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August 10, 2005

Big Brother is tracking you

Wired reports on a Department for Transport pilot scheme to test RFID chipped car numberplates here in the UK, with battery powered chips that can broadcast their identity up to 300ft. Considering that we don't have that many toll bridges or roads here, and the congestion charge is limited to London, I wonder what the justification for this would be. What problem do we have that RFID chipped plates would solve?

If they want to use RFID chips to allow people to pay bridge tolls or the congestion charge, why make them embedded in the number plate and not a hand-held device one could leave in the glove compartment or transfer from car to car? If it's about geolocation of stolen cars, well, we already have transponders you can buy that can do that for you.

So what is it about? Identifying speeding motorists as they go past speed cameras? Would the rise in income from fines justify the cost of chipping 25 million cars on our roads? Or is this about location and prosecution of tax and insurance evasion? Trouble is, the DVLA claim they can do from their desks now just by checking their database, so that's not a compelling argument either.

So let's see: The government are wasting our money testing an expensive solution that doesn't actually solve any real problems and which no one in their right minds would want. If they tell us it's for 'security' and to 'crack down on terror'... well, words fail me.

Originally posted on Chocolate and Vodka.

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Comments

Where in the Wired report says that the UK trial would be of the scale of 25 million cars?

The 25 million figure is a rough estimate of the number of cars on the road that could potentially be chipped, not the number of cars in the trial. The number of cars in the trial is not stated.

We are already having our number plates tracked, see:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4372809.stm

Worse than that, you can also be fingerprinted as a result, see:

http://management.silicon.com/government/0,39024677,39145037,00.htm

Here is a Home Office document on the subject of

Denying criminals the use of the road

And the next step is for the government to put a camera into your car, so that any other cars seen by it can be tracked.


Camera spies in million cars to trap toll cheats

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