Did you hear the news back in September about a man whose EZ Pass transponder, which he hacked into in order to set an alert every time the device was accessed, was being read in places nowhere near a toll? Well if you didn’t, it actually happened. He even caught the moment the device was accessed on camera, posting it to YouTube.
EZ Pass officials responded, claiming that the ID associated with the tag — which would identify your personal information — is scrambled in order to protect your privacy. What’s more, each time your device is read, officials say that the data is only stored for a few minutes, deleted after matching up the data of the last read.
It highlights the main concern people have with devices such as this one: Big Brother is watching. And it’s not just EZ pass transponders that are being monitored. The Daily Telegraph has reported that the Highways Agency in the UK is also keeping an eye on its drivers by accessing various devices like GPS trackers and cell phones in order to keep an eye on traffic patterns to figure out how to alleviate congestion.
The government says the information is all anonymous, sent to them by mobile phone service providers and other agencies that collect GPS location data. Regardless of whether or not people remain anonymous, the problem lies in the fact they have no clue the data is even being used in this fashion.
It Doesn’t Stop There
The article goes on to disclose retail stores are also using location data extracted from GPS trackers in smartphones connected to the mall’s Wi-Fi connection. In this case, they are looking to see which stores shoppers visit and how long they’re there for.
And again, shoppers haven’t the slightest clue their movements throughout the mall are being watched. Shouldn’t there be some form of disclosure? Shouldn’t shoppers know that by signing on to the mall’s Wi-Fi connection they might be subject to this monitoring?
The Highways Agency is testing out the idea, gathering location data from both smartphones and GPS trackers in vehicles, in two trials. One trial involves what they call “historic” data, basically data gathered prior to the point they are actually accessing it, to analyze traffic patterns. The second trial is “real time,” gathering actual location data that will allegedly help motorists get around accidents and other traffic woes.
The historic data is gathered from cell phone service providers, who provide the Highways Agency with the specific time a vehicle with a GPS tracker or smartphone enters a certain area. The real-time data gathered comes straight from the GPS trackers and smartphone apps themselves.
A New Age
Traffic is known to be a big problem in the UK, and it’s only going to get worse according to analysts with the Department of Transport — a 19 percent increase by 2025. This is a radical new way to manage traffic, but is it the right way? That’s a question that authorities are going to have to answer soon.
There are ethical ways to track vehicles, though, and you can track any vehicle that’s company property – so keep that in mind. And keep us in mind when it comes to finding the right GPS tracker for your fleet!