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Secret UK Network Hunts GPS Jammers 228

Posted by samzenpus
from the hunt-you-down dept.
garymortimer writes "A secret network of 20 roadside listening stations across the UK has confirmed that criminals are attempting to jam GPS signals on a regular basis. From the article: 'Government-funded trials involving the police have revealed more than a hundred incidents of GPS jammer use in the UK. The Sentinel project, which has been running since January 2011, was designed to measure GPS jamming on UK roads. The project, run by GPS-tracking company Chronos Technology, picked up the illegal jamming incidents via four GPS sensors in trials lasting from two to six months per location.'"
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Secret UK Network Hunts GPS Jammers

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  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:19AM (#39134363)

    Redirect a GPS equipped armored car to your secret criminal location and land it safely. Just like the Iranians did with the drone.

    In old movies, criminals used fake "Detour" signs to re-route trucks carrying loot. Criminals are just getting high-tech savvy.

  • by slimjim8094 (941042) <slashdot3@justconnected . n et> on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:21AM (#39134383)

    I can't speak for the UK, but it is absolutely illegal in the US. I'd go as far as say it's one of the most illegal things you could do with radio, in that it's about the most egregious use of deliberate "harmful interference" around. It would be illegal if they were trying to block Joe Frank's Tree Service walkie-talkies, but GPS is very highly used, very highly depended on, and not only governmental but military. Anybody doing serious GPS jamming effective over a few miles would be found in an hour - probably less. Seriously, the military invented it to know where they were. Planes use it to land (not without fallbacks...). I wouldn't screw around with it if I were trying to stay quiet, because you'll get a lot of guys that are a lot smarter and a lot more serious than the local PD on your tail in a hurry.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:30AM (#39134441)

    My first guess was that I could see it being done here in the US to block lowjack and other tracking systems when you steal a car.

    And RTFM says that and people use it to evade company vehicle tracking systems. I guess that a gps system could be used to record when you drove to fast. Parked in front of someplace unsavory. If I was the company, I would want to know why my vehicle was reporting np signal for so long and why the odometer did not match the GPS. You could get away with it once or twice with saying it was broken. However, with a company vehicle, I think tinfoil sheilding would work better.

    My guess is that it is used for "extra" journeys. You know, when you mention that you need a freezer moving and some guy says he will use the works van and do it for £10. They probably have to jam if for the whole journey so the company think its parked up for the evening.

  • Paranoid much?

    In any case, the entire reason we have the FCC is precisely because you don't get to decide how other people use radio. You're not allowed to jam GPS because you don't like it. That would be like shooting down a plane because it flew over your house.

    Sure, if you wanted to jam GPS for a 20 foot radius, people probably won't notice. But GPS is a global system of great importance - planes can use it to navigate, not to mention millions of people just trying to make it to their relatives' houses, or find the nearest pizza place. Not to mention, it's military. They'd have something to say about your "I'll block GPS!" plan, I'm sure.

    But let's accept the premise. Let's say for the benefit of the doubt that you didn't know the sorts of things GPS is actually used for. Can I jam the police frequency so they can't operate near my house? "Fuck da police" doesn't count. How about the fire department? ATC communications? Hospital pagers? WiFi? The local radio station while it's airing Rush Limbaugh, because I don't like him?

    Most radio is licensed, including GPS. You have to abide by rules to use a licensed service, but it grants you protection from interference. You as an individual don't get to decide that this particular licensed service can just be interfered with because it pisses you off.

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:52AM (#39134547) Homepage Journal

    evasion of company-vehicle or covert tracking

    Yeah there is a scandal here in Australia at the moment with a trucking company disabling speed limiters. Corrupting GPS trace information would be the other half of the picture.

  • by digitig (1056110) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:05AM (#39134593)

    Paranoid much?

    In any case, the entire reason we have the FCC is precisely because you don't get to decide how other people use radio.

    The FCC has less power in the UK than you seem to think.

    You're not allowed to jam GPS because you don't like it.

    Did you notice that the summary referred to illegal GPS jamming?

    Not to mention, it's military.

    But not UK military. I doubt the DoD will be interested unless they're planning to invade the UK.

    Most radio is licensed, including GPS.

    That's arguable, actually. And because it's such low power, harmonics and spurious emissions from high powered transmitters that are entirely within legal limits can jam GPS -- there have been problems reported from TV transmitters, for instance.

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:11AM (#39134625)
    .... because a national power grid would rely entirely on a wireless signal and have no redundancy whatsoever
  • by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:48AM (#39134743) Homepage

    Listening to police radio isn't something they can track.

    Broadcasting a signal on GPS frequencies...this seems stupid even by criminal standards. It's just asking to be stopped/searched (assuming the police get detectors, which they probably will after this report).

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:54AM (#39134781) Homepage

    Depends on your definition of "criminal".

    GPS navigation is generally a good thing. GPS tracking is a slippery thing, seen by some as an invasion of privacy. The vehicle owner should be entitled to know where their property is, but it is none of their business where I go and what I do during the day. Insurance companies would love to hike premiums based on where you park, where you eat, how many mistresses you entertain, or those brief stops in the seedy part of town.

    I cannot speak for the UK, but in some parts of the world, you can get fined for speeding in a rental vehicle - by the rental company, not the police! I would gladly jam a device used to defraud me in such fashion. Traffic management is a police matter, not a private one.

    On one hand, GPS tracking can help against theft, or at least facilitate recovery. On the other hand, it opens up a wealth of possibilities for abuse. The dilemma is in deciding if the pros outweigh the cons (no pun intended).

  • by Feefers (985994) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:59AM (#39134807) Homepage
    Besides we don't need GPS, we can use the vast CCTV network to track you far better.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2012 @06:18AM (#39134849)

    Usual solution to that is to drive it into a shipping container and strip the tracker out in that.

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @06:32AM (#39134891)

    FTA: "Our modern society is almost completely reliant on GPS," Humphreys told the conference. "It could be deadly."

    Well sorry I'm but it shouldn't be. Any critical systems should have backup systems such as using cellphone towers to triangulate or LORAN or even just plain old maps. Any society which puts all its eggs into a basket that can easily be knocked over is just asking for trouble.

  • by Electricity Likes Me (1098643) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:01AM (#39135259)

    "Criminals" aren't attempting anything.

    Random kids who wonder about signal jamming are looking up the plans online and testing out just how easy it is to do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2012 @08:14AM (#39135315)

    Regardless of the privacy issues involved in GPS use, GPS jamming is not an acceptable solution. Your jammer will interfere with other people trying to use GPS unless you're using it away from public roads and flightpaths, in the middle of nowhere. GPS is used in a vast number of ways, many of which are not obvious - elsewhere in the comments somebody pointed out that GPS timing signals are used in regulating power grid frequency for instance.

  • by 1s44c (552956) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @09:09AM (#39135567)

    You are truly delusional.

    The one part of that that makes any rational sense is the bit about the UK wanting a non-US GPS system but you have the reasoning all wrong. The UK wants a non-US system because if they are tied into the US system the US can charge anything for it. Sure the US hasn't charged yet AFAIK but they could do the future.

    You always have multiple suppliers, it's a basic principle of not getting ripped off.

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