In a commentary about the potential mandating of Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking devices in cars, News.com's Declan McCullagh must have been gnashing his teeth when he wrote:
Trust federal bureaucrats to take a good idea and transform it into a frightening proposal to track Americans wherever they drive....The U.S. Department of Transportation has been handing millions of dollars to state governments for GPS-tracking pilot projects designed to track vehicles wherever they go.....The problem, though, is that these "road user fee" systems are being designed and built in a way that strips drivers of their privacy and invites constant surveillance by police, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.....the general idea is that a small GPS device, which knows its location by receiving satellite signals, is placed inside the vehicle.
As I was reading McCullagh's commentary, I was thinking "Fine. Like with radar detectors, this will create a little cottage industry involving covers made out of lead that can be slipped onto the GPS devices." Of course, much the same way the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has outlawed the circumvention of copy protection technologies (for example, Apple's FairPlay Digital Restrictions Management technology as it's applied to music and video), the Feds will probably come up with a law that prevents tampering or interfering with the functioning of the GPS tracking devices (the noose around freedom's neck tightens). But, then, as I read deeper into McCullagh's column, I realized the Feds could have something far more sinister up their sleeves. Wrote McCullagh:
The Feds might as well require that we all get strapped at birth the same wireless bracelets that many parolees are forced to wear. When you're done dealing with your nausea, here's a personal case study that serves as a precedent to chew on. It's proof of the fallibility of not just this sort of technology, but also the mind-boggling seemingly rights-stripping bureaucratic process that festers around it.
Even more shocking are additional ideas that bureaucrats are hatching. A report prepared by a Transportation Department-funded program in Washington state says the GPS bugs must be made "tamper proof" and the vehicle should be disabled if the bugs are disconnected.