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. Tue, 09 Dec 2014 04:10:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 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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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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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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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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Statewatch: EU Has Plans for Police to Remotely Stop Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/statewatch-eu-has-plans-for-police-to-remotely-stop-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/statewatch-eu-has-plans-for-police-to-remotely-stop-cars/#comments Mon, 03 Feb 2014 11:30:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=731122 A privacy advocacy group is reporting that European police forces are working on a remote stopping system to be fitted to cars at the factory that would allow authorities to deactivate any vehicle. Leaked documents reveal plans to implement the system by 2020. The idea is to eliminate the need for high speed chases or […]

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A privacy advocacy group is reporting that European police forces are working on a remote stopping system to be fitted to cars at the factory that would allow authorities to deactivate any vehicle. Leaked documents reveal plans to implement the system by 2020. The idea is to eliminate the need for high speed chases or tire-spiking strips. The documents were leaked by Statewatch, a watchdog group dedicated to monitoring police powers, state surveillance and civil liberties in the EU.

The remote stopping project is said to be a priority of the European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services (ENLETS) – a little known and somewhat secretive branch of a EU working group aimed at enhancing police cooperation across the EU.

The ENLET report, issued from Brussels in December said:

“Cars on the run have proven to be dangerous for citizens. Criminal offenders (from robbery to a simple theft) will take risks to escape after a crime. In most cases the police are unable to chase the criminal due to the lack of efficient means to stop the vehicle safely. This project starts with the knowledge that insufficient tools are available to be used as part of a proportionate response. This project will work on a technological solution that can be a “built in standard” for all cars that enter the European market.”

Other items on ENLETS’ agenda includes improved automatic license plate recognition technology and intelligence sharing. That agenda has reportedly been approved by the EU’s Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security, known as Cosi, and that it has the support of senior British Home Office civil servants and police officers.

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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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RFID Enhanced Driver’s Licenses: Big Brother Or Brighter Future? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/rfid-enhanced-drivers-licenses-big-brother-or-brighter-future/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/rfid-enhanced-drivers-licenses-big-brother-or-brighter-future/#comments Wed, 04 Sep 2013 15:22:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=508993 Wired.com is reporting that the state of California has abruptly tabled legislation that might have allowed RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips to be embedded into the state’s drivers’ licenses. Privacy activists are hailing the suspension of this plan as a victory against government intrusion in people’s lives and believe that these chips, which are actually […]

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watching you uncle sam poster Big Brother 1984 Orwellian

Wired.com is reporting that the state of California has abruptly tabled legislation that might have allowed RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips to be embedded into the state’s drivers’ licenses. Privacy activists are hailing the suspension of this plan as a victory against government intrusion in people’s lives and believe that these chips, which are actually tiny radio transceivers that can be accessed over the open airwaves without the consent of the person carrying the document, will eventually be used to track people’s movements without their knowledge. Currently, three states, Michigan, Vermont and Washington, already have RFID chips in their licenses and are already sharing information collected by the DMV, including basic identity data and photos, with the Department of Homeland Security via a national database. Scary, right?

To understand what the Department of Homeland Security is doing with this data, you need to know that since June 1, 2009 the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) has required that a passport be used to cross our Northern and Southern borders. Prior to that time, any US citizen could drive to Canada or Mexico and, on the return leg of their trip, present themselves to US Immigration officials back at the border crossing with nothing more than their good looks and their American accent as proof of US citizenship. The men and women who manned the ports of entry interviewed everyone who presented themselves, maybe looked at their ID (which is not proof of citizenship), and then made a decision about whether or not to let the person in. WHTI sought to change all that by ensuring that people who traveled abroad, even on a simple day trip to Toronto, would do so with actual verified proof of citizenship in their pocket in the form of a US passport.

States all along our Northern and Southern borders reacted with fear and suspicion. To people on the border, the ability to go across the river to go shopping, visit friends, go to church or even have your kids participate in high school sporting events is a given and people naturally worried about the ramifications of getting and holding a passport. They complained to their congressmen and it was decided that the best solution was to allow border states to issue their own border crossing cards. Most states decided that the simplest way to do this was to use the pre-existing infrastructure of the State Department of Licensing and thus, the “Enhanced Driver’s License” was born.

A ample Washington Driver's license issued to "Mary Jane?"  WTF are they smoking up there?

A Washington Driver’s License Issued to “Mary Jane?” WTF are they smoking up there?

Although we generally think of our government as one solid ill-tempered blob of bureaucracy, the truth is that for the most part the various agencies you share your information with do their very best to protect your privacy. Generally, unless there is some kind of special pre-existing agreement between bureaus or a court order, the various parts of government will not share your information with one another. This desire to protect your privacy is especially pronounced across the State and Federal lines. The IRS, for example can’t look at your birth certificate. The DMV can’t see your military records, etc. This also means that Immigration Officials don’t have access to State DMV records and, in order for the state issued border crossing cards to work on the Federally protected border, the various states in the program must share the information they collect with Immigration via a shared database.

Anyone who works with databases knows that the way you draw up information on a person is by entering their information. Naturally, when you have a line 1000 cars long, you don’t want your immigration officer trying to enter the data by hand and, to get around this, most enhanced drivers’ licenses have a “machine readable” code printed on the back of them that more or less matches what you would find on the bottom of your passport’s data page. As this part of the document is swept through a code reader, it automatically populates the data fields on the officer’s computer. The search is run and, if everything looks right, you are good to go after just a few questions.

San-Ysidro-BorderCrossing

Technology has continued to advance, however, and in the past few years the old machine readable system has been upgraded to include RFID technology. International treaties have been signed and RFID technology has been incorporated into passports worldwide. It also appears in border crossing cards like Nexus and the US Department of State’s own Passport Card. The payoff has been shorter wait times at the border and today people who hold RFID enhanced crossing cards can cross via special lanes that expedite the process by allowing the Immigration Officer manning the booth to pull up your information prior to your arrival at the window. The process is simple, you just pull your card out of its protective sleeve, wave it at the card reader at the head of the lane as you pass by and then present it to the official when you arrive at the window. With your data and photo already in front of him, the Immigration Officer gives you the once over, conducts the interview and sends you on your way.

Of course the fact that you are carrying around a radio transmitter that is capable of broadcasting your vital information all over the magnetosphere has some people worried. Anyone with the right equipment, they say, can steal your data as you walk down the street. The truth is, however, somewhat different than the popular perception. First, your border crossing card does not actually have personal information encoded on their chips. They are instead encoded with a number that refers back to the database I mentioned at the top of the article. Without access to the database, the number is meaningless.

0412speed1

But the cops can track you by that number when you drive by, right? Probably not. Most cards come with a foil impregnated sleeve that, assuming you faithfully keep your card in it, actually stops the transmission of even that small amount of data. Passport books, by the way, do actually have your data and photo encoded on their chips – the same information shown on the photo page of the book – but the cover of the book is foil lined in order to prevent transmission while the book is closed and the chip used has a much weaker signal. This weak signal, incidentally, is why the new passport books are not included among those documents allowed in the express lanes at the border.

So there it is, the actual truth about what is going on via the RFID chip in your pocket and what the chip in the new California driver’s license would have done as well. Of course, privacy advocates are concerned that the system could be abused, that certain parts of the government could track your movements through the card in your wallet the same way that they can track your movements via the cellular signal from the phone in your pocket or via your license plate through plate readers mounted on so many police cars these days or by computer enhanced photo recognition software linked through surveillance cameras located in public places or through all the metadata stuck to the photos you post on Facebook or by – well you get the point. Vulnerabilities are everywhere and each one is yet another chance for someone, maybe a criminal with a transmitter and a computer, the police, Big Brother, et al, to get into your pocket and into your personal business.

I see both sides of this argument. Every day brings new news about just how far the government is delving into our lives. They, or at least their computer programs, are listening to and recording our telephone conversations, they are sifting through our emails, the post office is photographing all the envelopes we mail, my car is recording my driving habits on a black box and the TSA is x-raying my luggage and laughing about the size of my dong every time I go through the scanner at the airport.

"I think I see it there behind that other thing."

“I think I see it there behind that other thing.”

So what? I want that quicker trip across the border and, even though it is more intrusive than a lot of what we are subjected to, I also want that shorter line at the airport that I get because they are scanning my nutsack rather than groping it. It seems to me that the advantages of having an RFID chip in my enhanced license would outweigh the liability, especially since I can prevent any problems by using a sleeve or one of those metal lined wallets they are selling these days for just this purpose. You may say that I am trading my freedom for security, but I think otherwise. I am bearing a slight intrusion for the sake of convenience. That’s what the future is supposed to be isn’t it? A slicker, cleaner place where I am not bothered with all the minutiae of daily life. The only thing government surveillance is going to find out about me is what everyone on TTAC already knows, I’m a dull, fat, middle-aged man who owns a minivan. Ho-hum.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Brazil Mandates RFID For Cars Starting in 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/brazil-mandates-rfid-for-cars-starting-in-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/brazil-mandates-rfid-for-cars-starting-in-2014/#comments Tue, 14 Aug 2012 12:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456591 Psst! Hey, buddy! Do you want to have a complete travel/movement database for your automobile-using populace but don’t have the scratch for a a bunch of high-tech, privacy-destroying surveillance copcars? Brazil has an idea for you! An article published last week in ZeroHora notes the details of the implementation: a five-dollar chip to be installed […]

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Psst! Hey, buddy! Do you want to have a complete travel/movement database for your automobile-using populace but don’t have the scratch for a a bunch of high-tech, privacy-destroying surveillance copcars? Brazil has an idea for you!

An article published last week in ZeroHora notes the details of the implementation: a five-dollar chip to be installed on the windshield will contain details of the vehicle which are otherwise observable — registration, vehicle make, model, fuel used, and other identifying factors. No owner data may be stored on the chip and the chip can only be used for EZ-Pass-style toll collection “with consent of the owner”.

It’s difficult to conceive of any legitimate use of these tags other than to plant RFID receivers in public areas and obtain personal trip information. Note that I didn’t say “for the government to plant RFID receivers in public areas and obtain personal trip information.” The nature of RFID tagging is such that it can be read by anyone with the correct equipment. The whole project seems less appropriate to Brazil the country and more to Brazil the film.

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Big Brother Is Watching, Recording, And Storing You. ACLU Alarmed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/big-brother-is-watching-recording-and-storing-you-aclu-alarmed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/big-brother-is-watching-recording-and-storing-you-aclu-alarmed/#comments Thu, 09 Aug 2012 14:51:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456067 Over the recent years, Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR)  has come into increased use.  What has the American Civil Liberties Union up in arms is that the data are stored and can be used to compile behavioral profiles on innocent civilians. The state of Maryland seems to be in the lead when it comes to centralized […]

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Over the recent years, Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR)  has come into increased use.  What has the American Civil Liberties Union up in arms is that the data are stored and can be used to compile behavioral profiles on innocent civilians. The state of Maryland seems to be in the lead when it comes to centralized aggregation and storage of ALPR data, “which raises significant privacy concerns,” says the ACLU.

Says an article on the ACLU website:

“If license plate scans, which are typically stamped with a location, time, and date, were used just for these purposes and deleted shortly thereafter, privacy concerns would be minimal to non-existent. After all, police can run license plates against these databases themselves. ALPR technology simply cuts down on the time and manpower required to perform these functions on a large scale. 

The privacy issues arise with the retention of the information. A police officer will not forever remember the exact location and time of an innocent motorist’s travels. With ALPR technology, those details can be stored indefinitely, creating an ever-growing historical record of the daily comings and goings of every Marylander. As ALPRs become more ubiquitous and that record becomes longer and more detailed, it will become possible for the government to determine a person’s exact movements during any given time period.” 

American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in 38 states sent requests to local police departments and state agencies that demand information on how they use automatic license plate readers (ALPR) to track and record Americans’ movements. The ACLU and the ACLU of Massachusetts filed federal Freedom of Information Act requests with the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Transportation to learn how the federal government funds ALPR expansion nationwide and uses the technology itself.

In the meantime, take the bus. Hat tip to an anonymous tipster.

 

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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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Senators Franken And Coons Question OnStar Over New Policies http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/senators-franken-and-coons-question-onstar-over-new-policies/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/senators-franken-and-coons-question-onstar-over-new-policies/#comments Sun, 25 Sep 2011 18:54:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=412512 Editor’s note: When I wrote about OnStar’s latest round of privacy concerns, I didn’t realize that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law had voiced his own concerns in a letter published just the day before. Here is the letter, as published at Senator Franken’s website. OnStar has already said […]

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Editor’s note: When I wrote about OnStar’s latest round of privacy concerns, I didn’t realize that the chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law had voiced his own concerns in a letter published just the day before. Here is the letter, as published at Senator Franken’s website. OnStar has already said it will respond to specifically to the concerns of Senators Franken and Coons.

Ms. Linda Marshall, President
OnStar Corporation
400 Renaissance Center
Detroit, MI 48265

Dear Ms. Marshall:

We are writing to express our serious concern with OnStar’s announcement earlier this week that it would continue to track the GPS locations of its customers’ vehicles even if those customers have affirmatively ended their contractual plans with OnStar.  In this email announcement, OnStar informs its current and former subscribers that it reserves the right to track their locations “for any purpose, at any time.”  It appears that the only way to stop this tracking is to actually call OnStar and request that the data connection between OnStar and the vehicle be terminated; this service is not available online.  OnStar further reserves the right to share or sell location data with “credit card processors,” “data management companies,” OnStar’s “affiliates,” or “any third party” provided that OnStar is satisfied that the data cannot be traced back to individual customers.  See OnStar, Privacy Statement: Effective as of December 2011.  In a nutshell, OnStar is telling its current and former customers that it can track their location anywhere, anytime—even if they cancel their subscriptions—and then give or sell that information to anyone as long as OnStar deems it safe to do so.

OnStar’s actions appear to violate basic principles of privacy and fairness for OnStar’s approximately six million customers—especially for those customers who have already ended their relationships with your company.  OnStar’s assurances that it will protect its customers by “anonymizing” precise GPS records of their location are undermined by a broad body of research showing that it is extraordinarily difficult to successfully anonymize highly personal data like location.  See generally Paul Ohm, Broken Promises of Privacy: Responding to the Surprising Failure of Anonymization, 5 UCLA Law Review 1701 (2010) and Marco Gruteser and Baik Hoh, On the Anonymity of Periodic Location Samples, in Second International Conference on Security in Pervasive Computing, Boppard, Germany (2005) at 179-192.  If a data set shows the exact location where a car starts every morning, the roads that car travels on its morning commute, the office where it is parked during business hours, and the schools where it stops on its way home, it is unnecessary for that data set to include a name or license plate for it to be connected to an individual and his or her family.

We urge you to reconsider these decisions.  We also urge you to better inform your customers of their ramifications.  To that end, we request that you provide answers to the following questions:

1.      Does OnStar believe that its actions comply with federal law?
2.      Will OnStar allow its customers to deactivate their data connections online?
3.      If a customer deactivates their data connection, will OnStar delete the existing location information they have gathered for that customer?  Or does OnStar reserve the right to store and sell that information regardless of deactivation?
4.      Has OnStar ever suffered a breach of its customers’ location data?
5.      Has OnStar ever suffered a breach of any of its customers’ private information?
6.      How will OnStar protect non-anonymized data on its servers in light of recent breaches at major institutions like Citibank, Sony and the International Monetary Fund?
7.      How exactly will OnStar anonymize its location data?
8.      Will OnStar seek its customers’ consent before sharing or selling their location data to third parties?  Does OnStar believe it is legally required to do so?
9.      Will OnStar inform its customers of the entities to whom it sells location data?
10.  Has OnStar already disclosed or sold any of its customers’ location data with third parties?  Which third parties?
11.  Will OnStar agree to stop the tracking, sharing, and sale of location data for customers that have ended their subscriptions to OnStar services?

We believe that OnStar’s actions underscore the urgent need for prompt congressional action to enact privacy laws that protect private, sensitive information like location.  In the meantime, we believe that it is the responsibility of corporate citizens like OnStar to take every step possible to safeguard the privacy of their customers.

We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Al Franken                                                                                          Christopher A. Coons
Chairman, Subcommittee on                                                               United States Senator
Privacy, Technology and the Law

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Onstar Responds To Privacy Concerns. Again. Still. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/onstar-responds-to-privacy-concerns-again-still/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/onstar-responds-to-privacy-concerns-again-still/#comments Sat, 24 Sep 2011 16:46:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=412428 Concerns over privacy have haunted GM’s OnStar business for as long as it’s been around, and responses like this video have become something of an annual routine for OnStar’s executives. The latest round of furor involves changes to OnStar’s policies, which the New York Times describes thusly The first regards what happens when a customer […]

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Concerns over privacy have haunted GM’s OnStar business for as long as it’s been around, and responses like this video have become something of an annual routine for OnStar’s executives. The latest round of furor involves changes to OnStar’s policies, which the New York Times describes thusly

The first regards what happens when a customer cancels the service. Until now, when OnStar service stopped, so did the vehicle’s two-way communications system. As of Dec. 1, however, that will not necessarily be the case. Vehicles of owners who no longer subscribe could still be monitored via the system’s still-active two-way cellular link.

The second policy change concerns the potential use of the data collected by OnStar, which includes information like the vehicle’s speed and location, current odometer reading, driver seat-belt use and air-bag deployment. Under the new terms, OnStar reserves the right to share that information with other companies and organizations, even data culled from motorists who no longer subscribe to the service but who have left the two-way communications connection open.

Of course, OnStar says GM customers can opt out of the service, but it’s making the case that by only sharing anonymous data, it can limit meaningful privacy concerns. But OnStar doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and as it continues to sell Americans on the notion that security is worth sacrificing some sense of privacy for, it will find itself increasingly pulled into a national debate.

OnStar’s execs are clearly walking a line here, as there’s no doubt OnStar-provided data is used in a number of ways that they argue is intended to benefit the customer. Monitoring usage patterns in the Chevy Volt is one example. Allowing vehicle owners to spy on their kids and spouses is another. But by pushing these services, OnStar finds itself at the cutting edge of a profound national debate on the balance between privacy and security that has been simmering just below the national consciousness in the decade since 9/11.

OnStar is clearly aligning itself with the side of security, not only offering nanny services to its users, but now giving them nanny powers over people who use their cars as well. In the short term, this has been a strong play: history shows that OnStar has picked the winning side in the debate, as most security/privacy tradefoffs since 9/11 have been decided in favor of security. But as measures like pay-per-mile vehicle tracking gain political momentum (the talk in DC is that government tracking of every vehicle is “unavoidable” in the middle-to-long-term), a backlash may well be brewing.

The problem with picking any one side of a fundamental political tradeoff is that eventually your side overreaches, sparking a backlash. When pay-per-mile taxation becomes a serious policy proposal, a political near-inevitability in the next ten years, all of the slippery concessions to security-over-privacy that led up to government tracking of every vehicle in America will be seen in a very different light. OnStar (and its analogues, which are spreading throughout the industry) will clearly be identified as a poster boy for the tradeoff between privacy and security, and faced with mandatory government tracking, it’s hard to see Americans remaining in love with the idea of voluntary tracking. Already the backlash is brewing, and public responses to privacy concerns will be a fact of life for firms like OnStar. But then, that’s just a part of the cost of doing business when you’re selling services that prey on paranoia, and asks customers to trust your benevolent gaze more than the often-terrifying randomness of the universe.

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2011: A DMV Odyssey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/2011-a-dmv-odyssey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/2011-a-dmv-odyssey/#comments Mon, 08 Aug 2011 17:18:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=406272 [Editor’s Note: This piece, by Eric Peters, has been republished from the National Motorist’s Association blog. It originally appeared at epautos.com.] Big Brother’s doing a bit more than just watching you these days. Remember the last time you got your driver’s license renewed? You may recall the procedure for taking your picture was a bit different than […]

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[Editor’s Note: This piece, by Eric Peters, has been republished from the National Motorist’s Association blog. It originally appeared at epautos.com.]

Big Brother’s doing a bit more than just watching you these days.

Remember the last time you got your driver’s license renewed? You may recall the procedure for taking your picture was a bit different than it used to be.

Instead of the usual “smile” you might have been told to do no such thing — very specifically. To be as expressionless as possible. And that the system seemed more “high-tech” than it used to be. Instead of receiving your new license on-site, it would be mailed to you in a week or so — from some unspecified “secure location,” perhaps.

You may have been told or seen signs or been given literature explaining that the new way of taking your picture is part of new security measures designed to make it harder for people to manufacture fake IDs (since a driver’s license is the de facto national ID in this country).

But they probably didn’t mention that the pictures — digitized images, actually — were to be downloaded into a new database that uses facial recognition software to “scan” for (are you surprised?) Terrorists — among other things.

Only it’s ordinary Americans who are being terrorized.

As The Boston Globe reports, Massachussetts resident John H. Gass had his license revoked after the facial recognition Hive Mind deemed him an un-Person. Glass had done nothing, though — other than being tardy opening his mail, including a threatening letter from the Massachussetts Registry of Motor Vehicles demanding that he prove the guy pictured on his DL was, in fact, him.

Here’s where it gets interesting — and depressing.

Gass had already established his identity — apparently, to the satisfaction of the state motor vehicle authorities — at the time his license was originally issued. Just like everyone else who applies for a driver’s license. Now it — well, a computer — demanded he prove it again. On his nickel. On his own time.

Or else.

“Or else” being — no more driving privileges for you.

Gass tried to do so — for ten days, according to The Globe.

First, he called the Motor Vehicle Registry, explaining that he’d forgotten to open his mail, including the letter they’d sent dated March 22, which notified him his license had been revoked effective April 1. The bureaucrats at the registry advised him his digitized image had been “flagged” by the computer because it was similar in appearance to the image of someone else. Now it was up to him, said the Registry drone, to come to them with documents to prove his identity.

Again.

Remember, Gass, like everyone else who has a driver’s license, had to provide such documentation at the time the driver’s license was issued. He had complied with the letter of the law. But now the law had changed. The arbitrary determination of a computer had resulted in the capricious revocation of his driver’s license.

This is of a piece with the TSA “No Fly” lists that have created nightmare hassles for people just trying to board a plane whose only association with “Islamic Terrorism” is that they watched Syriana a couple of years back. Usually not even that.

“I was shocked,’’ Gass said in a recent interview. “As far as I was concerned, I had done nothing wrong.’’

Meanwhile, his license would remain revoked — no small thing for Gass, who drives for a living.

So Gass brought his birth certificate and Social Security card to the Registry to establish that he was in fact himself (again). Insufficient. The drones demanded he also produce additional documents with his current address on them. By this time, Gass had obtained the assistance of a lawyer, who provided the registry drones with the documents and on April 14, at last, his driving privileges were restored.

Gass is suing the state, demanding a court an injunction blocking the MA Motor Vehicle Registry from revoking anyone’s driver’s license without at least giving them a hearing first.

May the Force be with him.

And with the rest of us, too — because this business is not confined to that imprisoned land, The People’s Republic of Massachussetts. At least 34 states are also using facial recognition software — typically (as in the case of MA) funded by a “grant” from the Department of Homeland Security.

Massachussetts received $1.5 million taxpayer dollars to harass the taxpayers of Massachussetts, for instance.

“The advantage if securing the identity of 4 1/2 million drivers is of considerable state interest,” says MA Motor Vehicle Registry Obergruppenfuhrer Rachel Kaprielian. “We send out 1,500 suspension letters every day,” she croons.

And it’s up to each and every one of these hapless recipients to prove to the state that the state is wrong — another example of the casual upending of a basic tenet of what was once our common heritage in the West: That you are innocent until proven guilty.

Not the reverse.

“There are mistakes that can be made,” admits Kaprielian.

But that’s not the state’s problem, of course. It is Gass’s problem.

And quite possibly, your problem, too.

This piece, by Eric Peters, originally appeared at  www.epautos.com

 

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Want To Spy On The Kids/Spouse? Onstar Has The Answer! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/want-to-spy-on-the-kidsspouse-onstar-has-the-answer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/want-to-spy-on-the-kidsspouse-onstar-has-the-answer/#comments Mon, 01 Aug 2011 19:11:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=404941 GM’s Onstar division has long raised privacy concerns among the professionally paranoid, but now it’s putting all that observational power into the hands of consumers, with a pilot program called “Family Link.”  Described in GM’s presser as “a new optional service that will explore ways subscribers can stay connected to their loved ones,” the service […]

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GM’s Onstar division has long raised privacy concerns among the professionally paranoid, but now it’s putting all that observational power into the hands of consumers, with a pilot program called “Family Link.”  Described in GM’s presser as “a new optional service that will explore ways subscribers can stay connected to their loved ones,” the service includes

  • Vehicle Locate: The subscriber can log on to the Family Link website to view a map with the vehicle’s exact location at any time.
  • Vehicle Location Alert: Subscribers can set up email or text message notifications to let them know the location of their loved one’s vehicle. They can choose the day, time and frequency of the alerts.

But that’s not all: if the pilot proves that consumers are willing to pay for the right to surveil their loved ones,

Future considerations for the pilot include Speed Alert, Boundary Alert and Arrival/Departure Alert.

Forget Big Brother… with this system, you can be Big Daddy, in the center of your own little family-sized panopticon. From making sure the kids stay out of trouble (“Say, son, what were you doing in downtown Detroit last night?”) to checking up on your loving spouse (“Honey, why did you say you were going to the gym, when you just parked for an hour at the Slee-Zee Snooze Motel?”), it’s how today’s on-the-go families foster an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust. Because why let the government have all the voyeuristic fun?

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The Driver License: Is It Necessary? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/the-driver-license-is-it-necessary/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/the-driver-license-is-it-necessary/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2011 16:35:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=404488 Do we really need one? Opinions vary widely. In recent years, there have been two legislative efforts to convert the ubiquitous state driver license into a national ID card, making it the essential “show us your papers” document in order to navigate in, around, and through our society. At the other end of the spectrum, […]

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Do we really need one?

Opinions vary widely. In recent years, there have been two legislative efforts to convert the ubiquitous state driver license into a national ID card, making it the essential “show us your papers” document in order to navigate in, around, and through our society.

At the other end of the spectrum, a current movement to do away with the driver license altogether may seem impractical, but it is gathering momentum in regions around the U.S.

Which should it be – a federally-mandated document that uniquely identifies its holder and is necessary to provide the right to drive, to fly, and to participate in various governmental programs, or an extraneous card that serves no useful purpose in a society where individuals have the right to travel without restrictions?

Let’s examine these two diametrically opposed positions:

Driver License as National ID

The Real ID Act of 2005 was enacted, but has not gotten off the ground yet. Real ID is premised on a national ID system based on the driver license. One significant administrative problem with this is that the states, not the federal government, control the requirements of driver licenses, and no two state licenses are exactly the same.

Real ID puts forth requirements so that the various state driver licenses would be accepted by the federal government in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security.

In March 2007, the government announced that the requirements of Real ID wouldn’t be enacted until 2009, supposedly giving the federal and state governments time to implement a workable system. In early 2008, the implementation deadline was further extended to 2011.

In the meantime, U.S. Senate Bill S.1261 was introduced and subsequently reported by committee in July 2009. Also known as Pass ID, S.1261 was claimed by supporters to solve some of the inherent problems of Real ID. Pass ID has been on the Senate’s calendar of business since December 2009, but has not been brought up for vote. In essence, it has been all but abandoned.

Real ID is a time-delayed national ID law hanging over our heads. Somewhat ominously, it states that after 2011, “a Federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver’s license or identification card issued by a state to any person unless the state is meeting the [Real ID] requirements.”

States can keep issuing their unique driver licenses, but unless the requirements of Real ID are met, those driver licenses will not be accepted as federal identification. It does not seem likely that all — if any — states will be in compliance by 2011. What a mess!

Ironically, personal security under Real ID is a significant concern. To quote from a January 14, 2008 NMA Blog article, “The manner in which the driver license is carried and used makes it highly susceptible to theft and physical loss. Under the ‘one national ID number’ concept, the compromise of that number would expose the victim to financial ruin, malicious acts, and the exposure of highly personal information. Having a single national ID card/number is an invitation to fraud, theft and the loss of personal security and individual privacy.”

From the same NMA article, “Such a [Real ID] system will not deter terrorists and will not make our society safer, but will make our society less free and more authoritarian.”

As the Real ID law is presently configured, people born on or after December 1, 1964, will be required to obtain national ID by December 1, 2014. Those born before that 1964 date will have until December 1, 2017 to obtain their Real ID.

Real ID should be repealed, and the notion dismissed that the driver license be used as a national ID card.

Eliminate the Driver License

Georgia State Representative Bobby Franklin (R-Marietta) introduced House Bill 875 in November 2009. The first two sentences of that proposed legislation, better known as the “Right to Travel Act,” summarize what the bill is about: “Free people have a common law and constitutional right to travel on the roads and highways that are provided by their government for that purpose. Licensing of drivers cannot be required of free people because taking on the restrictions of a license requires the surrender of an inalienable right.”

Meanwhile, other groups around the country are pushing to introduce similar bills to their state legislatures in order to question the constitutionality of certain laws related to driver licenses.

The NMA View

Much of the anger and concern surrounding this issue is based on the federal government’s attempt to leverage the driver license into a national ID card. The feds are trying to use the driver license as a club to enforce government sanctions, or to use it as a means to circumvent basic rights, such as implied consent that a citizen can be forced to give evidence against him or herself.

The basic (and only legitimate) purpose of the driver license is to certify that the owner of that license has proven that he/she is capable of operating a motor vehicle on public roads in a safe and responsible manner. The license should not be withheld for any reason other than the fact that the applicant could not pass a fair and objective driving test.

The driver license can be taken away if the holder drives in such a way as to endanger others, but it should not be confiscated for any other reason, and it should not be demanded as a formal means of personal identification.

If shrewder heads prevail in our ruling class, they will understand that defusing the anti-driver license movement will require the federal and state governments to stop using the driver license for purposes other than basic certification of a driver’s competence.

[This piece appears at the National Motorist’s Association blog]

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New Jersey: Court Approves Private GPS Spying http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/new-jersey-court-approves-private-gps-spying/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/new-jersey-court-approves-private-gps-spying/#comments Tue, 12 Jul 2011 14:35:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=402336 Police are not alone in the ability to secretly use GPS devices to track someone without his knowledge, the New Jersey Superior Court’s Appellate Division ruled Thursday. A three-judge panel made this decision in the context of a privacy invasion suit brought by Kenneth R. Villanova against Innovative Investigations Inc after his now ex-wife hired […]

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Police are not alone in the ability to secretly use GPS devices to track someone without his knowledge, the New Jersey Superior Court’s Appellate Division ruled Thursday. A three-judge panel made this decision in the context of a privacy invasion suit brought by Kenneth R. Villanova against Innovative Investigations Inc after his now ex-wife hired the private-eye company to spy on him. She intended to document alleged infidelities prior to filing for divorce in May 2008. At the firm’s suggestion, Villanova’s wife installed the tracking device on her husband’s GMC Yukon-Denali which followed the vehicle’s every move for forty days.


Kenneth Villanova argued that the incident violated privacy statutes. He added a privacy violation claim against his wife during divorce proceedings but had to file the present case separately against the private investigator who followed him. State law forbids intrusion into private places.

“One who intentionally intrudes, physically or otherwise, upon the solitude or seclusion of another or his private affairs or concerns, is subject to liability to the other for invasion of his privacy, if the intrusion would be highly offensive to a reasonable person,” the appellate division wrote in a 1989 case summarizing the statute.

Attorneys for the private investigators countered that Villanova was tracked on public roads and had no expectation of privacy. Villanova had no tangible proof that he drove in any secluded location, which the court saw as the only place one’s privacy could be invaded.

“We find plaintiff’s arguments unpersuasive,” Judge Joseph F. Lisa wrote. “We hold that the placement of a GPS device in plaintiff’s vehicle without his knowledge, but in the absence of evidence that he drove the vehicle into a private or secluded location that was out of public view and in which he had a legitimate expectation of privacy, does not constitute the tort of invasion of privacy.”

The court found that it made no difference whether Villanova’s movements were tracked for forty minutes or forty days in the eyes of the law.

A copy of the decision is available in a 70k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: Villanova v. Innovative Investigations (New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division, 7/7/2011)

[Courtesy: Thenewspaper.com]

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