Duped by the Hollywood Tracking Myth

In response to the Lost: Dutch Courage blog that has upset many people, comes the most unfortunate (and commonly believed!) of all responses…
Bertram said...

One thing you failed to mention: the road pricing scheme would [have been] enforced with GPS-powered black boxes in each vehicle. No matter what you think of mobility management, you should be very worried when the government starts collecting detailed whereabouts data on the majority of its citizens.

As a non-driving Dutch citizen I'm glad the scheme is gone... had it been implemented with cameras to charge motorists when they accessed certain zones I would have been emphatically in favour of the scheme, but the way it was proposed was just too Orwellian to trust the government with.
The fact that Bertram is a non-driver, means that he likely carries an unfair portion of the burden of unfettered congestion. If he is mobile, even under the care of others, he would tend to shoulder a share of the financial (hidden tax) and health cost. He would tend to be stuck in traffic when he uses bus, bike, carpool, ambulance, etc.

Bertram has been misled by conspiracy theorists, as have many others, including some planners describing these systems. GPS by itself cannot track you.  Only additional capabilities to return your whereabouts to a service outside your vehicle can track you.  Bertram is assuming, as do many that road-pricing system look like tracking systems for trucking-logistics – an especially foolish way for a government to deploy a GPS-based road-use charging system. The International Working Group on Data Protection in Telecommunications has been vey clear about this: [1] preservation of driver anonymity using either “smart clients” or “anonymous proxy”, [2] that personal data including location data always remain under the control of the driver, [3] that off-board location record keeping is not required, [4] that detailed trip data be fully and permanently deleted from the on-board system as soon as charges have been settled, [5] that the system is prevented from creating movement profiles and function-creep, [6] that processing of personal data for additional purposes only be possible with clear and unambiguous consent from the individual, [7] and that system enforcement not require or capture any personal data unless there is evidence that the driver has committed a violation of the road pricing system.

Remarkably, what is little considered is that GPS IS THE ONLY TOLLING TECHNOLOGY THAT CAN BE FULLY ANONYMOUS Cameras capture the whereabouts of your vehicle whenever they see your vehicle; DSRC and RFID do the same. Even the fuel tax tracks you if you pay for your gas with a credit card, since your gas transaction has a time and location stamp. GPS can do its job entirely inside your vehicle never sending ANY location information outside of your vehicle. Ironically, the technology Bertram is mortally afraid of is the only one that can guarantee him the anonymity he desires (and has a right to).

Now Bertram and many others will continue to believe what the press and his friends tell him.  Conspiracy is far too fascinating and Government trust is on the wane. Nonetheless, I would entreat Bertram to find out more for himself. What Bertram COULD do is [1] assume road-pricing will one day happen (it will); and [2] set up a citizens' watch-dog to ensure his government conforms to the IWGDPT guideline. It is always better to arm yourself than sit quaking in your armchair.

Freedom of movement is a basic human right.

This will get you started.

1 comment:

tono-bungay said...

The misunderstanding of this fundamental feature of GPS is distressing.

Here is someone who is very much behind
VMT-based charging, who bravery claims that in can be made more private with a technology like Bluetooth, unaware of the fact that it is perfectly anonymous until Bluetooth is brought in.