On hitting the open road

Summary:A variety of countries and municipalities are considering or conducting experiments with active RFID tags and Global Positioning System receivers as a way of doing everything from toll collection to "congestion charges" (charging you for entering an especially crowded city center) to enhanced Amber Alerts (i.e.

A variety of countries and municipalities are considering or conducting experiments with active RFID tags and Global Positioning System receivers as a way of doing everything from toll collection to "congestion charges" (charging you for entering an especially crowded city center) to enhanced Amber Alerts (i.e., tracking a suspicious car) to assessing vehicle taxes by the mile.

So what?

Sigh. Where even to begin? One way or another, we're headed for perfect tracking of individual vehicles, which should make it possible automatically to give you a speeding ticket without even having to stop you--it'll just show up unexpectedly in the mail. It raises (not "begs"—people are misusing the word "begs" these days) the question of what constitutes a speeding violation: one mile of speeding? Ten miles? How many tickets could you (unwittingly) rack up in a single, four-hour trip? Further applications include checking alibis, tracking down witnesses to auto accidents or crimes, instantly finding cars with large numbers of outstanding tickets so they can be booted, and blackmailing people who visit drug-oriented neighborhoods or other unsavory spots. (Okay, this last wouldn't be a source of government revenue--but it'd be available to a hacker who got into the government’s database.) All of which puts a rather different complexion on the excitement, freedom and limitless potential of hitting the open road.

Topics: Open Source

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