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Cell Phones to Monitor Traffic Flow

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the hi-there dept.

Communications 88

PCOL writes "The Baltimore Sun reports that Delcan technology will soon begin fullscale deployment of a system in Maryland that will mine cellphone data to determine traffic conditions such as jams and slowdowns. As long as a user's phone is turned on, the cellphone network notes the time of handoffs from cell to cell to calculate the location and speed of vehicles. Researchers say the program will reduce congestion by quickly delivering alerts on road conditions to drivers. The company says they will not track the movement of individual drivers. However, a staff attorney for the EFF says that tracking might violate federal law and 'increases the chances that information will be used for more invasive purposes in the future.'"

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First DUPE!!!! (2, Interesting)

Viceice (462967) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070018)

Re:First DUPE!!!! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14070021)

Slashdot should use cell phones to start monitoring dupes! :-)

http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/11/ 01/159241&tid=193 [slashdot.org]

Mod this man up. Re:First DUPE!!!! (1)

ezzzD55J (697465) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070069)

Yes the top posting in the duped story is saying how that story is a duped story :)

Re:Mod this man up. Re:First DUPE!!!! (2, Funny)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070238)

Unless I am confusing my web sites, this is the _third_ time this has been on /.

So if two is a dupe...

A third is a... tripe?

Re:Mod this man up. Re:First DUPE!!!! (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070327)

That joke has been posted at [slashdot.org] least [slashdot.org] three [slashdot.org] times before on Slashdot (the first time I saw it was the evil bit story, April 1, 2003, but it may be older than that), so it is also, at least a tripe.

I suppose there's something poetic, however, about duplicating a joke to complain about a duplicate story...

Re:Mod this man up. Re:First DUPE!!!! (1)

jafiwam (310805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070879)

So it is a trifecta of tripe.

Re:First DUPE!!!! (4, Informative)

Punkrokkr (592052) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070025)

Being an unfortunate resident of Maryland I do know that they tried to set up speed cameras; however, from my understanding that idea failed. In fact, Lockheed Martin was the company in charge of developing the cameras and when the controversy started, they let another company take over that. LM didn't want the heat apparently. They had a couple for "testing" purposes on the beltway around DC, it caught me once, but they were only sending out warnings since it wasn't "legal" yet to ticket speeders.

Re:First DUPE!!!! (1)

rnelsonee (98732) | more than 8 years ago | (#14075402)

They did send out tickets to speeders. My old roommate got one on 295 just north of the beltway. Fortunately for him, there was another car in a certain section of the picture that made the ticket invalid. It was the same type of ticket you get for running red lights - I forget the name, but it's just a civil offense and not a criminal one. The owner of the car gets hit with a fine ($75-$100 or so), but no points are put on anyone's record, since they can't prove who the driver is. But that was a couple of years ago, and I haven't seen them since, so I guess they did stop using them.

Your Rights Online: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14070100)

I'm so glad that monitoring cellphones for traffic data will protect my rights as I surf the 'Net.

Re:Your Rights Online: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14070426)

Oh my fucking God. Would you ignorant fucks please figure out that this is the "tech law" section and stop whining about it?

Re:First DUPE!!!! (5, Informative)

Jupix (916634) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070263)

Re:First DUPE!!!! (1)

kherrick (843877) | more than 8 years ago | (#14072913)

Who cares... if nobody continues reporting on the continued envasion of privacy, and if people keep screaming dupe... we might as well lay down and give it all up now.

Re:First DUPE!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14073196)

It's not invasion of privacy. It's not remotely close. Shut up.

Re:First DUPE!!!! (1)

kherrick (843877) | more than 8 years ago | (#14072845)

Mod parent down. I am tired of people screaming dupe. The fact that it happened in Missouri does not mean the fact that it is happening in Maryland makes it a dupe... if nobody continues reporting on the continued envasion of privacy, and if people keep screaming dupe... we might as well lay down and give it all up now.

Doesn't have to be a privacy problem. (4, Informative)

ezzzD55J (697465) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070022)

You don't have to do any tracking of handsets to estimate how busy the roads are - just count the number of handoffs coming in going out (per cell per handset). The quicker they are, the faster the cars are moving.

Re:Doesn't have to be a privacy problem. (3, Insightful)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070042)

Just wait til they track the individual cell phones, and use the calculations to catch speeders. Location and speed they travel. Then just get a bunch and find out who the cellphones belong to and ticket them.

Re:Doesn't have to be a privacy problem. (2, Interesting)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070058)

Not accurate enough. It's possible to triangulate a phone's position on demand down to a few metres using 3 or more towers and best-signal feedbacks, but if all it's logging is cell hand-offs then it could be a phone from any point in the cell switching to any other point in the other cell.

bs alert (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070348)

Triangulation...hand-offs....were'd you get this stuff? ...besides your imagination, I mean :)

The technology they (we) are using, as one example, includes multipath reflections (CDMA) and time-delay measurement. All that's needed is the location of one BTS, which is constantly updated using standard GPS. Spread spectrum usage has advanced significantly, and fine grain accuracy is sufficiently progressed to be able to pinpoint which user among hundreds you may want to id. Since it even works indoors, you can expect it to win out over simple GPS based locating technology.

Re:Doesn't have to be a privacy problem. (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070192)

I wish they would catch EVERY speeder. Then there'd be enough clamor that we could get the damn speed limits increased to reasonable levels. and maybe we'll stop using the rediculous rhetorical device of "if it saves one life its worth it" to pass bad laws.

The only thing that keeps bad laws on the books is arbitrary enforcement of bad laws.

Re:Doesn't have to be a privacy problem. (2, Insightful)

krbvroc1 (725200) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070476)

and maybe we'll stop using the rediculous rhetorical device of "if it saves one life its worth it" to pass bad laws.

This country suffered over 98,000 deaths from medical errors in 1999 alone. We wont force improvements in medical records, pharmacy errors, or poor IT systems in our medical system, but we will slow down the economy by 10 mph for a few lives.

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=168404&cid=140 40211 [slashdot.org]

Re:Doesn't have to be a privacy problem. (1)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14072667)

Yeah, they should have chips in cars to check speed, and not only ticket every speeder but ticket them correctly. If you want, you can speed, but you'll get a speeder tax like (mph over limit)*(time in minutes)*($.10). So you could drive 160 but it would cost ten dollars a minute.

It is pretty stupid to force everybody to speed so they don't go so crazy slow as to impede traffic. At least it's not 55 everywhere still.

Re:Doesn't have to be a privacy problem. (3, Interesting)

Macka (9388) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070174)


I'm writing this from the City of Sheffield in the UK, about 200 miles away from where I live. I just drove up this morning. On 3 occasions I called the Orange traffic info line to check what was happening on the motorways (freeways) ahead of me. Apart from getting info on specific motorways (punching the number in on the car keypad) one option is to get traffic information near to where I am. It takes only a couple of seconds, then they announce the A road or motorway I'm traveling on, the direction I'm traveling in, and then proceed to give me a full report on what happening ahead of me and in the surrounding area. It's bloody useful.

It's also possible to be too paranoid about things to you own detriment !!

Re:Doesn't have to be a privacy problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14070231)

It's also possible to be too paranoid about things to you own detriment !!

Yes. Keep thinking happy thoughts, citizen.

You won't be led to slaughter... no, that doesn't happen.

Happy thoughts...

Re:Doesn't have to be a privacy problem. (1)

pin_gween (870994) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070424)

It's also possible to be too paranoid about things to you own detriment !!

Normally, I'd agree with you. But THEY told me if I did, they'd get me for it.

we should have a right to track cell phones (1)

EccentricAnomaly (451326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14071286)

It's also possible to be too paranoid about things to you own detriment !!

Right on! If someone is broadcasting a signal, I should have a right to track it or record it or whatever. If they care about their privacy, they shouldn't be broadcasting a beacon! Making it illegal to track signals from cell phones smacks as a DMCA-like restriction to protect bad technology by making scientific curiosity illegal.

Or this is like making it illegal to sniff packets just because people are too lazy to encrypt stuff.

Let the gubberment track cell phones! It could put a hell of a lot more drug dealers in jail. And they won't be able to track me, because I'll just turn off my phone or use alternative means of communication.

p.s. I'm not being sarcastic or trolling... I really think the right to receive radio signals is more important than the right to be lazy.

Re:we should have a right to track cell phones (1)

killerkalamari (528180) | more than 8 years ago | (#14072384)

Just what we need.. more drug dealers filling up our prisons, when there are actual criminals being freed to make room for them. I think it's kinda funny too, because many people desire drugs, and so because they are illegal the price shoots up. So making them illegal actually CREATES the monetary incentive for people to perform illegal acts to sell the drugs, drug turf wars, kids selling them at school for a profit, etc.

If drugs were legalized, they wouldn't go away, but their price would drop to nothing (besides the government taxes). And, at least here in Arizona, I can walk through the mall and not smell cigarette smoke, as it is banned in public areas.. and I can dine in a restaurant and not have to smell the smoke, because they must have a separate room for smokers (if there is to be one). Also, some people seem to think that everyone would suddenly be high all the time. That's just silly, because people can easily get the drugs already if they want them. Also, most people don't desire them (although many do).. that would not change if they were legal. Sure, some would see them and be tempted, but they can already be tempted now by their friends at school. Workplace drug tests are already in place. Just as you cannot come to work drunk without the risk of being fired, you canot come to work high either. I just don't see the big problem.

I see legalizing drugs as a good thing: it frees our prisons for the violent criminals, it reduces the cost of them so that those who desire them won't be trying to rob me to pay for their addiction, those who are addicted may more easily obtain help without becoming a criminal, there won't be drug turf wars that endanger my family, and since drugs are already available, there is no increase, and I can still teach my children to avoid them.

Although, there are the violent drug dealers as I stated.. of course they should not be freed.

Re:we should have a right to track cell phones (1)

killerkalamari (528180) | more than 8 years ago | (#14072412)

One more thing I forgot. If the drugs were legal, I truly believe they would lose their "cool"ness. Cigarettes used to be everywhere and it was considered impolite to suggest that a smokers cigarette stank. Now, smoking is becoming more and more widely seen as something stupid to do, not something cool to do. The same will happen with drugs, if they are no longer legal, they people using them will be seen for the idiots that they are and it will cease to be cool.

Re:we should have a right to track cell phones (1)

Macka (9388) | more than 8 years ago | (#14072937)


Hmm, this is going way off topic, but I want to comment anyway.

I don't think it will ever be possible to legalize drugs the way you suggest for one reason and one reason only. The amount of time strong mind/behaviour altering drugs like cocaine, crack and heroin stay in your system. Most people can regulate the amount of alcohol they consume so they're only affected from 6-12 hours. But with class B and class A drugs thats not the case. The last thing we as a society needs is a pandemic of people driving cars and working in sensitive jobs that are still experiencing judgment impairing effects of drugs, days after they've consumed them, with no recourse to stop them because they're not doing anything illegal. The amount of road deaths and work accidents would rocket! It would be a disaster.

Take a look at this site [passyourdrugtest.com] for the more info on the length of time drugs can remain in the body.

Having said that, I DO think that if someone develops a nasty addiction to something like crack, they should be able to go to their doctor, and if the doctor's diagnosis recognizes the addiction, they should get the drugs they need for FREE, until they can be put on a plan that weans them off it. I have this view because two years ago a friends ex-girlfriend got hooked on heroin and to try and get money to support it she broke into my house when I was away one weekend, and stole two laptops and various other valuable items from my office. Fortunately she did the same to my friend two weeks later, cut herself when braking the window, leaving blood spots behind and got arrested once they'd processed the DNA and sent to prison. If she's had the kind of help I describe I would never have experienced what its like to have your private property violated. It changes you as a person!

 

Reefer madness (1)

Kaseijin (766041) | more than 8 years ago | (#14082181)

I don't think it will ever be possible to legalize drugs the way you suggest for one reason and one reason only. The amount of time strong mind/behaviour altering drugs like cocaine, crack and heroin stay in your system.... The last thing we as a society needs is a pandemic of people driving cars and working in sensitive jobs that are still experiencing judgment impairing effects of drugs, days after they've consumed them, with no recourse to stop them because they're not doing anything illegal.
The psychoactive effects of most recreational drugs last for minutes or hours, not days; the body breaks them down into other compounds, and drug tests look for those. Of course, impaired judgment is a defining feature of psychological addiction, but that doesn't explain why nicotine and alcohol are legal while THC and LSD are not. Also, we have laws against driving while intoxicated and malpractice of sensitive jobs, while (over here, at least) simply being intoxicated is generally not an offense.

Re:Reefer madness (1)

Macka (9388) | more than 8 years ago | (#14106600)


The psychoactive effects of most recreational drugs last for minutes or hours, not days

Thats not a universal truth. I had a friend years ago who used to pop acid tabs. Sometimes she's have flashbacks from 2-4 days later, some pretty scary ones too. Besides, you're just looking at the length of the "high" effect, but the downer that follows can be just as bad. E's for example can leave you feeling down the next day after the high effect has warn off. The cravings that come from Heroin and Crack addiction change a person's personality, values and judgement and are directly responsible for large amounts of crime and crime related violence.

Re:Reefer madness (1)

Kaseijin (766041) | more than 8 years ago | (#14113425)

Thats not a universal truth.
Hence the word "most".
I had a friend years ago who used to pop acid tabs. Sometimes she's have flashbacks from 2-4 days later, some pretty scary ones too.
Flashbacks can occur years after any intensely emotional experience, positive or negative, drugs or no drugs.
Besides, you're just looking at the length of the "high" effect, but the downer that follows can be just as bad.
In terms of perceptual impairment? No, really, it can't.
E's for example can leave you feeling down the next day after the high effect has warn off.
Which is, you know, totally different from a hangover.
The cravings that come from Heroin and Crack addiction change a person's personality, values and judgement...
Which is, you know, totally different from alcohol. Or gambling.
...and are directly responsible for large amounts of crime and crime related violence
Which is, you know, totally different than other black markets.

Re:Reefer madness (1)

Macka (9388) | more than 8 years ago | (#14129349)

Hence the word "most"
You should have used the word "few". As most DO have effects that impair judgement beyond just a few hours. If you believe otherwise you're deceiving yourself.
Flashbacks can occur years after any intensely emotional experience, positive or negative, drugs or no drugs.
Bollocks. You've obviously never seen anyone experience a flashback. Its more than just reliving a vivid memory, its like tripping out all over again. For example, my friend described having a normal chat with her dad 2 days after coming down off a tab when he suddenly sprouted a beard, tail and horns! Scared the shit out of her.
In terms of perceptual impairment? No, really, it can't.
Really! Tell that to my mates ex-girlfriend, the one who robbed us both. She turned from someone who was polite, considerate, clean and took pride in herself into someone who lost 3 stone in weight, stole from the people she used to be close to, and even got nicked for violently attacking a girl in the center of town so she could steal her hand bag. Not to mention all the times she got picked up for shoplifting. She was as fucked up between fixes as she was when she got them.
Which is, you know, totally different from alcohol. Or gambling.
If you weren't being so sarcastic you'd actually be right. They're quite different. Gambling doesn't come into this as its a mental illness and not artificially induced. You can't pop a pill to become a gambler.

 

Re:Reefer madness (1)

Kaseijin (766041) | more than 8 years ago | (#14164158)

...most DO have effects that impair judgement beyond just a few hours. If you believe otherwise you're deceiving yourself.
Do you understand the difference between intoxication and addiction? You must, to have written this:
I don't think it will ever be possible to legalize drugs the way you suggest for one reason and one reason only. The amount of time strong mind/behaviour altering drugs like cocaine, crack and heroin stay in your system. Most people can regulate the amount of alcohol they consume so they're only affected from 6-12 hours.
I didn't bother to mention this earlier, but alcohol is somewhat unusual among recreational drugs. The body metabolizes most substances at a rate proportional to the concentration of the substance; taking a double dose might heighten the effects, but it won't do much to prolong them. The body has limits, though, and above a certain concentration the rate of metabolism remains constant. For alcohol, this concentration is lower than typical doses.

So, you got one part right: cocaine users can't regulate the duration of effects by adjusting the amount they consume. Unfortunately for your argument, that's because any dose that would keep them high for "days after they've consumed" would kill them first. One way or another, they're coming down within a few hours of their last hit.

Now, you haven't said exactly what you consider "affected" by alcohol, but "6-12 hours" covers the acute effects and maybe a bit of a hangover. If you want to talk about addiction, we'll talk about addiction, but if I wanted tortured justifications for bad biochemistry I'd find a creationism debate.

You've obviously never seen anyone experience a flashback. Its more than just reliving a vivid memory, its like tripping out all over again.
"vivid memory" are your words, not mine. I'm talking about recurrence of the emotional state, dissociation, hallucination... a flashback to a bad acid trip looks a lot like a flashback to physical abuse.
...my mates ex-girlfriend...was as fucked up between fixes as she was when she got them.
No, she was a fuckup. Again, there's a difference.
Gambling doesn't come into this as its a mental illness and not artificially induced. You can't pop a pill to become a gambler.
Gambling is a recreational activity enjoyed responsibly by many; gambling addiction is a mental illness, as is alcoholism, as is addiction to drugs we don't have special words for addiction to. Addiction isn't just physical dependence; a person can be physically dependent on painkillers without exhibiting impaired judgment, or addicted to an activity like gambling. Also, physical dependence doesn't make sense of current drug laws; several Class A drugs are acknowledged not to be physically addictive.

Re:we should have a right to track cell phones (1)

Money for Nothin' (754763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14073149)


Let the gubberment track cell phones! It could put a hell of a lot more drug dealers in jail.

<sarcasm>
Yes, because drug dealers are the worst of society's ills. Focus on the drug dealers instead of rapists, murderers, wife-beaters, and terrorists!
</sarcasm>

Re:we should have a right to track cell phones (1)

EccentricAnomaly (451326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14076356)

murders and rapists just do evil in onsies and twosies... drug dealers ruin whole neighborhoods and sometimes whole countries (Columbia, Afghanistan, North Korea).

Re:we should have a right to track cell phones (1)

Money for Nothin' (754763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14079893)

True -- and they do so because of the black market that exists to trade drugs.

Legalize currently-illegal drugs, and the black market -- and the massive profits which flow through it back to the druglords in the nations you mentioned (particularly Columbia) -- disappears, due to lack of what is currently an extraordinary incentive to produce and sell drugs... (It's not like we don't have the example of the Prohibition and the rise of Al Capone in Chicago as an historical example of what happens when drugs are made illegal.)

Re:we should have a right to track cell phones (1)

EccentricAnomaly (451326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14100700)

diamonds are legal and look how well that works out. I doubt legitimate businesses will have a chance to compete with the drug lords, who are very well established.

Re:we should have a right to track cell phones (1)

Money for Nothin' (754763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14106371)

But grocery stores sell alcohol now, don't they? As do gas stations.

And alcohol was once illegal, just like the drugs that the drug lords, well... lord over.

The main difference I see is that alcohol was illegal for a much shorter time span than cocaine, marijuana, etc., giving the drug lords a longer time to build up their criminal empire, making them more well-financed foes. They're powerful enough and sophisticated enough now that they buy mainframes to crunch their drug-peddling data, after all!

But in the long run, they cannot keep up their racket in the face of legitimate market competition -- they can only screw with so many Walgreens' at a time! Moreover, attempts to corrupt the market (via extortion, threats of violence, etc.) would be still be illegal and could be met with things like the RICO statute and other laws targeting organized and violent crime which are already on the books and have been for decades (if not since the founding of the nation).

Diamonds are legal, but the problem with the diamond industry is that it is a monopolized industry; DeBeers is pretty much the sole source of the world's diamonds, last I checked. And they manipulate the South African govn't (among other African govnt's) into driving out competition and letting DeBeers do their mining.

Re:we should have a right to track cell phones (1)

EccentricAnomaly (451326) | more than 8 years ago | (#14107987)

Diamonds mostly come from lawless regions of the world and a s a result criminals control the means of production. Drugs are the same way, the drug trade originates in countries with week governments who will be unable to control drug lords after legalization... during prohibition alcohol was supplied by domestic producers and producers in Canada and Europe...
Just look at history and see what the opium trade did to China when it was legal. Poppies and Cocaine will do more damage if they are legalized. Marijuana probably wouldn't cause problems because it can be grown domestically like tobacco.

Stuff like E and Meth could be legalized, but the illegal trade would continue because the legal versions would likely be more expensive as companies charge more to protect themselves from lawsuits. Such producers couldn't be protected from lawsuits like tobacco companies because such a move would essentially destroy the FDA.

D-word (0, Redundant)

usv (829497) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070036)

Can this technology also be used to monitor dupes?

observe the slashdotism: (1)

hedge_death_shootout (681628) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070045)

It's just a few small steps from this measure to MIND CONTROL CHIPS EMBEDDED IN OUR BRAINS!!!111

invasive (5, Informative)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070057)

We have a similar system in the UK.

Introduced to provide traffic speed info (provided you subscribe - about $50 per month).

Now beiing used to find stolen cars, terrorists (recently anyone who disagrees with a government minister) and people who owe parking tickets - who have their car clamped until they pay.

George Orwell was only 20 years too early - he got most of the rest right.

Re:invasive (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070092)

Now beiing used to find stolen cars

Car thief privacy is important.

terrorists (recently anyone who disagrees with a government minister)

I don't know how it goes on your side of the puddle, so maybe that's true, but I'm going to need to see data on that.

and people who owe parking tickets - who have their car clamped until they pay.

Who gives a damn? I understand being angry about parking tickets, but they're going to make you pay them, and this is a fairly innocuous use of the technology.

Since I don't yet buy your "anyone who disagrees is a terrorist" thing (though if it's true, I'd be happy to be convinced), these all seem like more efficient ways to enforce good, or at least morally ambiguous, laws.

George Orwell was only 20 years too early - he got most of the rest right.

I hate governmental privacy invasion as much as the next guy, but let's not pretend we're living in a dystopia quite yet.

Re:invasive (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070153)

Interesting that you condone the use of state violence to enforce "morally ambiguous laws".

Re:invasive (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070349)

Cell phone tracking is violent, now?

Re:invasive (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14070182)

I'm going to need to see data on that.
here [scotsman.com]
more here [monbiot.com]
One nice quote:
Every day sometimes several times a day the protesters were stopped and searched under section 44.(12) The police, according to a parliamentary answer, used the act 995 times, though they knew that no one at the camp was a terrorist.
Another:
Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely (Lord Acton, a historian)

Re:invasive (3, Insightful)

Hosiah (849792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070155)

George Orwell was only 20 years too early - he got most of the rest right.

I've thought this so long, and have seen so many others say the same, that I'm supporting Orwell's canonization as an official prophet. God knows, he had a better batting average than most prophets.

Re:invasive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14070676)

Or maybe we need an Orwell version of Godwin's rule.

Or maybe all you jackasses in the USA, UK, EU, wherever who think you are OH SO OPPRESSED in an EVIL POLICE STATE BEYOND IMAGINING should actually *read* "1984" and learn what a dumbfuck comparison you are making. Kick back in your homes that you own with your multiple cars in the garage and sip whichever of about a million drinks available from the corner storeyou llike.

Then come and live out here, and piss your pants in fear before you go screaming back to your cozy Western lifestyle. Do you realize we laugh at you Westerners hysterically when yoou claim to be part of an Orwellian society or a police state or some such thing. You have no idea what those things are really like.

Someone trying to guage traffic via cell phones? Wow. Can we have that instead of mass unmarked grave with tens of thousands of men, women and children murdered by out dictator of the week? Please? We make happy trade, yes? I'll trade the OP's "government minister" for whole bevy of government imams who sentence women to be officially raped for minor crimes commited by their family members. Please? I'll take the stodgy old government bureaucrat who mouths off now and then and goes overboard with some rhetoric in place of highly organized maniacs who use ancient fairy tales and have the power and the chanting will of the people behind them to implement what the fairy tales say. You see we don't have privacy advocates to post on Slashdot, or an ACLU.

Seriously, what is this mental delusion to be an oppressed rebel? It's like a variant of Munchausen's syndrome. Instead of imagining illness you imagine persecution.

Normally I don't do this (1)

Hosiah (849792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14071748)

That is, I won't reply to such a repulsive and obvious rant. However, I will make clear that I made no indication of the United States as the *only* country affected by the Orwellianism of the new age. I would also like to point out that just because it doesn't happen on US soil doesn't mean the US isn't involved.

The totalitarian government described in Orwell's famous work is pretty much assumed to be world-wide - Oceania, Eurasia, and Eastasia all cooperating to wage perpetual war while switching allegiences every once in a while to keep the sides even. This allows each country to beseech it's citizens to sacrifice in the name of championing the state's cause (there's always a war on), an enemy to blame whenever things go wrong, and ally whose neediness may be used to appeal to the citizen's sense of charity...etc. By the way, if merely fleeing one country would have meant escape for the two protagonists of the story, they would have headed for the nearest border as soon as they consumated their first love. Now, you want the same kind of story *with* the extra ingredient of a place on the planet to escape to (oh ho ho ho ho! I won't spoil it!), check out Ira Levin's most under-appreciated novel, "This Perfect Day" (it's SCREAMING to be made into a movie!!! When will it be discovered? And when it becomes a movie, will they botch it up?)

PS to AC's: Don't cop literacy on me, Sonny. I've FORGOTTEN more books than you'll ever see in a lifetime!

Telematics (1)

polv0 (596583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070213)

This is only the first step, a new technology referred to as telemeatics [atxtechnologies.com] will soon replace any need to track your cell phone. Our cars are full of computers, just waiting to be wirelessly connected. Soon, such services will be able to:

- Detect vehicular crashes, alerting both the nearest emergency services, your family and your insurance company.
- Monitor your vehicle, suggesting maintenance.
- Allow your Insurance company to track the number of miles driven, your average speed, percentage of quick stops, etc...
- Learn about the road conditions from the vehicles in front of you.

And these are just some of the initial easy to reach applications.

Re:Telematics (1)

penix1 (722987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070524)

"- Allow your Insurance company to track the number of miles driven, your average speed, percentage of quick stops, etc..."

That will never fly. It is the fear of the screwing people will get (as if they aren't getting it anyway) that keeps things like this out as well as the political backlash involved with it. That doesn't mean they won't try....

B.

Re:invasive (1)

spinfire (148920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070224)

Provided the information in this comment [slashdot.org] is accurate, privacy concerns in this case are largely unfounded. There is good potential benefit for a system like this. I'd love to be able to dial up a map of the Boston metro area and see the congested roads marked in red (Never mind that /all/ of them would be red in Boston...).

I'm fully in support of such a system provided (and this is a neccessity) the information provided to the state is fully randomized. If, as you suggest, the UK system is being abused today, it sounds like it was poorly implemented from a privacy standpoint.

Re:invasive (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070268)

Just because the system has a little switch that says "violate privacy", and that switch is currently "off", doesn't mean there is no need for concern. History has shown that governments will abuse any power they are granted.

In some way or another, we're all paying for these "useful services" that just happen to also be useful for tracking us like animals.

Would you help your neighbor build a nuclear weapon, as long as he promises not to detonate it? What if he forcibly extracted money from you in order to build a nuclear weapon, telling you it is for your own good. Would you be at all suspicious?

Don't you think there are more useful things your government could be doing than building systems like these? How do you expect to be able to use your car at all when the oil runs out? Is it really better to force terrorists to use mass transit instead of roadways?

It's already a stated objective of both the US and the UK governments to reduce the number of people eligible to use the roads. Do you honestly believe the point of this system is to help everyone use the roads more efficiently, or to prevent people from using the roads at all?

Re:invasive (1)

spinfire (148920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070371)

Just because the system has a little switch that says "violate privacy", and that switch is currently "off", doesn't mean there is no need for concern. History has shown that governments will abuse any power they are granted.

This is a valid point, but if the poster I quoted is correct the switch is under the control of the cellphone company, not the government. And, I actually trust the cell phone companies more. I think a lot of users would complain if they found out their company was sending personal location data to the government.

Maybe I'm being an idealist.

People complain about cameras that estimate traffic flow too. Yet, the data these cameras give to the public in the form of traffic information is IMHO invaluable. It is great to be able to look on a website before heading out and know where the backups are. Is it abusable? Sure. Is everything in life a tradeoff? Yes. In this case I believe it is a fair trade.

Re:invasive (1)

penix1 (722987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070552)

"There is good potential benefit for a system like this. I'd love to be able to dial up a map of the Boston metro area and see the congested roads marked in red (Never mind that /all/ of them would be red in Boston...)."

And how do you automatically make the leap that this MAJOR privacy concern (think of the massive potential abuses) isn't one? And it isn't going to be at all accurate given the amount of people that don't (and won't) own a cell phone. So your map of Boston would be totally wrong.

B.

Offtopic: Enough of Orwell and 1984, please (1)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070545)

People who never read and do not understand Orwell keep using his novel 1984 as a kind of synonym for oppressive societies. Can we get this straight? Orwell was a member of the British ruling classes - went to Eton - and 1984 is a satire on British upper middle class life in 1948 (reversal of last two digits.) The "Proles" are all the people who did not go to public (=private) school. The "Ministry of Truth" is the BBC, churning out propaganda for the Government. Members of the upper classes (the Party) led privileged lives provided they did not step out of line. Orwell was living under a Labour government and didn't like it, and worked for the BBC where he disliked his socialist fellow workers, so he represented it as some kind of brutal dictatorship.

Well, Orwell was no prophet. He was totally wrong. We live in a society in which governments have to go abroad to be militaristic and repressive, in which information about any kind of government abuse is splashed all over the Internet in minutes. Before the Internet, someone who shouted at Harold Wilson during a party conference could be sent to prison and nothing was said about it. Now, someone shouts at a minister, bouncers and police overreact, and damage is inflicted on the Labour Party within a few days. The risk to freedom is not so much from government as large corporations, and Orwell gets a score there because, as I noted above, 1984 is a satire on a corporation.

Can we add "or who mentions 1984" to the Internet law that the first side to mention the Nazis loses?

Re:Offtopic: Enough of Orwell and 1984, please (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14071394)

Orwell was a member of the British ruling classes

Eric Blair (George Orwell) started out life as a (rather low-ranking) member of the ruling class. After his service with the colonial police in Burma, he wanted no more of it, and became a vocal leftist and anti-imperialist. This stance is pretty obvious if you read any of his non-fiction writings. His disagreements with the other leftists of his day (most notably about the Soviet Union - see "Animal Farm") don't change that.

1984 is a satire on British upper middle class life in 1948

A lot of "1984" was based on post-war England, but I don't think it's accurate to say that it's just a satire of England. The political philosphy of that novel is pretty universal, and a lot of it still applies today. The trouble is, a lot of people take an overly literal view of what Orwell's laying down, and they miss the really important bits - like the use of language to shape thought patterns and maintain control over the population. Or the idea of a constant state of war - a war that neither side has any intention of "winning".

Hardly original (1)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14072184)

I'm not sure what you mean by "a (rather low-ranking) member of the ruling class". The point was that he ranked in it, was a "party member" and not a prole. I wonder if you are writing from first hand experience of the British class system?
Read the history of Renaissance Italy and you will see that one the two themes you mention in 1984 has a long history. (The condottieri raised the use of continuous war with shifting allegiances intended to obtain and keep power to a fine art. ) The use of language to shape thought patterns and so control the populace also has a long history, with the British ruling classes consciously doing this through their education system and media since the middle of the nineteenth century.

Personally, despite or perhaps because I come from a British middle class background, I think Pohl and Kornbluth's The space merchants is a much more prophetic dystopia than 1984. P&K foresaw ever more intrusive advertising, the oppressive role of corporations, the development of addictive products to maintain corporate income, running out of oil, and the privatisation of governments. They missed the Internet, though they did get dynamically targetted advertising. The reason that Orwell is so famous is basically because he _was_ part of the upper middle class coterie that controlled post-war Britain and benefited from his connections in getting published and gaining publicity. (And, I suspect, because 1984 is a short,memorable title.)

Re:invasive (1)

paanta (640245) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070868)

I don't know if this is something to worry about. IMO, if the government wants to track you, they'll just go ahead and do it with or without having 'sanctioned' access to this data. Hell, they probably ALREADY use this method to track people, so we might as well get some good out of it. They can subpoena this stuff without your knowledge anyway. In general, I think there's a good deal of security through obscurity when it comes to the threat of government surveillance. If they want to watch you they're already doing it, but since there are a limited number of people to go over the data, they probably don't have the time to worry about you speeding or whatever other illegal things all the geeks on here are doing.

Uh oh (2, Funny)

wootest (694923) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070072)

Can you hear me now? Are we there yet? Can you hear me now? Are we there yet? etc.

I'm not looking forward to this ;)

Switch off (2, Insightful)

slashmojo (818930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070078)

Don't want to be tracked? Just switch your phone off while you are driving.. safer for everyone on the road anyway..

Re:Switch off (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14070222)

Turning off the phone isn't enough. You have to put the phone in the microwave for sixty seconds, pull out the battery, wrap the phone in aluminum foil, and throw it out the window into the bed of a passing pickup truck.

the next thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14070131)

When they get this working, the next thing will be that they think of ...*poof* now why don't we use this system to automatically detect drivers who is speeding.

Frist %stOp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14070134)

today. AIt's about person. Ask your

Obligatory (3, Funny)

codeshack (753630) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070163)

Of course, it can't track you if your number starts with $sys$...

What do you mean "in the future"? (2, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070167)

However, a staff attorney for the EFF says that tracking might violate federal law and 'increases the chances that information will be used for more invasive purposes in the future.

With National Security letters blowing like leaves in the wind, that will be about 15 minutes after it's activated.

Re:What do you mean "in the future"? (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 8 years ago | (#14071289)

Absolutely.

A local news outlet will be airing a story about how the much-lauded automated camera would help to curb speeding, and make roads "safer". Well, it seems that some people are receiving citations who weren't even in the area when the infraction was supposed to have occurred. There were over 170,000 citations issued last year, and NONE of them were dropped. This leads two very worrisome prospects:
  1. If you are accused, but you aren't guilty, how do you prove your innocense (let alone that this is entirely backward)?
  2. The accusation occurs at some point after the fact...how many people can remember exactly how fast they were going in any particular area, at any particular time, on any particular day, let alone prove it?

If each fine was in the neighborhood of $75, 170,000 X $75 = $13,125,000 = that's quite a little windfall.

Just pay me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14070169)

I don't have a problem with this as long as the users being tracked "opt in" and are being paid in exchange for the intrusion. Why should industry get a free ride out of this?

Re:Just pay me (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070548)

I don't have a problem with this as long as the users being tracked "opt in" and are being paid in exchange for the intrusion. Why should industry get a free ride out of this?

Sounds like credit cards. It was once opt-in, and some could argue it still is. However, now that the cards are the norm every try to rent a car in another city without a credit card? In essence, having a credit card is now no longer a opt-in from a practical standpoint. Cell phones are getting like this.

There is also what I will call scope creap. Once almost everyone has it, is used to it and hooked on it. Then someone is going to say lets measure velocity and issue speeding tickets. "Dear Sir, We have observed you were traveling at 63Km/h in a 60Km/h zone, your owe the state 42 pounds." Or another good one, "Dear sir: You traveled 327.2 kilometers this month and the tax bill is: $115 pounds plus VAT". And if you don't comply, "Here is your ticket $500 ticket for passing through the zone without the cell on." Something like the Illinois tool booths.

And although I know of no specific cases this could be done now and would not surprize me if it has. If the government wanted to monitor you, they could download a special applet into your cell which makes it look like it is off but quietly records your conversations without you knowing for later transmital on demand.

Food for thought. Stopping the invasion of privacy at some point will become imposible without a revolution.

The cellphone IDs are random in the data (1)

weezer weasel (204802) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070189)

I've seen a demo by the Maryland Highway Department personel involved with this technology. Each cell phone is given a random ID by the cell phone provider, so that the phones that are being tracked cannot be associated with an individual. All they know is that phone xyz is taking so long to get from one cell to the next. There are no privacy issues here.

Re:The cellphone IDs are random in the data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14070254)

That sounds like the IMEI number which is the hardware address of the phone and what the cell towers see. The IMEI number is normally associated with the account holder so they're quite likely to know exactly who you are.

This sort of technology has been around in the UK for several years and they can even do things like look back historically as to where your phone has been, a few people have been convicted of murder based on the recorded cell tracking data for their phone. Eg it showed their phone moved from their house to when the murder took place and back again, contary to what they told the police happened that night!

If you don't want to be tracked, pull the battery out of your phone. Don't turn it off as that sends a code to the network indicating you're turning your handset off (a sure sign of a guilty citizen). Pulling the battery means the cell tower just thinks your signal is too weak/obscured and adds plausable deniability!

Re:The cellphone IDs are random in the data (1)

fourtyfive (862341) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070362)

Unless of course, where you say you went, is right next to a cell phone tower. Then they know your guilty.

The issue isn't.. (2, Insightful)

Zunni (565203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070227)

The issue with this isn't the current implementation. Everything that's created to better mankind or to deliver a service starts off being utopian and pristine. It just takes time for people to start finding and using the more sinister applications of this or any other kind of service.

Examples: Email - Started off with being a convenient, quick and easy way to exchange information.. Now - Cialis and Viagra ads as far as the eye can see

Web surfing - Intended as a way to access massive amounts of information quickly and easily, basically sharing the worlds knowledgebase.. Now - Pop-up, Pop-over, Pop-under, and Glom-on ads everywhere.

So in conclusion this may provide a useful service for the first year or so, then once the government realizes they need to find a specific person, or the cell phone companies need to find out how many of their subscribers travel which roadways (to help drive advertising to non-subscribers) then it will like so many other cool ideas, just turn into a pain in the ass.

Re:The issue isn't.. (1)

Andy Gardner (850877) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070750)

So in conclusion this may provide a useful service for the first year or so, then once the government realizes they need to find a specific person, or the cell phone companies need to find out how many of their subscribers travel which roadways

What makes you think this doesnt happen already?

Oh noes! (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070255)

Like not track me in PUBLIC with my Cell phone BROADCASTING DATA ...

If people think this is a privacy violation ... they need to get their heads checked.

It's times like this I *know* activist groups need to get a hobby to carry them through the dry spells.

Tom

Of course it *CAN* be invasive (1)

puhuri (701880) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070281)

Your cell phone provider is collecting that data anyway -- maybe not storing it for extended period of time -- but the data is collected. You can do this kind of tracking in a two ways: the right and the wrong.

To do it right way, you use temporary identifiers (GSM network uses them anyway) that are anonymious and drop all routes that have too few mobile phones; like if you are living in a rural area and are the only one that takes specific route. After you have made analysis, you drop also temporary identifiers. This does not introduce any more privacy problems than normal operation of cell phone network.

You can get all the information you want to estimate traffic jams with this method.

Of course, you may want to do it wrong way and collect also phone numbers, called numbers and even record calls that are made. Very usefull, if driwing when talking is prohibited in your area. That is something a national security will need :-). Thus EFF should be worried about this.

Ahhh, I see what's going on! (1)

Arcturax (454188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070450)

I was thinking, "Well gee, all you have to to is... turn them off!" Then I realized that maybe that's what they are hoping. It's certainly what I hope this makes people do.

Really fast cars (1)

Alworx (885008) | more than 8 years ago | (#14070462)

I hope they remember to "flag" those guys flying into town with their cell phones switch on...

especially since the FCC decided to allow this...

I've got it! (1)

Phredd (15463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14071107)

We can use cell phones to monitor traffic flow!!!!!

A severed foot is the ultimate stocking stuffer.

No more POLICE RADAR. (1)

Drexus (826859) | more than 8 years ago | (#14071378)

What is the chance that the Police will use this system for speeders? I bet they would just love this new little trick. In fact, I don't think the true reason for this technology is for traffic management. The gains for running this project for traffic regulation benefits nobody's pocketbook. But, if law enforcement could use it as proof on speeders, then it all makes sense! They would know who you are, where you are going, where you were, how fast you were going at a specific time when no police were around... all without even being there. Heck, they can just mail you your ticket along with your cell phone bill!

how do they know... (1)

TwicK80 (828808) | more than 8 years ago | (#14071535)

...that I'm in my car? In Chicago, trains run down alongside the expressways, how can they tell the difference between the people on the train, people waiting at a train station, and the people actually driving?

Privacy (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14071561)

Well the privacy problem remains even if this story has been posted already a zillion times.
We only need to convince ourself that the world can go fine even if we turn that cell phone offAs well as our life!

Sigh. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14072006)

I think it's about time to let Faraday out of his cage.

Sequence of events (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14072354)

If this system follows the path of other surveillance systems implemented in the past few years, here is the likely sequence of events:

1. System is installed as they say, with each cell phone assigned a random number simply to keep track of the handoff. System works wonderfully, traffic is monitored at a fraction of the cost of installing cameras and road sensors. Government hails the effort as a success, touted as saving millions to taxpayers

2. Another "Beltway Sniper" or the like causes widespread panic and terror. The general public is stirred up by this.

3. A proposal is made by the government or contract to identify them by their cell phone. By identifying the cell phone ECNs that were present at each incident they hope to narrow to a suspect. As it happens, the system has been consistently undergoing upgrades in the background, with the ability to archive for the purpose of "studies" to improve the algorithms. The infrastructure is also in place to actually track individual ECNs, all that is needed is a software upgrade. The public is informed that the system will normally assign random identification numbers to all cell phones tracked, but for the purpose of law inforcement, there will be the ability to bypass this to obtain the real ECN. This feature will only be available to a few law enforcement officials.

4. Privacy advocates rail at this, among them the EFF and ACLU. They are vehemently dismissed as being on the side of terrorists and criminals.

5. The software is upgraded, and now the system can identify unique ECNs. The sniper/etc is caught, and the government hails it as a victory for the people. The public applauds the government for their ingenuity, and happily go about their lives with their cell phones tracked and uniquely linked to them. All naysayers are declared on the side of terrorism.

6. Being tracked like that is now the role of a good citizen. If you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn't mind being tracked.

Once the system they propose is there, there's nothing to say it won't be upgraded over time so that it's a simple matter to track individuals through their cell phones. Then, it's just a matter of waiting for the right disaster to justify to the public that it's in their best interests to throw the switch.

FIRE ZONK NOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14072889)

THIS IS FUCKKING OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!!!!!! DOES THIS ZONK ASSHOLE EVER READ THE SITE?!? THIS IS THE LAST STRAW I WILL NOT READ /. AGAIN!

This site has really gone downhill the last couple of years. Seemslike every other post is a dupe. There has yet to be coverage of the very important blogger case of Elsebeth Baumgartner [erievoices.com] . It hasn't even been covered! It's time for everyone to get their news and discussion somewhere else.

What about traffic light cameras? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14073960)

What about these damn cameras on top of every traffic light?
"that information will be used for more invasive purposes in the future."

"it's just for monitoring traffic" ,then you see them on streets that don't matter at all and never get any traffic. WTF????

Where's the EFF on that one?

how many flippin times are we gonna post this? (1)

Thecarpe (697076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14080878)

This is the third time this article has been presented in as many months. Yes, I can hear you now.

Funny enough, the word/image that I had to type in to get my article posted was "unneeded".
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