself, is not unsafe nor reckless.
Hard braking, itself, is not unsafe nor reckless.
Hard lateral G-force, itself, is not unsafe nor reckless.
Speed, itself, is not unsafe nor reckless.

All of these things could be in AVOIDANCE of one or more accidents as a reaction to someone else's poor driving. They can also be done perfectly within the law and perfectly safely.

A spy device in your car tells them NOTHING about how safe or reckless a driver is, it just allows insurance companies to make ASSUMPTIONS about your driving which are very likely to be incorrect and/or unfair. And giving discounts for using one is the same as penalizing those who don't.

The insurance co. may not, but the NSA would (1)

Inev (3059243) | about a year ago | (#44984317)

It should be noted that while the insurance companies may not be tracking you, the data they receive is likely considered "business records" and that "metadata" can be handed over to the NSA who actually would use that info to track you.

I did it (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | about a year ago | (#44985213)

I have progressive and I went ahead with their snapshot program. It's really neat because I would go on the web site every night and look at my driving record. The web site displays the time, driving speed, time and duration of each ride, along with number of "hard stops" made. It considers a velocity drop over 7mph/s to be a "hard stop". I hardly ever made hard stops.
I had that device plugged in for six months. During those six months I made a round trip to Florida. Most of the trip I was going at least 80mph, sometimes 90 and occasionally I exceeded 100mph. It was all recorded and displayed in the graphs on the web site. Overall, I drove like a speed demon, but my hard stops averaged to less than 0.1 hard stops per hour of driving.
After the six months were over, my insurance rate went down 27%. My insurance rate was already fairly low to begin with, so 27% amounts to just a few dollars per month.

GPS Tracking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44990091)

Progressive uses http://www.xirgotech.com/ [xirgotech.com]
These trackers are far from the best tracking hardware. Lots and lots of issues with the firmware, and bad data coming from the device.

The main issue is reliability of the tracker being used for insurance, how do you know its reporting the correct data to the company?

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