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ATS: Missouri May Track Cell Phones for Traffic Data

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posted on Oct, 14 2005 @ 10:26 PM
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Privacy advocates are concerned about a plan in Missouri that will use cell phone signals to track traffic patterns and to alert drivers to avoid congested areas. At this time, all the information gathered from cell phones would be aggregated and anonymous, but naturally those who are sensitive to government abuse are concerned that this seemingly benign technology could be used to invade individual privacy. Similar programs are in place, but lack the ability to send warnings to drivers. San Francisco implemented a traffic monitoring system, but eschewed cell phone data because of sensitivity to privacy concerns.
 



news.yahoo.com
Driving to work, you notice the traffic beginning to slow. And because you have your cell phone on, the government senses the delay, too. A congestion alert is issued, automatically updating electronic road signs and Web sites and dispatching text messages to mobile phones and auto dashboards.

In what would be the largest project of its kind, the Missouri Department of Transportation is finalizing a contract to monitor thousands of cell phones, using their movements to map real-time traffic conditions statewide on all 5,500 miles of major roads.

It's just one of a number of initiatives to more intelligently manage traffic flow through wireless data collection.

Officials say there's no Big Brother agenda in the Missouri project — the data will remain anonymous, leaving no possibility to track specific people from their driveway to their destination.

But privacy advocates are uneasy nonetheless.



Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


This has been a topic of discussion on ATS for quite some time, but this is the first time that such a massive application has been so aggressively sought. As has been noted before, there are at least two ways cell phone signals can be used to locate a given cell phone. One is to triangulate the signals between towers and the other is use the GPS system embedded in most cell phones today.

Personally, I think this is a very good idea and it uses an item almost everyone has these days to improve our lives even beyond the obvious personal communication benefits. If at any time the government grossly abuses such technology, the public can simply turn off their phones to disable the system and use our democratic process to prevent further abuses.

The cell phone is a modern accessory that I once thought I would never embrace, as I have lived for years at a time with no telephone at all. The very idea of being so connected was anathema to me, especially given the price of the devices and services in the early years.

Now, however, my cell phone is my only phone and I am very happy to have it with me at all times. I jealously guard my number and consequently, I enjoy all the benefits without the bother of unnecessary intrusion into my privacy.

I do, however, keep the GPS function on at all times because I have nothing to hide with regard to my whereabouts and the potential benefit in the event of an emergency is very appealing. I, of course, can "pull the plug," so to speak, at any time.

Related News Links:
www.cbsnews.com
www.schneier.com
www.wired.com
www.thejournalnews.com

Related AboveTopSecret.com Discussion Threads:
Cell Phones Used to Spy on Public
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Cell phone conspiracy?

[edit on 2005/10/15 by GradyPhilpott]




posted on Oct, 14 2005 @ 10:35 PM
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I have been anticipating this development for about a year now. Personally, I think it is a good idea that would be beneficial to most people. However, some states already have plans afoot to embed RFID chips in license plates to interalia do the same thing and I don't particularly like that idea.

[edit on 14-10-2005 by Astronomer68]



posted on Oct, 14 2005 @ 10:43 PM
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I agree. There should always be an opt out function. That way the power remains with the people, where it belongs. I feel the same way about traffic cameras.



posted on Oct, 14 2005 @ 11:19 PM
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sadly we will never be able to stop these infringements on our rights to privacy. the people have already lost the power.



posted on Oct, 14 2005 @ 11:34 PM
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Why? the tecnology already exists

Most high traffic metro areas already have camera and radar systems to monitor traffic flow.

The cameras can judge speed by pixal rate change and radar can give direct measurment - why the need for a third method?

Ten years down the road are we to receive tickets based on cell phone distance covered?

Whats the nefarious reason for this when the technology already exists in the systems implemented?

I don't agree that this is a good idea in the long run.

[edit on 14-10-2005 by Phoenix]



posted on Oct, 14 2005 @ 11:59 PM
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Originally posted by Phoenix

Most high traffic metro areas already have camera and radar systems to monitor traffic flow.

The cameras can judge speed by pixal rate change and radar can give direct measurment - why the need for a third method?


I think this quote from the article addresses your questions. The short answer is that it saves taxpayer dollars.



Governments have had the ability to measure traffic volumes and speeds for years. They can embed sensors in pavement, or mount scanners and cameras along the road. But those monitoring methods require the installation of equipment, which must be maintained, and can take only a snapshot of traffic at a particular spot.

In contrast, "almost everyone has a cell phone, so you have a lot of potential data points, and you can track data almost anywhere on the whole (road) system," said Valerie Briggs, program manager for transportation operations at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

news.yahoo.com...



posted on Oct, 15 2005 @ 07:36 AM
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I have to say that I am against it. I don't like having to take this stance but in light of past performance by government, on all levels, this is a function that has the possibility for massive abuse.

Take the "black boxes" being installed in cars these days. Originally a good idea to allow car manufacturers to collect data on car performance and safety. All it took was one District Attorney getting a bright idea and now your car contains a witness against you.

Look at the original concept behind the DUI checkpoint it was supposed to be a visual check for obviously drunk drivers to get them off of the roads before they caused an accident. Now it is just a system of generating money to pay for local police departments.

Tracking traffic congestion by cell phone may seem like a good idea now, but it has the potential to mutate into something awful. It would probably start innocently by someone being accused of a crime and their attorney requesting a ruling from a judge giving them access to the traffic info for the time in question to prove that his client couldn't have committed the crime because they were stuck in traffic across town. Then it would expand to the police looking for someone who say robbed a couple of banks. They would get a judge to allow them to look at the information for specific areas and times to find some people who were in all of the areas at the times of the robberies. This would just keep expanding until the government would actually be tracking everyone's whereabouts.

This is already happening with the E-Z Pass toll paying system. There have been court ordered investigations into toll records to track individual's locations at certain times. It is just a small step from this to having a cop knocking on your door and handing you a citation for doing 70 MPH in a 65 MPH zone on the interstate because they tracked your cellphone.

Another thing here. Can you really turn off your cellphone short of removing the battery? I don't know ALL of the capabilities of my phone do you.



posted on Oct, 15 2005 @ 10:43 AM
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Originally posted by GradyPhilpott


I think this quote from the article addresses your questions. The short answer is that it saves taxpayer dollars.




Governments have had the ability to measure traffic volumes and speeds for years. They can embed sensors in pavement, or mount scanners and cameras along the road. But those monitoring methods require the installation of equipment, which must be maintained, and can take only a snapshot of traffic at a particular spot.

In contrast, "almost everyone has a cell phone, so you have a lot of potential data points, and you can track data almost anywhere on the whole (road) system," said Valerie Briggs, program manager for transportation operations at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

news.yahoo.com...



Grady, it may save money in metro areas without any current system in place.
The area I'm in already has the camera and monitoring radar in place, I see no need for a third layer other than governments patient and incremental intrusion into our daily lives.

One day (if not already) we will have the illusion of freedom, but thats all it will be just an illusion.

Hmmm..................all in the name of conveniance, safety or efficiency - we allow our way of life to be chipped away at.

When people say "they ought to have a law or Government should________ (fill in blank) , I cringe at the thought.



[edit on 15-10-2005 by Phoenix]



posted on Oct, 15 2005 @ 11:27 AM
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Originally posted by Phoenix

Originally posted by GradyPhilpott


I think this quote from the article addresses your questions. The short answer is that it saves taxpayer dollars.




Governments have had the ability to measure traffic volumes and speeds for years. They can embed sensors in pavement, or mount scanners and cameras along the road. But those monitoring methods require the installation of equipment, which must be maintained, and can take only a snapshot of traffic at a particular spot.

In contrast, "almost everyone has a cell phone, so you have a lot of potential data points, and you can track data almost anywhere on the whole (road) system," said Valerie Briggs, program manager for transportation operations at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

news.yahoo.com...



Grady, it may save money in metro areas without any current system in place.
The area I'm in already has the camera and monitoring radar in place, I see no need for a third layer other than governments patient and incremental intrusion into our daily lives.

One day (if not already) we will have the illusion of freedom, but thats all it will be just an illusion.

Hmmm..................all in the name of conveniance, safety or efficiency - we allow our way of life to be chipped away at.

When people say "they ought to have a law or Government should________ (fill in blank) , I cringe at the thought.



[edit on 15-10-2005 by Phoenix]


Unfortunately, we often want to keep the government using wagon train technology in a space age society.

I don't really know how I feel about this situation, but living in Missouri, as I do, allows me a bit of an "insider" view... Missouri government will, generally, embrace something like that, if it sees a way to make a buck or two off of it.

Our state government was incredibly surprising to me, a few years ago, when they allowed the implementation of the concealed carry law. But true to form, they held up on it until they found a way to make it pay the government, regardless of any benefit to the private citizen.

I suspect that this is going to become a nationwide situation as we continue to grow and evolve as a society, and as a techno-culture.

The one thing I have to keep remembering is that the government is not inherently evil, it is simply greedy beyond words. It doesn't really want to take over your life and kill you, it just wants to take your wallet.



posted on Oct, 15 2005 @ 11:41 AM
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The one thing that is different about this technology is that it requires public complicity. I doubt that those jurisdictions with systems already in place are going to ditch those systems just because something new is coming down the pike. As those systems age, then replacement might become cost effective.

The one thing that I like about this, as opposed to the systems currentl used, is that all it would take to disable it is for everyone to just turn off their cell phones while in their cars. A massive boycott of the system would be a powerful message to the government about the use of the data. Most people can do without their phones while they're on the road, although most don't.



posted on Oct, 15 2005 @ 12:00 PM
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Originally posted by GradyPhilpott
The one thing that I like about this, as opposed to the systems currentl used, is that all it would take to disable it is for everyone to just turn off their cell phones while in their cars. A massive boycott of the system would be a powerful message to the government about the use of the data. Most people can do without their phones while they're on the road, although most don't.


I will ask again. How do you know that turning off your cell phone will turn off the tracking chip. The only sure way that I know to "really" turn off my cell phone is to remove the battery and leave it out for several hours. I had a problem with my phone once and this was the answer that I recieved from tech support. The tech told me that there is a capacitor that holds enough power to keep you from losing your settings and personal info while changing a battery. He also told me that your phone is never truely off unless you have removed the battery and discharged this capacitor.



posted on Oct, 15 2005 @ 12:07 PM
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The capacitor has only enough power to save your settings not to send signals. Regardless, there is a way for the public to circumvent the system, even if it means removing the battery, but that is not necessary. Turning off the phone prevents it from sending and receiving signals.




As with cell-phone monitoring, the information received from the Bay area's toll scanners is anonymous. It's also encrypted and destroyed daily. But the local transportation commission went a step further, mailing 250,000 metal bags into which motorists could place their toll devices to prevent them from being monitored along the roads.

Cell phone users could accomplish the same thing by turning off their phones.

news.yahoo.com...





[edit on 2005/10/15 by GradyPhilpott]




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