The Truth About Cars » Privacy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 18 Oct 2014 16:29:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Privacy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/privacy/ Google’s Autonomous Car Drives Sans Passenger, Hides Behind Security http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/googles-autonomous-car-drives-sans-passenger-hides-behind-security/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/googles-autonomous-car-drives-sans-passenger-hides-behind-security/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927994 Remember when Google wanted to keep its autonomous-car crash interventions under wraps? The tech giant is now keeping some of its testing private, as well, as its cars are driving around with no human aboard. According to Forbes, onlookers at a park near Google’s Mountain View, Calif. caught sight of the company’s car sans passengers, […]

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Remember when Google wanted to keep its autonomous-car crash interventions under wraps? The tech giant is now keeping some of its testing private, as well, as its cars are driving around with no human aboard.

According to Forbes, onlookers at a park near Google’s Mountain View, Calif. caught sight of the company’s car sans passengers, but were ushered aside by security so as no hard evidence of testing could be posted online.

As for why the commuter pod was tooling around with no soul to keep tabs on its progress, a likely idea, according to writer Mark Rogowsky, is an autonomous taxi being used by transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft whenever the car’s owner isn’t using it. A report by Morgan Stanley cited by Rogowsky states that a car is used for only 52 minutes per day, sitting idle the rest of the time. Were a vehicle to be put into service by a TNC, it would see more road time, providing more transportation options in so doing.

Though Google isn’t in a rush to bring a product online tomorrow, automakers like General Motors, Mercedes and Tesla will press ahead with partial-autonomy tech, which could arrive as soon as 2016. Meanwhile, the main piece in the puzzle — a 360-degree laser — continues to fall in price, recently dropping from $85,000 to $7,999. Rogowsky believes another 80 percent to 90 percent price cut will come in the near-future, helping to reduce the overall cost of autonomy.

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Metaxas: License Plate Recognition Can Improve Originations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/metaxas-license-plate-recognition-can-improve-originations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/metaxas-license-plate-recognition-can-improve-originations/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=922465 Aside from GPS-equipped starter interrupt systems, lenders have another tool to repossess a vehicle, with the added benefit of using the data obtained to acquire better contracts: license plate recognition. According to Auto Remarketing, the CEO of Fort Worth, Texas-based Digital Recognition Network, Chris Metaxas, says his company’s LPR technology has found 55 percent of […]

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DRN LPR Guide

Aside from GPS-equipped starter interrupt systems, lenders have another tool to repossess a vehicle, with the added benefit of using the data obtained to acquire better contracts: license plate recognition.

According to Auto Remarketing, the CEO of Fort Worth, Texas-based Digital Recognition Network, Chris Metaxas, says his company’s LPR technology has found 55 percent of their customers’ assets up to 100 miles away from where the paperwork claimed the vehicle would have originally been. As most assets are with the lenders’ customers, any deviation from that is a red flag.

Thus, originators seeking to minimize risk could use LPR data to “determine the truth of a statement someone may make on an application,” in turn enhancing the process so better contracts are entered into a given portfolio:

If you think about what a bank does in translating risk mitigation into their ability to grow their book of business, the loans they write, the policies they write, it is substantial and is exponential. What you lose on the back end is only a fraction of what you write on the front end.

Earlier this year, DRN and another LPR company entered into a lawsuit against Utah governor Gary Herbert and attorney general Sean Reyes over First Amendment issues regarding legislation that prohibited such technology from being used to analyze the image of the license plate in question. The lawsuit is part of an ongoing battle between privacy advocates who claim the private data tied to a plate can have the potential to be abused, and by LPR proponents like DRN who believe license plate numbers contain no such thing, citing the public nature of the plate itself.

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Valet Mode Data Recorder In 2015 Corvettes Could Bring Legal Trouble For Some http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/valet-mode-data-recorder-2015-corvettes-bring-legal-trouble/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/valet-mode-data-recorder-2015-corvettes-bring-legal-trouble/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 10:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921601 Not too long ago, General Motors brought comfort to many a new 2015 Corvette Stingray owner with a feature that would do for them what teddy-bear cams did for concerned parents, recording audio, video and vehicle data when the key was given to the valet. Alas, the spyware could land the owner in legal hot […]

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Not too long ago, General Motors brought comfort to many a new 2015 Corvette Stingray owner with a feature that would do for them what teddy-bear cams did for concerned parents, recording audio, video and vehicle data when the key was given to the valet. Alas, the spyware could land the owner in legal hot water in a dozen states, to say the least.

Automotive News reports GM and Chevrolet will send a software update in October to address the problems that could await owners in two-party states — California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington — were the data recorder used without the consent of the valet. The automaker also notified dealers to inform their customers to not use the system until the update goes through.

The proposed fix could include removing audio recording from the feature, adding a warning informing valets that they’re being recorded, or another method under consideration.

Another notification, signed by GM senior vice president for global quality and customer experience Alicia Boler-Davis, instructs customers to refrain from using the valet mode, or to inform the valet they would be recorded upon taking the car, and to “obtain their consent.”

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Lenders Monitor, Control Subprime Nexum Via Connected Vehicle Tech http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/lenders-monitor-control-subprime-nexum-via-connected-vehicle-tech/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/lenders-monitor-control-subprime-nexum-via-connected-vehicle-tech/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 14:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=920098 In a perverse nexus where connected-vehicle technology, privacy and subprime lending intersect, consumers who fall behind on so much as a single payment, or even stray outside a given teritory, may find their vehicles shutdown by their lender from a digital panopticon. The New York Times reports that some subprime borrowers — a group that […]

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Isis Panopticon Album Cover

In a perverse nexus where connected-vehicle technology, privacy and subprime lending intersect, consumers who fall behind on so much as a single payment, or even stray outside a given teritory, may find their vehicles shutdown by their lender from a digital panopticon.

The New York Times reports that some subprime borrowers — a group that made up a quarter of all new car loans in 2013 — must agree to have a GPS-equipped starter interrupt device installed in the vehicle of a given borrower’s choosing. In turn, the lender can keep track of where its property — and the borrower — is at all times, and with a single tap or click, cut all power to the vehicle if a borrower falls behind on payments.

However, some lenders are choosing to act only days after a missed payment — instead of the 30-day grace period before a borrower is considered in-default — no matter where exactly the vehicle is at the moment of shutdown. This has led to situations where a borrower has been stranded in a bad neighborhood, at the stop light, or, in one case, on the freeway.

Further, some loan agreements include so-called “geo-fences”: a maximum range a subprime borrower can travel before the lender, again, shuts down a vehicle and sends a tow truck to recover the asset. The claim is that a borrower who travels further than the fence allows — such as to their place of employment — may not be able to make good on their payments.

The consequences of using the devices have drawn considerable attention from both consumer lawyers and state regulators. The former argue starter interrupt systems give a lender all the more reason to remotely repossess a vehicle if even a payment is missed by a day, violating state laws on the matter as a result. The latter, in turn, is examining the potential safety hazards for the borrower and other motorists if the devices become defective.

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Privacy Concerns By Auto Lenders Shape SEC Asset-Backed Security Rule http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/privacy-concerns-auto-lenders-shape-sec-asset-backed-security-rule/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/privacy-concerns-auto-lenders-shape-sec-asset-backed-security-rule/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=918546 It took four years, but the Securities and Exchange Commission has put the final touches on a rule regarding asset-backed securities — including auto loans and leases — and what information is given when a company or investor takes on an ABS. Juan Barnett of DC Car Geek reports the work on the rule began […]

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SEC - Securities and Exchange Commission HQ

It took four years, but the Securities and Exchange Commission has put the final touches on a rule regarding asset-backed securities — including auto loans and leases — and what information is given when a company or investor takes on an ABS.

Juan Barnett of DC Car Geek reports the work on the rule began in 2010, re-proposed with the inclusion of Dodd-Frank Act requirements in 2011, and brought up for consideration again earlier this year. Barnett adds that a total of 240 comments — the majority from financial institutions — were submitted to the SEC in the same period.

As far as the automotive finance industry goes, a consortium dubbed Vehicle ABS Sponsors delivered a 97-page comment in 2012, bringing up numerous concerns about the rule.

One concern in particular focused on privacy issues. Were the then-proposed framework to be enacted, the consortium feared competitors from within and outside the ABS market would use the massive amounts of data collected by its members to upend the industry as a whole:

Ordinarily, we would consider someone appropriating our data to be wrongfully taking our private property and harming us in the marketplace. We think it is highly inappropriate for a government-mandated program to permit, and indeed facilitate, this practice.

Earlier this year, SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar acknowledged those and similar concerns, suggesting those who do participate in the ABS market “simply follow the statute and require disclosure of asset-level data only if such data is necessary for investors to independently perform due diligence.”

Thanks to a rule modification regarding the sharing of loan-level data, both sides of the ABS game — issuers and investors — can use a private database to talk amongst themselves. Previously, the data would have been made readily available through the SEC’s public database, EDGAR.

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Real-Time Data May Lead To Greater Automated Law Enforcement http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/real-time-data-may-lead-greater-automated-law-enforcement/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/real-time-data-may-lead-greater-automated-law-enforcement/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 11:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917562 Presently, V2V (vehicle to vehicle) and V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) technologies are meant to allow a vehicle so-equipped to better navigate its surroundings, and to exchange data with other vehicles like it. If law enforcement has its way, however, the red and blue lights in the rearview mirror could soon give way to the electric […]

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V2V

Presently, V2V (vehicle to vehicle) and V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) technologies are meant to allow a vehicle so-equipped to better navigate its surroundings, and to exchange data with other vehicles like it. If law enforcement has its way, however, the red and blue lights in the rearview mirror could soon give way to the electric eye of automated enforcement.

Autoblog reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledges as much in the agency’s report on the technologies. Though the current framework isn’t meant for law enforcement, and data transmitted by current intelligent transport systems don’t provide enough to link speeding calculations to drivers, deputy administrator David Friedman says the possibility is there:

I know there is potential for law enforcement to optimize some of these things, but if we go too far, too fast in that direction, it could create some consumer backlash that could hurt its adoption. The technology is there, but our initial design is not focused on that.

Of course, automated enforcement wouldn’t obtain its information from ITS data alone, as it would augment a whole assortment of tools meant to nail speeders. Phoenix-based RedFlex is developing a camera network that would measure one’s speed between two points, while Colorado-based Laser Technology Inc. is building a dual laser/camera system that will both calculate speed and record video of the offender.

That said, the allure of real-time data may prove too great to contain on the enforcement front, putting the onus on the consumer to maintain vigilance in keeping data private, as National Motorists Association communications director John Bowman explains:

I hope people start to take notice of this stuff. We’re essentially tracked everywhere we go in almost everything we do. If people don’t push back against it like they’ve started to do with red-light cameras, I just think people will be surprised when they wake up one day and realize they have no privacy left.

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Virginia Company Unveils Text-Detection Device http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/virginia-company-unveils-text-detection-device/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/virginia-company-unveils-text-detection-device/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 12:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916050 From the commonwealth where radar detectors are verboten, and speeding has more in common with sex crimes than physical graffiti, a local company has developed a device that can detect the sort of signals a phone might emit when its owner is texting. The Virginian-Pilot reports ComSonics of Harrisonburg, Va. has tweaked technology used by […]

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Fairfax County Virginia Police + Radar Gun

From the commonwealth where radar detectors are verboten, and speeding has more in common with sex crimes than physical graffiti, a local company has developed a device that can detect the sort of signals a phone might emit when its owner is texting.

The Virginian-Pilot reports ComSonics of Harrisonburg, Va. has tweaked technology used by cable repairmen to find damaged wiring to detect transmission data from a phone sending a text. The device, as explained by calibration services manager Malcolm McIntyre, can differentiate between texting, phone calls and data transmissions by frequency.

Though the text-detecting device is “close to production,” according to McIntyre, privacy concerns, legislative red tape, and adoption by law enforcement are likely to slow down progress for now.

Virginia commonwealth law states phone calls by drivers are legal, while texting is illegal. Should the device enter into the fight, however, enforcement of the law may become more muddied, since anyone in a given vehicle could be sending texts; the device likely will not be able to nail down the exact position of the transmission.

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Google Wanted Autonomous Vehicle Driver Interventions Kept Quiet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/google-wanted-autonomous-vehicle-driver-interventions-kept-quiet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/google-wanted-autonomous-vehicle-driver-interventions-kept-quiet/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=899122 In the entire time Google has been working on delivering an autonomous future upon the driving populace, only one accident was reported, and was caused by human error. That said, the tech giant would prefer you not to know that or of any similar future incidents. Through a FOIA request, Quartz reports Google lobbied California’s […]

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In the entire time Google has been working on delivering an autonomous future upon the driving populace, only one accident was reported, and was caused by human error. That said, the tech giant would prefer you not to know that or of any similar future incidents.

Through a FOIA request, Quartz reports Google lobbied California’s state government for amendments to traffic safety legislation that would, in the words of the company’s director of safety Ron Medford, “limit required reporting to accidents involving vehicles operated in autonomous mode.” The company also wanted language removed that obligated it to report “disengagements” — when the car returns control to the driver — to the government, citing lack of relevance regarding vehicle safety.

Though the state’s DMV wants this data for future driver testing when the day of the autonomous vehicle comes, Medford claimed the reporting would create “a significant burden on manufacturers” and the DMV, especially since the agency did not have “the engineering expertise to interpret the data.”

Other concerns Google wanted the state legislature to address included the fear of trade secrets going public — and to its rivals — as well as the possibility for test drivers to simply leave all of the driving to the car than to disengage even once. The company found support from General Motors, Chrysler, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, all wondering what the fuss was about regarding autonomous vehicle testing and reporting obligations.

The California DMV did excuse manufacturers from reporting every disengagement — only those linked to safety reasons will now be reported to the agency — but did want everything else related to autonomous driving. Google, for its part, was disappointed “that the vast majority” of its comments were ignored.

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NHTSA 2016 V2V Proposal Open For Public Comment http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/nhtsa-2016-v2v-proposal-open-public-comment/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/nhtsa-2016-v2v-proposal-open-public-comment/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=897786 As reported earlier, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration unveiled plans to mandate vehicle-to-vehicle technology within the next few years through a proposal that could take just as long to make it through Congress. Since then, more details and reactions about the V2V proposal have come out. Autoblog reports the plan, which will be available […]

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V2V Intersection

As reported earlier, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration unveiled plans to mandate vehicle-to-vehicle technology within the next few years through a proposal that could take just as long to make it through Congress. Since then, more details and reactions about the V2V proposal have come out.

Autoblog reports the plan, which will be available for public comment for the next 60 days, points to two specific applications of V2V that could prevent as many as 592,000 accidents and 1,083 fatalities annually by 2020 if implemented: left-turn assist and intersection-movement detection systems. The agency also adds V2V could be used to aid with detecting blind spots, alert drivers regarding forward collision, and warn them when not to pass on the road. Many of these systems are already in modern vehicles, where radar and similar technologies help in functionality.

As far as the potential for hacking is concerned, the NHTSA stated V2V data transmitted would only be used in enhancing driver safety, with “several layers” of protection keeping hackers at bay. In turn, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement that the Federal Communications Commission should reserve certain frequencies for V2V communication in the early phases of development “until it is definitively established that sharing will not interfere with the safety of the driving public.”

In addition to V2V, vehicle-to-infrastructure communication is in the proposal, allowing for vehicles to talk to roads and other pieces of infrastructure for safety purposes.

The proposal is set to make its run toward becoming law beginning in 2016 at the earliest.

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Android Auto vs. Apple CarPlay vs. Your Precious Bodily Fluids http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/android-auto-vs-apple-carplay-vs-your-precious-bodily-fluids/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/android-auto-vs-apple-carplay-vs-your-precious-bodily-fluids/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 11:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=853505 At yesterday’s Google I/O keynote speech, Google laid out its vision for Android Auto (reported here yesterday), which is quite similar to Apple’s CarPlay. I’ve ranted here before about Apple’s CarPlay when it was first announced and after more details came out last March. Both have the idea that your phone can hijack the screen in […]

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tumblr_m9hum9gnmd1rsen2io1_500At yesterday’s Google I/O keynote speech, Google laid out its vision for Android Auto (reported here yesterday), which is quite similar to Apple’s CarPlay. I’ve ranted here before about Apple’s CarPlay when it was first announced and after more details came out last March. Both have the idea that your phone can hijack the screen in your car. What’s newsworthy from Google is that we have an enlarged list of vendors who are playing along. (Wired has the full list. Suffice to say that you’ll have plenty of choices if you want a car that goes both ways, if you know what I mean. Most interesting factoid: Tesla isn’t playing with either Apple or Google. Hear that? It’s the sounds of thousands of alpha-nerd Tesla owners crying out in terror.)

Today, I want to address why you should stop worrying and learn to love having your phone in charge of your car’s telematics display.

Using most computer crap in cars will kill you. I’ve had enough of people arguing about BMW i-Drive vs. Audi MMI vs. giant Tesla touchscreens vs. your smartphone. You all don’t get it. They’re all part of a Communist plot to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids. Or at least distract us and get us into horrific driving accidents. When you’re driving, you should have your hands on the wheel, or your passenger’s thigh. No, no, definitely on the wheel.

But some computer crap in cars is exceptionally valuable. When you’re driving somewhere new, nav systems are great. Even if you’re driving somewhere you go all the time, modern nav systems like Waze give you real-time user-reported intel on the traffic and even where the speed traps are. But how do Waze drivers report speed traps? They press tiny buttons on the phone and promptly create new accidents for other Waze drivers to report.

So how can you use a computer in your car safely? What we’ve seen so far from the automakers is largely a massive failure on this front. BMW’s iDrive, no matter how much they simplify it, is still an abomination upon humanity. Tesla’s giant and beautiful touchscreen, much like the Chevy Volt and other new cars that don’t have real buttons any more, require you to look for the button you’re trying to press. Prior attempts at voice recognition are laughably inaccurate, particularly once the car is moving at freeway speed and you’ve got wind noise and tire noise, never mind a blaring stereo. What’s left? The thing that Google seems to get, and you know Apple will copy it a year later and claim they invented first, is that they have all this knowledge about you. Your calendar has your destination address right next to your appointment. And they know where you live and where you drive every day on your commute. Why is this a good thing? Because Google will (hopefully) be very good at guessing what you’re up to and will just do it with little or no user intervention at all. When you do need to use your voice to tell your nav system what to do, or what music you want to play, you’ll get the benefit of Google’s backend data center megabrain which can do a way better job of figuring out what you’re talking about than the puny computer in your car or phone. Why? Because it’s got context. If you’re trying to navigate to a some business, it’s going to compare your vocal garble to the names of local destinations, especially if you did a Google search on your computer beforehand or your buddy emailed you the address. If you’re trying to play some hipster indie band, it’s going to look at the names in your library and in its “people who like X tend to like Y” megabrain graph. Smaller search space = higher recognition accuracy.

But I don’t trust the Google megabrain with my precious privacy fluids. We are rapidly approaching a moment of truth, both for ourselves as human beings and for the life of our nation. Now, truth is not always a pleasant thing, but the fact is that you’re already telling Google, Apple, the NSA, OkCupid, and the fiendish fluoridators far too much about yourself. It’s a huge pain to keep apps from profiling you, but you can do it if you insist. (I use the totally not user-friendly XPrivacy. My proposed solution for the real world: government regulation. But I digress.) For the rest of us, there’s a tradeoff. You give up some privacy. In return you get something. Maybe that something is a free version of some game. You could pay $1 and get the advertising-free version. But do you pay that dollar? No? That’s how little you truly value your own privacy.

When you use Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, or Microsoft Win9 Cartopia Enterprise Edition, you’re indeed giving up some privacy, but look at what you’re getting back. You’re getting good stuff. For a great price.

How will we ultimately trade our privacy for all these great features? Will Google crack down on apps’ ability to learn totally unnecessarily personal things about you? (There is a new feature in Android “L” that’s supposed to help with this.) Will government regulators ultimately crack down on Google? We’ll see. Now let’s get this thing on the hump — we got some flyin’ to do.

Dr._Strangelove_-_Riding_the_Bomb

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GM China Introduces Plate-Scanning App For Driver-To-Driver Texting http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/gm-china-introduces-plate-scanning-app-for-driver-to-driver-texting/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/gm-china-introduces-plate-scanning-app-for-driver-to-driver-texting/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 13:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=845849 Ever been cut-off by a driver and wanted to let them know exactly how you feel without the need for a PIT bumper? Did you happen to see someone attractive pass you by, but didn’t want to be as obvious as Clark Griswold about it? If you’re in China, General Motors is about to make […]

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Chinese-English Stop Sign

Ever been cut-off by a driver and wanted to let them know exactly how you feel without the need for a PIT bumper? Did you happen to see someone attractive pass you by, but didn’t want to be as obvious as Clark Griswold about it? If you’re in China, General Motors is about to make that dream come true in the creepiest way possible.

ComputerWorld reports GM China R&D director John Du introduced an Android app called DiDi Plate before attendees at this year’s Telematics Detroit 2014. The app uses an Android smartphone’s camera to snap a photo of a license plate, which then uploads the info gathered into the cloud so that the driver can then connect with the other driver via cell.

The creeper part? Du explains it best:

Even if the other driver didn’t register this app, you can still give them greetings and comments.

Du added that the app can also be used with Google Glass, allowing the driver to simply look at a license plate to find the other’s personal online profile prior to arranging a date, telling them to move their car so the driver can get out, or telling them off as far as their driving skills are concerned.

However, GM would like DiDi Plate to be embedded in a connected-vehicle environment rather than reside on the driver’s smartphone of choice; thus, the app may not make it out of the prototype phase in time to warn the car ahead that they missed the stop sign, among other, more personal actions.

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Data Privacy Concerns Rise Within Connected-Car Industry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/data-privacy-concerns-rise-within-connected-car-industry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/data-privacy-concerns-rise-within-connected-car-industry/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=838401 As more vehicles come with infotainment systems mounted in the dashboard console, consumers are beginning to face the issue of losing privacy behind the driver’s seat. The Detroit News reports data from a vehicle so equipped is collected every time the ignition is turned, from where one fills up their tank and stomach, to how […]

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2013 RAM 3500 Interior, uConnect 8.4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

As more vehicles come with infotainment systems mounted in the dashboard console, consumers are beginning to face the issue of losing privacy behind the driver’s seat.

The Detroit News reports data from a vehicle so equipped is collected every time the ignition is turned, from where one fills up their tank and stomach, to how fast one drives and their preference for doing so. While the data goes back to the automaker in question, there are few security measures as to who all is allowed to view — and use — the data for their own needs. Strategy Analytics associate director Roger Lanctot explains:

(Your car’s) presumably tracking you all the time. Somewhere along the way we need to have a better understanding because right now, the reason why it feels like the Wild West is that it’s so open. You’re basically letting the carmaker gather whatever data it wants and share it with whoever, including marketing partners and law enforcement.

His concerns were voiced during the keynote speech before attendees of this year’s Telematics Detroit 2014 in Novi, Mich. as part of a day devoted to privacy and security with automotive infotainment and diagnostics technology. Though the focus comes in light of knowledge of the National Security Agency’s overreaching hand upon U.S. citizens, a survey found some of the attendees weren’t too concerned over what their car tells anyone else. Others, however, were more worried about their car pulling a GLaDOS on the highway in traffic.

Lanctot believes consumers will have “a privacy button” in their vehicles down the road, which would at the very least provide transparency on who exactly sees the information in any given vehicle. The feature would, in turn, empower the consumer with control on their information and instill trust with the automaker at the other end of the signal.

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Homeland Security License Plate Data Collection Plan Cancelled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/homeland-security-license-plate-data-collection-plan-cancelled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/homeland-security-license-plate-data-collection-plan-cancelled/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 16:02:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=751089 A plan to create a database from collected license plate data by the Department of Homeland Security was cancelled after said plans were made known without knowledge from top officials. AOL Autos reports the plan, which would have sought bids from private companies to build the database, would have helped Immigration and Customs Enforcement in […]

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A plan to create a database from collected license plate data by the Department of Homeland Security was cancelled after said plans were made known without knowledge from top officials.

AOL Autos reports the plan, which would have sought bids from private companies to build the database, would have helped Immigration and Customs Enforcement in combating criminal activity. Privacy advocates, however, feared such a database would also collect plate data from millions of law-abiding citizens.

Through a statement, the ICE explained that the solicitation was made public without prior knowledge from the department’s top officials:

While we continue to support a range of technologies to help meet our law enforcement mission, this solicitation will be reviewed to ensure the path forward appropriately meets our operational needs.

The method for collecting license plate data — license-plate scanners — is already a subject near and dear to both law enforcement and privacy groups for months, fearing the data could be used to spy on the populace for governmental and business purposes. According to Associated Press, 14 states are working on legislation that would curb the practice.

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Jim Farley Backtracks On FoMoCo Tracking Drivers, GAO: Automakers Retain GPS Data http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/jim-farley-backtracks-on-fomoco-tracking-drivers-gao-automakers-retain-gps-data/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/jim-farley-backtracks-on-fomoco-tracking-drivers-gao-automakers-retain-gps-data/#comments Fri, 10 Jan 2014 04:49:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=696161 Ford’s marketing head Jim Farley apologized on Thursday for remarks he made at the Consumer Electronics Show the day before saying that the automaker tracks their customers via their cars’ navigation systems. He said that Ford knows where and when customers drive their vehicles but doesn’t share or sell that data outside the company. “We […]

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Ford’s marketing head Jim Farley apologized on Thursday for remarks he made at the Consumer Electronics Show the day before saying that the automaker tracks their customers via their cars’ navigation systems. He said that Ford knows where and when customers drive their vehicles but doesn’t share or sell that data outside the company.

“We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it,” Farley said, according to a report in Business Insider. “We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing. By the way, we don’t supply that data to anyone.”

After Farley’s remarks at the CES propagated, Ford Motor Company spokesman Wes Sherwood denied that the company tracked drivers’ movements. “Ford is absolutely committed to protecting our customers’ privacy. We do not track our customers. No data is transmitted from the vehicle without the customer’s express consent.”

That may be so, but technically customers give consent when they use a navigation or voice-activated system.

Backtracking in a CNBC interview on Thursday, Farley apologized and said that he’d given the wrong impression. “We don’t monitor, aggregate data on how people drive. I’ve given people the wrong impression, I regret that,” he said.

Farley told Business Insider that his remarks at the CES were hypothetical. “I absolutely left the wrong impression about how Ford operates. We do not track our customers in their cars without their approval or their consent. The statement I made in my eyes was hypothetical and I want to clear this up. I want to make it super-clear because this is very important to Ford — I’m the last person who wants to misportray this to our customers.”

The brouhaha over the use of GPS and other data collected by cars comes as AAA this week urged car companies to protect that data and as a U.S. government report found that major automakers are indeed keeping travel data from vehicles’ onboard navigation systems.

“The data that today can be routinely collected by cars includes some of the most sensitive data that can be collected about a person, including information about their precise location and driving habits,” said Bob Darbelnet, president and CEO of AAA.

The Government Accountability Office released a report on Monday that found that major automakers are keeping information collected from vehicles’ navigation systems, though they have differing policies about what data they collect and how long they store it.

There are legitimate reasons why an automaker would need data about a car’s location, such as providing traffic information, the location of the nearest filling station, emergency roadside assistance, and tracking stolen vehicles. The GAO report did find that, “If companies retained data, they did not allow consumers to request that their data be deleted, which is a recommended practice.”

The GAO study looked at the practices of GM, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan as well as navigation system makers Garmin and TomTom was well as applications like Google Maps and Telenav. Policies of individual companies were not identified. The report did say that car companies had taken some steps to insure privacy including not selling the personal data.

Privacy advocates have expressed concern that collating, selling or sharing vehicle location data could result in consumers being tracked, stalked or spied upon as well as being the victims of identity theft.

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Section 1201 and Automotive DRM: The Future is Locked http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/section-1201-and-automotive-drm-the-future-is-locked/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/section-1201-and-automotive-drm-the-future-is-locked/#comments Fri, 15 Nov 2013 15:15:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=652002 This is the Renault Zoe. It’s like most EVs on the road, with its limited range, limited power, and limited usability. Unlike the other EVs, however, the Zoe comes with DRM attached to its battery pack. In short: If you value your ability to drive the Zoe at all, then you will submit to a […]

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Renault Zoe

This is the Renault Zoe. It’s like most EVs on the road, with its limited range, limited power, and limited usability.

Unlike the other EVs, however, the Zoe comes with DRM attached to its battery pack. In short: If you value your ability to drive the Zoe at all, then you will submit to a rental contract with the pack’s manufacturer. Should you fail to pay the rent or your lease term expires, Renault can and will turn your Zoe into an expensive, useless paperweight by preventing the pack’s ability to be recharged, consequences be damned.

It’s only the beginning.

Ever since the Digital Millennium Copyright Act came into force in 1998, one particular section has managed to do more damage to innovation than to protect the innovators: Section 1201:

No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.

The application of Section 1201 in the past has led to actions such as: The delay in disclosing copy-protection vulnerability found in Sony’s CDs; takedown notices issued by Hewlitt-Packard to researchers for publishing a security flaw in the former’s Tru64 UNIX OS; Lexmark suing anyone who sells aftermarket refilled toner cartridges; and even displacing laws meant to deal with hacking and electronic intrusion, such as the Wiretap and Electronic Communications Privacy acts.

Regarding DRM, many a gamer has experienced their favorite games rendered unplayable because the online component — having reached its end-of-life phase and, thus, the creator no longer supports the software — can no longer be authenticated. So, imagine Zoe owners one day going to work or to visit their grandmother on her death bed when, because Renault decided to no longer support the battery pack nor verify new packs, not being able to start their car. They can’t resell the EV on the used car market, and thus, can’t make some of their $23,000 back on their purchase.

Or worse, imagine if a Zoe driver and their friends were going to a major protest — like the one that led to the Battle of Seattle, for example — only to find their government told Renault to “block” charging of the pack to hinder either their progress to the action or allow the police to “say hello,” as it were.

And of course, let’s say a Zoe owner is the target of a sociopath. They bribe a Renault employee for access to the DRM through social engineering, find “the bitch” who left them, shutdown the battery at home… you can see where this is going.

Now, imagine it happening here with the theorhetical (for now) autonomous commuter pod of 2025 your sons and daughters may end up “piloting.”

At present, Representative Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., is leading a bipartisan charge to bring about the Unlocking Technology Act, designed to limit the overzealous use of the DMCA and Section 1201 to cases where real intellectual property infringement has occurred. Should this bill become law, it would go a long way to preventing the abuses that have hindered progress elsewhere from infecting the automotive industry any further.

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ACLU Says License Plate Scanning Widespread, With Few Controls On Collected Data http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/aclu-says-license-plate-scanning-widespread-with-few-controls-on-collected-data/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/aclu-says-license-plate-scanning-widespread-with-few-controls-on-collected-data/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2013 14:49:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=495816 TTAC has recently addressed the issue of police using scanning technology to read license plates and then store their street locations. When the story broke, it centered on a few counties in Northern California, but the American Civil Liberties Union has just released documents that show that the practice is widespread across the United States […]

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TTAC has recently addressed the issue of police using scanning technology to read license plates and then store their street locations. When the story broke, it centered on a few counties in Northern California, but the American Civil Liberties Union has just released documents that show that the practice is widespread across the United States and that few of the police agencies or private companies that are scanning license plates and storing that data, making it possible to retroactively track drivers, have any meaningful rules in place to protect drivers’ privacy. There are few controls on how the collected data is accessed and used. The documents reveal that many police departments keep the information on millions of people’s locations for years, or even indefinitely, whether or not they are suspected of a crime. Data on tens of millions of drivers is being logged and stored.

ACLU Staff Attorney Catherine Crump, the report’s lead author said, “The spread of these scanners is creating what are, in effect, government location tracking systems recording the movements of many millions of innocent Americans in huge databases. We don’t object to the use of these systems to flag cars that are stolen or belong to fugitives, but these documents show a dire need for rules to make sure that this technology isn’t used for unbridled government surveillance.”

With the help of chapters in 38 states, the ACLU compiled 26,000 pages of documents based on nearly 600 Freedom of Information Act requests submitted to federal, state and local agencies, asking how those agencies use license plate readers and how they manage the data collected. Approximately 300 police departments’ policies were reviewed. According to the civil liberties group, only a minuscule fraction of the scanned plates are used to solve crimes. In Maryland, for example, only 47 out of every million plates scanned (0.005%) were even potentially associated with auto theft or a person wanted for a serious crime.

The issue is not restricted to government agencies. There’s no expectation of privacy in public and for-profit companies can also set up scanners on vehicles or in fixed locations, also without having to protect how that information is used. A firm named Vigilant Solutions has over 800 million registration plate location records. Over 2,200 police agencies, including the Dept. of Homeland Security, pay Vigilant Solutions for access to their data.

The ACLU has suggested a number of specific policies regarding license plate scanning to make sure that nobody’s rights are being infringed. Those recommendations include: that a reasonable suspicion that a crime has taken place must exist before police can examine the information, unless there is a specific legitimate reason for record retention, the scanning data should be automatically deleted within weeks, or days if possible, and people should have the right to know if their cars’ location information has been stored in a law enforcement data base.

You can read the full ACLU report here. Interactive slide show here

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Tesla vs. The New York Times: Let’s Check The Logs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/tesla-vs-the-new-york-times-lets-check-the-logs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/tesla-vs-the-new-york-times-lets-check-the-logs/#comments Fri, 15 Feb 2013 11:17:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=477598 Pull up a chair, get some popcorn. The fireworks have been flying fast and furious. New York Times reporter John Broder wrote a piece about his press loaner Tesla running out of juice. Tesla, already smarting from the perceived slight given them by BBC’s Top Gear, decided they needed an ace up their sleeve: data logging. […]

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Pull up a chair, get some popcorn. The fireworks have been flying fast and furious. New York Times reporter John Broder wrote a piece about his press loaner Tesla running out of juice. Tesla, already smarting from the perceived slight given them by BBC’s Top Gear, decided they needed an ace up their sleeve: data logging. Chairman Elon Musk penned a response that included detailed data logs from the press car. Broder responded in general terms and then with a point-by-point response to Musk’s charges. The NYT’s public editor, Margaret Sullivan, has also chimed in with the opening of her own investigation. Notably, Musk hasn’t returned her calls. Her tentative conclusion? “I reject Mr. Musk’s central contention that Mr. Broder’s Sunday piece was faked in order to sabotage the Model S or the electric-car industry.” She also called for Tesla to release all the data they’ve got in proper machine-readable form, not just their pretty annotated graphs with the circles and the arrows and the paragraph on the back of each one.

Readers are welcome to read all the back and forth and come to their own conclusion. You can read lots of smart technical people trying to reconcile both stories at this Hacker News thread. The AtlanticWire has a reasonably concise pro-Broder analysis if you don’t want to wade through a comment thread. Also, Consumer Report’s recent article and members of the independent-of-Tesla owner’s forum seem to be corroborating some of the cold-weather battery issues raised by Broder’s original piece.

Instead of going any further down that path, let’s instead talk some more about this data logging business. The Tesla Model S has the capability of logging everything about the car: it’s GPS location, velocity, even the settings on the AC/heating system. Musk noted, in a tweet, that “Tesla data logging is only turned on with explicit written permission from customers, but after Top Gear BS, we always keep it on for media.” How nice.

On the one hand, bully for Tesla. As Jack Baruth has often noted, car reviewers are often not particularly good car drivers, and this gives Tesla the opportunity to correct the record. On the other hand… Tesla is working to destroy the career of a seasoned journalist based on their interpretation of the evidence in these logs. It’s heady stuff that might give any other car reviewer a moment of pause. We believe that journalists sign something acknowledging that Tesla is watching them. But everybody else is cool, right? Let’s talk about the privacy implications.

Say you’re a Tesla owner, you enable the data logging feature, and then you let your teenage kid drive the car without you around. Does she have an expectation of privacy? Should she? Okay, now you give your car to one of the valet parking stands which many trendy restaurants force you to use these days. The valet takes your car for a joyride and you’ve got the data. (Amusingly, the Tesla Roadster had a valet mode to diffuse exactly this concern, but the Model S doesn’t seem to.) Those are easy cases. How about your insurance company or a car rental company? Maybe they offer you a discount for driving sedately and providing them with the data. Or maybe they require data logging access, particularly if you’ve got a less than stellar driving record. Drive your car more than 10 mph over the speed limit and lose your coverage? Some companies already offer variations on this sort of usage-based insurance, but Tesla’s data logging facility enables it to go to quite a different level. One step further: can a court order subpoena your data? The possibilities are endless. Hacker types might also imagine protecting their privacy by modifying the car to falsify these records. Criminal types might see this as a way to generate an alibi. Heck, unethical car manufacturers could even falsify these records to falsely impugn negative reviewers. Write a positive review or risk your career!

I don’t want to pick on Tesla too much. Any car with a modern telematics system (GM OnStar, etc.) already has the facilities to support remote data logging. Let’s just hope Tesla gets more of these cars into reviewers’ hands. That’s the scientific method at play: results should be repeatable. If there’s a real problem, it can and should be discovered by having more eyes looking at it. CNN has already set out with another Tesla. More on this story as it develops.

[This blog piece emerged from a discussion with several of my graduate students. Everybody’s buzzing today with this news.]

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US Supreme Court Wrestles with GPS Surveillance of Automobiles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/us-supreme-court-wrestles-with-gps-surveillance-of-automobiles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/us-supreme-court-wrestles-with-gps-surveillance-of-automobiles/#comments Tue, 29 Nov 2011 16:32:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=420636 The US Supreme Court earlier this month heard oral arguments in a case that will set the legal boundaries for police GPS surveillance of automobiles. Last year, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that police were wrong to spend a month tracking the every move of Antoine Jones, who was arrested […]

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The US Supreme Court earlier this month heard oral arguments in a case that will set the legal boundaries for police GPS surveillance of automobiles. Last year, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that police were wrong to spend a month tracking the every move of Antoine Jones, who was arrested on October 24, 2005 for drug possession (view opinion). A tracking device had been attached to Jones’s Jeep without judicial approval. The high court judges engaged in heated debate about the rights of motorists in connection with the Fourth Amendment.

“It seems to me the heart of the problem that’s presented by this case and will be presented by other cases involving new technology is that in the pre-computer, pre-Internet age much of the privacy — I would say most of the privacy — that people enjoyed was not the result of legal protections or constitutional protections; it was the result simply of the difficulty of traveling around and gathering up information,” Justice Samuel Alito summarized. “But with computers, it’s now so simple to amass an enormous amount of information about people that consists of things that could have been observed on the streets, information that was made available to the public.”

The administration, represented by Deputy Solicitor General Michael R. Dreben, argued that police do not need to obtain a warrant because location information could have been obtained this information through ordinary surveillance methods. That means anyone could track even supreme court justices without violating their privacy.

“So your answer is yes, you could tomorrow decide that you put a GPS device on every one of our cars, follow us for a month; no problem under the Constitution?” Chief Justice John Roberts said. “Your argument is, it doesn’t depend how much suspicion you have, it doesn’t depend on how urgent it is. Your argument is you can do it, period. You don’t have to give any reason. It doesn’t have to be limited in any way.”

Roberts suggested the process of obtaining a warrant serves as an effective limit. Scalia seemed to suggest that state legislatures were best suited to decide what limits should be placed on police tracking, not the courts. Other justices worried about the implications of allowing unrestricted tracking.

“[It's] an easy way, to pick someone up for speeding when you suspect something far worse but have no probable cause,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said. “It’s all in the computer. The police can say, we want to find out more about X, so consult the database, see if there is an indication that he was ever speeding in the last 28 days.”

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy compared the GPS tracking to the use of speed cameras and red light cameras for tracking purposes.

“Lots of communities have, including Washington, cameras on — at intersections on stop lights,” Kennedy said. “Suppose the police suspected someone of criminal activity and they had a computer capacity to take pictures of all the intersections that he drove through at different times of day, and they checked his movements and his routes for five days. Would that be lawful?”

Justice Elena Kagan suggested constant police surveillance of an individual is obviously a violation of privacy.

“If you think about this, and you think about a little robotic device following you around 24 hours a day anyplace you go that’s not your home, reporting in all your movements to the police, to investigative authorities, the notion that we don’t have an expectation of privacy in that, the notion that we don’t think that our privacy interests would be violated by this robotic device, I’m — I’m not sure how one can say that,” Kagan said.

The justices are expected to arrive at a decision by spring.

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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Paper Treated Differently Than Smartphones in Automobile Searches http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/paper-treated-differently-than-smartphones-in-automobile-searches/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/paper-treated-differently-than-smartphones-in-automobile-searches/#comments Tue, 01 Nov 2011 14:16:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=416403 Motorists searched during a traffic stop may find their iPhone data electronically grabbed by police in ways that would not be possible or acceptable with written material. Some police departments, including the Michigan State Police, are equipped with a mobile forensics device able to extract images, videos, text messages and emails from smartphones. In some cases, […]

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Motorists searched during a traffic stop may find their iPhone data electronically grabbed by police in ways that would not be possible or acceptable with written material. Some police departments, including the Michigan State Police, are equipped with a mobile forensics device able to extract images, videos, text messages and emails from smartphones. In some cases, the device is able to bypass password protection. Several states have been reluctant to curtail law enforcement access to this information.

In January the California Supreme Court ruled in California v. Diaz that a police officer did not need a warrant to read the text messages on a cell phone grabbed during a search incident to arrest. A Court of Appeal ruling in September (view opinion) found a Blackberry in an automobile was nothing more than a “container” subject to warrantless examination. Golden State lawmakers recoiled at the precedent being set and moved quickly to introduce legislation requiring police to obtain judicial approval before searching a phone. The state Senate approved the measure in June by a vote of 28-9 and the state Assembly unanimously passed it in August. Governor Jerry Brown (D), however, used his veto power last month to prevent the measure from becoming law.

“I am returning Senate Bill 914 without my signature,” Brown wrote in his message to the Senate. “The courts are better suited to resolve the complex and case-specific issues relating to constitutional search-and-seizures protections.”

Nationwide, the courts do not agree on how such cases should be handled. On Tuesday, New York’s Supreme Court, Appellate Division ruled that police had no right to read a driver’s paper notebook during a search. The case began when a Suffolk County Police officer pulled over Cristobal Perez for driving while talking on his cell phone and weaving in his lane. Perez had been operating on a suspended license, so his car was impounded. Police did not wait to ask a judge for a warrant before reading the papers found in the vehicle. The state’s second-highest court saw no reason why law enforcement could not wait for a judge.

“Here, the police officer’s initial entry of the defendant’s impounded car to leaf through notebooks located in the back seat was an unjustified unconstitutional search, and the notebooks and any information gleaned therein by the officer must be suppressed,” the unanimous court ruled. “Further, the plain view doctrine does not apply, because the incriminating character of the notebooks was not immediately apparent.”

Lawmakers in the Empire State have not addressed the issue of electronic searches. A copy of the New York decision is available in an 85k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File New York v. Perez (New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, 10/25/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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Quote Of The Day: TSA Hits The Road Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/quote-of-the-day-tsa-hits-the-road-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/quote-of-the-day-tsa-hits-the-road-edition/#comments Mon, 24 Oct 2011 01:13:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=415685 With TTAC’s editorial team rendezvoused in Georgia in preparation for our Southern Tour, it seems the state of Tennesse has been warned of the coming invasion of Niedermeyers, Langs, Schmitts and Baruths. According to Nashville’s News Channel 5 [via Robert Farago's Truth About Guns], the Volunteer State has, er, volunteered to become the first state to […]

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With TTAC’s editorial team rendezvoused in Georgia in preparation for our Southern Tour, it seems the state of Tennesse has been warned of the coming invasion of Niedermeyers, Langs, Schmitts and Baruths. According to Nashville’s News Channel 5 [via Robert Farago's Truth About Guns], the Volunteer State has, er, volunteered to become the first state to bring a Transportation Security Administration presence to its highways and byways. Says Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons,

Where is a terrorist more apt to be found? Not these days on an airplane more likely on the interstate

What evidence is there, besides the imminent presence of some particularly depraved automotive bloggers, for this purported increase in terrorist activity on Tennessee’s interstates? Who knows? Not the point. And there’s no “opt-out” lane on the freeway…

The effort to patrol Tennessee’s highways is known as Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response (VIPR), and the “awareness” and “safety enforcement” mission is being undertaken by Tennessee’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security on Tuesday in partnership with the TSA. So what does this mission entail?

Agents are recruiting truck drivers, like Rudy Gonzales, into the First Observer Highway Security Program to say something if they see something.

“Not only truck drivers, but cars, everybody should be aware of what’s going on, on the road,” said Gonzales.

It’s all meant to urge every driver to call authorities if they see something suspicious.

“Somebody sees something somewhere and we want them to be responsible citizens, report that and let us work it through our processes to abate the concern that they had when they saw something suspicious,” said Paul Armes, TSA Federal Security Director for Nashville International Airport.

And why is this necessary again? Oh right, it’s not: according to “officials,” the

 statewide “VIPR” operation isn’t in response to any particular threat.

And not only that, but get this:

The random inspections really aren’t any more thorough than normal, according to Tennessee Highway Patrol Colonel Tracy Trott

“Security Theater,” or the post-9/11 term for the public exercise of pointless security rituals that don’t actually make you any safer but make people feel safer, has taken ten years to metastasize past airports… and now it’s hitting the open road. For now it seems that truck drivers will feel most of the immediate impact of this shift, but expect this to be the beginning of a trend towards an ever-greater security presence on American highways.

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The War On Drivers: “Car-To-X” Communication System Testing Begins http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/the-war-on-drivers-car-to-x-communication-system-testing-begins/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/the-war-on-drivers-car-to-x-communication-system-testing-begins/#comments Sat, 22 Oct 2011 19:30:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=415617 Though the idea that there is a “war on cars” appeals to certain segments of society, there’s little evidence for any such effort. On the other hand, it’s pretty clear that there’s a “war on drivers” on, and it’s being led by the automotive industry. On the one hand, cars are being ever-more laden with […]

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Though the idea that there is a “war on cars” appeals to certain segments of society, there’s little evidence for any such effort. On the other hand, it’s pretty clear that there’s a “war on drivers” on, and it’s being led by the automotive industry. On the one hand, cars are being ever-more laden with distracting gizmos and toys, while simultaneously, companies are testing systems that minimize the need for drivers at all. Though Google’s autonomous cars get a lot of media play in this country, another system is moving Europe towards a similar endgame. Known as “Car-To-X,” the system allows cars to swap information like speed and direction, not just with each other but with traffic lights and traffic data collectors. The idea is to avoid traffic and crashes, by warning drivers of oncoming traffic in a left-hand turn scenario, for example. Because who wants to use their eyes to make sure they’re safe when technology can do it for you?

According to Autobild, the first public German test of the system will begin next spring, with 120 vehicles taking part. GM is currently testing a similar system. If all goes according to plan, systems like this and Google’s autonomous technology will fulfill GM’s prediction that autonomous vehicles will be a reality by 2020, and the war on driving will be won. Or lost, depending on your perspective.

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California: Appeals Court Approves Cell Phone Search During Traffic Stop http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/california-appeals-court-approves-cell-phone-search-during-traffic-stop/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/10/california-appeals-court-approves-cell-phone-search-during-traffic-stop/#comments Tue, 04 Oct 2011 14:09:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=413434 The California Court of Appeal on September 26 approved a police officer’s rifling through the cell phone belonging to someone who had just been pulled over for a traffic violation. Reid Nottoli was pulled over on December 6, 2009 just before 2am as he was taking a female friend home. Santa Cruz County Deputy Sheriff […]

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The California Court of Appeal on September 26 approved a police officer’s rifling through the cell phone belonging to someone who had just been pulled over for a traffic violation.

Reid Nottoli was pulled over on December 6, 2009 just before 2am as he was taking a female friend home. Santa Cruz County Deputy Sheriff Steven Ryan said Nottoli’s silver Acura TL had been speeding on Highway 1. After speaking with Nottoli on the side of the road, Ryan suspected the 25-year-old was under the influence of a stimulant drug. His license was also expired, so Ryan said he would impound the vehicle. Nottoli asked if his car could stay parked on the side of the road, which was not heavily traveled and out of the way. Ryan refused so that he could conduct an “inventory” search prior to the towing.

Ryan testified that Nottoli’s driving was not impaired, and Nottoli was not arrested for driving under the influence. As he rifled through the belongings in the car, Ryan found a fully legal Glock 20 pistol with a Guncrafter Industries 50 GI conversion that should have been stored in the trunk of the vehicle. He also noticed Nottoli’s Blackberry Curve which, after it was turned on, displayed a photograph of a mask-wearing man holding two AR-15 rifles akimbo. Such rifles could have been legally possessed if owned before California’s assault weapons ban took effect. The photograph could also have been taken in another state, but Ryan took it was evidence of possible “gun-related crimes.”

Another deputy began reading all of Nottoli’s cell phone text messages, photographs and emails. Much later, Ryan obtained a search warrant to grab more information from the phone, and then a second search warrant was obtained for Nottoli’s home. Based on the information from the Blackberry, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team on December 16 raided the Nottoli home. They found a large cache of weapons, a marijuana growing operation and $15,000 in cash, which the law enforcement officials kept.

At trial, Nottoli argued the cell phone search was illegal, and a magistrate agreed to suppress the evidence as obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The appellate court, however, only agreed that the phone search was unlawful as part of the inventory process for the automobile. The judges insisted that the search was valid as part of the arrest process in which no warrant is needed to examine items related to officer safety and the preservation of evidence, as expanded by the 2009 US Supreme Court ruling in Arizona v. Gant (view ruling).

“In sum, it is our conclusion that, after Reid [Nottoli] was arrested for being under the influence, it was reasonable to believe that evidence relevant to that offense might be found in his vehicle,” Justice Franklin D. Elia wrote for the three-judge panel. “Consequently, the deputies had unqualified authority under Gant to search the passenger compartment of the vehicle and any container found therein, including Reid’s cell phone. It is up to the US Supreme Court to impose any greater limits on officers’ authority to search incident to arrest.”

The court reversed the lower court’s order suppressing the evidence, but the decision was made solely to set legal precedent. Reid Nottoli died on September 4. A copy of the decision is available in a 120k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File California v. Nottoli (Court of Appeal, State of California, 9/26/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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Ohio Appeals Court Strikes Down GPS Vehicle Spying http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/ohio-appeals-court-strikes-down-gps-vehicle-spying/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/ohio-appeals-court-strikes-down-gps-vehicle-spying/#comments Fri, 30 Sep 2011 14:29:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=413038 Although the US Supreme Court is expected to settle the issue of GPS tracking of motorists soon, a three-judge panel of the Ohio Court of Appeals, Fifth District ruled 2-1 earlier this month against the warrantless use of the technology. The majority’s decision was likely designed to influence the deliberations of the higher courts. On […]

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Although the US Supreme Court is expected to settle the issue of GPS tracking of motorists soon, a three-judge panel of the Ohio Court of Appeals, Fifth District ruled 2-1 earlier this month against the warrantless use of the technology. The majority’s decision was likely designed to influence the deliberations of the higher courts. On November 8, the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the GPS case US v. Jones. The Ohio Supreme Court is also considering Ohio v. Johnson in which the Twelfth District appellate court upheld warrantless spying.
The present case began on January 14, 2010, when Franklin County Sheriff’s Department Corporal Richard Minerd’s investigation of a burglary brought him to a white Honda Civic in an apartment complex. Minerd slapped a battery-powered GPS tracking unit under the bumper that allowed real-time tracking of the vehicle’s location, speed and direction of travel. Minerd did not seek a search warrant before acting.

Nine days later, the Civic appeared at the location of a robbery, and Minerd was able to follow the car back to the home of David L. White, who was caught with the stolen property. The Fifth District considered the question of whether it is ever acceptable for government agents to attach such devices to privately owned vehicles without a warrant.

“We respectfully disagree with our brethren in the Twelfth Appellate District,” Presiding Judge W. Scott Gwin wrote. “We find for the reasons which follow that under the facts of this case a warrant was required before placing the GPS tracking unit on the suspect vehicle and to continuously monitor the tracking signal.”

The panel majority took issue with the idea that attaching devices on the bumper of vehicles was ordinary conduct one could expect from any member of the public. The judges expounded on the importance of the Fourth Amendment in securing individual privacy against arbitrary government intrusion and concluded their colleagues were wrong in suggesting one has no expectation of privacy when parking on the street.

“When a person parks his car on a public way, he does not thereby give up all expectations of privacy in his vehicle,” Gwin wrote. “There is no way to lock a door or place the car under a protective cloak as a signal to the police that one considers the car private… Upon observing a stranger underneath one’s automobile, it is reasonable to believe that most citizens would sound an alarm. A response to the effect of, ‘Well, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the undercarriage of your car so any stranger can crawl under there and attach a GPS tracking device’ would be met with righteous anger and disbelief. A citizen would justifiably feel that his or her property has been defiled; her privacy breached and his personal security compromised.”

Since the GPS unit allows surveillance capabilities far beyond anything that could be accomplished with traditional spying methods, the majority dismissed the argument that the device only captured information that could have been observed with visual surveillance. Without enforcing a warrant requirement, police could install permanent tracking devices on anyone’s car whether or not criminal activity is suspected.

“We find that the GPS tracking device, remaining constantly in place, performs a search of much more substantial and therefore unreasonable duration and scope,” Gwin wrote. “The installation of the device without consent upon private property is a ‘search’ subject to Fourth Amendment warrant requirements, in the sense that it is an unreasonable governmental intrusion upon the individual’s constitutionally guaranteed right of personal security, personal liberty, and private property.”

A copy of the decision is available in a 100k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Ohio v. White (Court of Appeals, State of Ohio, 9/1/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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Constitutional Rights Group Challenges Warrantless GPS Tracking http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/constitutional-rights-group-challenges-warrantless-gps-tracking/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/constitutional-rights-group-challenges-warrantless-gps-tracking/#comments Wed, 28 Sep 2011 14:08:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=412825 A powerful group of political figures issued a report last week condemning law enforcement’s unchecked use of high-tech surveillance system. The Constitution Project is troubled in particular by the ease with which a person’s movements can be tracked 24 hours a day. The conservative-leaning group insisted on the need to bring the law back in […]

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A powerful group of political figures issued a report last week condemning law enforcement’s unchecked use of high-tech surveillance system. The Constitution Project is troubled in particular by the ease with which a person’s movements can be tracked 24 hours a day. The conservative-leaning group insisted on the need to bring the law back in line with fundamental constitutional principles.

“Private sector technologies that enable constant monitoring of individuals are moving inexorably forward, and as they are developed, law enforcement agencies inevitably seek to use these new surveillance tools,” the report stated. “These include not only GPS devices and cell phones, but also laptop and notebook computers, location based services like OnStar, and technologies yet to be developed. Use of these surveillance devices presents serious challenges in terms of compliance with Fourth Amendment protections. While these technologies enhance the ability of law enforcement agents to accomplish their important work, it is also critical that we carry forward Fourth Amendment safeguards into the Digital Age.”
The statement was put together by a committee that included David Keene, current president of the National Rifle Association; former FBI Director William S. Sessions; Asa Hutchinson, former Republican congressman from Arkansas and former undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security; Mickey Edwards, former Republican congressman from Oklahoma; and former US Court of Appeals Judge Patricia Wald.

The issue of vehicle tracking will heat up in November as the US Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the case US v. Jones, which will likely settle the existing disagreement among appellate courts over the legality of secretly attaching GPS devices to automobiles without a warrant. The Constitution Project is urging Congress to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act to ban the use of such tracking without judicial oversight, regardless of how the high court rules.

“GPS technology has made pervasive and continuous location tracking possible in a way that was never before feasible relying solely on human law enforcement officers,” the report argued. “When such tracking is conducted, vast quantities of data are collected, automatically stored in a searchable digital database, and analyzed for patterns of behavior that can reveal a great amount of very personal and private information. These technologies convert traditional ‘tailing’ of a suspect into a new and different type of surveillance, paired with new and powerful digital analytic tools, that alters our analysis of expectations of privacy in a public place. Such tools may be a valuable aid to law enforcement when following a particular suspect. But their use is also a search that should require a warrant based upon a showing of probable cause.”

A copy of the report is available in a 120k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Statement on Location Tracking (The Constitution Project, 9/21/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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GM Drops Proposed OnStar Policy Changes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/gm-drops-proposed-onstar-policy-changes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/gm-drops-proposed-onstar-policy-changes/#comments Tue, 27 Sep 2011 17:15:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=412723 Under attack from privacy advocates and US Senators, Onstar will be dropping plans to automatically track vehicles that are not subscribed to its service, and will make post-cancellation tracking an opt-in option, rather than opt-out. A GM statement reads: DETROIT – OnStar announced today it is reversing its proposed Terms and Conditions policy changes and will […]

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Under attack from privacy advocates and US Senators, Onstar will be dropping plans to automatically track vehicles that are not subscribed to its service, and will make post-cancellation tracking an opt-in option, rather than opt-out. A GM statement reads:

DETROIT – OnStar announced today it is reversing its proposed Terms and Conditions policy changes and will not keep a data connection to customers’ vehicles after the OnStar service is canceled.

OnStar recently sent e-mails to customers telling them that effective Dec. 1, their service would change so that data from a customer vehicle would continue to be transmitted to OnStar after service was canceled – unless the customer asked for it to be shut off.

“We realize that our proposed amendments did not satisfy our subscribers,” OnStar President Linda Marshall said. “This is why we are leaving the decision in our customers’ hands. We listened, we responded and we hope to maintain the trust of our more than 6 million customers.”

If OnStar ever offers the option of a data connection after cancellation, it would only be when a customer opted-in, Marshall said. And then OnStar would honor customers’ preferences about how data from that connection is treated.

Maintaining the data connection would have allowed OnStar to provide former customers with urgent information about natural disasters and recalls affecting their vehicles even after canceling their service. It also would have helped in planning future services, Marshall said.

“We regret any confusion or concern we may have caused,” Marshall said.

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