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Police and Lawyers Love E-ZPass 736

John_Schmidt writes "The AP is reporting that police are using EZ-Pass records to solve crimes. Lawyers are also getting the records to use in divorce cases. The article also mentions that the NYS Thruway has sensors to read the cards along the highway (not just at toll booths) but says the data is scrambled and not stored."
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Police and Lawyers Love E-ZPass

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  • How soon.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joe U ( 443617 ) * on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:06PM (#7695108) Homepage Journal
    How soon before:

    You passed between milepost 1 and 15 in under 6 minutes, here's your speeding ticket.
    • Re:How soon.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ewhenn ( 647989 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:08PM (#7695139)
      Then the real question is how long until I peel that bitch right off of my windshield.

      Answer: Not long at all.

    • Re:How soon.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Politburo ( 640618 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:09PM (#7695144)
      EZ-Pass commissions have always operated under the promise that this would not be done. If it were ever to be enacted, you would see a lot of people dumping EZ-Pass, since many of the roadways in EZ-Pass areas have average traffic speeds over the speed limits, and the cost of even a small speeding ticket is ridiculous with the current insurance regulations and policies.
      • Re:How soon.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:12PM (#7695207)
        maybe for now. Just wait until there is a single tollbooth with a real person and the rest are EZ-Pass.
      • Ahh yes, there are other areas that I have heard of doing this, including areas in Massachusets. I think the ticket only triggers if the average speed is greater than 15 over the limit, which means most speeders don't get tickets anyway...


      • How many times have technologies, Ideas, Concepts been introduced with the premis that it will not be used in ways other than those stated. Then boom new party, new legislation and new use. Example the Homeland Security Act. I think municipalites should be liable for incorrect use of intended resourses. E-ZPass systems are intended for electronic Toll Booths therefore that is what it should be used for anything else should be deemed as abuse !!
      • incentives? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Frisky070802 ( 591229 ) * on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:23PM (#7695341) Journal
        It's possible to do this on a voluntary basis. For instance, I heard of a car rental agency that gave a big discount if you'd use a GPS that would alert them to excessive speeding. Coercion or good business? I could imagine a setup where insurance companies give people money off if they go along with this, and many might be willing to make that tradeoff.
        • Re:incentives? (Score:4, Informative)

          by calyphus ( 646665 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:49PM (#7695596) Journal
          Actually, it wasn't voluntary and they use a penalty clause in their contract to increase revenue. They charge the renters credit card an added 'insurance fee' that increases per mph over limit. (I'll have to search the NPR archives to find it. I'm pretty sure it was a Morning Edition item.)
    • ... like in France, for example...

    • How soon before:

      You passed between milepost 1 and 15 in under 6 minutes, here's your speeding ticket.

      In the UK, a few years ago.

      This is from memory, sorry no link.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      it is happening in California.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        They stamped the date and times on the paper toll tickets for the Pennsylvania Turnpike. When you exited the turnpike, they compared your exit timestamp with the entry timestamp you received when you entered the turnpike. They had a pre-printed table of elapsed times to translate into average miles-per-hour. If you arrived at the exit too soon, you automatically got a speeding violation. My dad narrowly avoided getting a ticket by being less than one minute short of the violation time. He did not tell the
    • Re:How soon.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by axxackall ( 579006 )
      Personally I appreciate it. Changing the speed limit signs to increase should be the only way to move faster, not violation of existing ones.

      Now if the highway is not busy most (if not all drivers) are violating the law by speeding. It's bad because it creates a style of thinking: "it's ok beacuse everyone's doing the same". No need to mention that many people are dead from speeding.

      But, I repeat again, if the highway speed is unreasonable low then you should use your democracy, with which you are so pr

      • by MrChuck ( 14227 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:38PM (#7695492)
        Survey the speed people are driving on the road.
        Select the 85 percentile of that for the speed limit.
        Enter politics, so write down 55 or 65 no matter how safe the road is.

        Oh, and the standards used for road speed is still 1950's vehicles on skinny tires, no matter that even cheap cars have anti-lock brakes.

        So yes, if speed limits had ANYTHING to do with what the roads could bear, perhaps we're respect the signs. Again: if the laws were based on reason (*cough*), they'd be respected. When speed limits are imposed because to raise ticket money, then it's wrong and the authoritive gov't needs to be kicked in the knees for it.

        And instead of the police enforcing safe driving by ticketing people cruising along in the leftmost lane without passing anyone, or for lane changes without signals, or for eating/phoning while driving taking important attention away from piloting a 3000lb SUV at 90 feet per second...
        No, they'll enforce "speeding laws" only.

        Clearly, when I'm on a Calif Superhighway with few people on it - a road that's larger and its in better shape than parts of the autobahn I've seen - clearly, it's only safe for 65 when going 110 on the autobahn was almost dangerously slow. Because a sign says so.

        Give me a driving test that 40% of the people fail the first time they try it, give me road that you have to have the "proven able" license to drive and I'll go for it.

        RE: EZ Pass? It's in a lead bag (for film) in the glove box when I'm not going through a toll booth.

        After our officials "promised" and swore up and down it would only be used for tolls, NJ and NY authorities have been caught MANY times abusing this.

        Ready for your implanted RFID yet sir?
        Bend over now

        The parent may have an extra dose of soma for his obedience.

        • by pipingguy ( 566974 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @09:00PM (#7696264)
          Survey the speed people are driving on the road. Select the 85 percentile of that for the speed limit.

          That's how the roadway designers originally established recommended speed limits (by observing behaviour and implementing rules to accomodate the majority of drivers). Politicians tend to use speed limits as revenue generation schemes and "please think of the children" emotion-tugging.
      • Re:How soon.. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AntiOrganic ( 650691 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:59PM (#7695697) Homepage
        I don't agree with this line of thinking. Typically, when speeding isn't enforced, it's for a reason -- the officer realizes that if the person is going over the speed limit, but is driving responsibly -- staying in the center of their lane, not constantly changing lanes and cutting people off -- they're not a danger. The danger comes from people who drive aggressively, and these people are threatening at any speed. Speeding laws provide a pretext to pull these people over, because "he thought I was driving too aggressively" is debatable in court due to its subjectivity. "My radar clocked him going 10 miles over the speed limit," however, is much harder to refute.

        Now if the highway is not busy most (if not all drivers) are violating the law by speeding. It's bad because it creates a style of thinking: "it's ok beacuse everyone's doing the same". No need to mention that many people are dead from speeding.

        First off, if everyone on the 55 MPH freeway is driving a 75 MPH and you're moving at 20 MPH below the speed of traffic, you are yourself creating a potential traffic hazard, so you would be more likely to be involved in an accident, possibly the result of road rage, at the speed limit than at the speed of traffic.

        How can someone be dead from speeding? If the road is wet and someone skids and wraps around a telephone pole at 60 miles per hour, do you really think the effect is going to be that different than at 55 miles per hour? If they're driving faster than that in the rain, the issue is that their car is going faster than it and/or the driver can safely handle in those conditions -- it has little to do with what number appears on the sign.

        Again, I'd like to see some conclusive studies that speed limits actually help these situations. There's always a political or emotional spin on statistics released. How many of people killed in 85 MPH accidents were drunk? How many managed to fall asleep at the wheel? How many were talking on a cell phone? Obviously it helps somewhat but I'm curious just how much.
        • Re:How soon.. (Score:3, Informative)

          by Barbarian ( 9467 )
          Kinetic energy goes up with the square of speed. This is what tears your car apart when you hit something.

          You mentioned 3 speeds, 55, 60, and 75

          55^2/55^2 = 1
          60^2/55^2 = 1.19
          75^2/55^2 = 1.86

          So you see, a bit of change in speed does make a difference.

    • Re:How soon.. (Score:2, Informative)

      by firebeaker ( 52242 )
      In the past, I think NJ might have done that from the data from the tickets... ie, you take the ticket when you entered the highway, exited 80 miles away, and the time difference was 60 minute - BINGO, you were speeding.

      In cases like that, they could go after the people who take tickets just as easily as those with EZ-Pass (or Fastlane in MA etc)

      • Re:How soon.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Misch ( 158807 )
        Possibly, but it would only be a moving violation against the registrant of the car. The system would be unable to prove who was driving it. Much the same way how cameras at intersections work.

        No points for your license.
    • Re:How soon.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:14PM (#7695231)
      In nearly every place that is not enough evidence to prove speeding. Similar things were tried with paper toll booth tickets, and judges tossed them out.

      That said, why does anyone have a problem with this? Highways are public. Where you go is [largely] public information. If you have a problem with speeding laws, change the laws, not the enforcement. Would people be less upset if they paid tons more money to post a guy with photographic memory at each toll booth and watch everoyne go by?

      The only problem I have is that people aren't more honest about the system.
    • In Illinois, toll booths have cameras that photograph the license plates of vehicles that go through a toll lane without paying. OCR software deciphers the plate number and a ticket can be issued without human review.

      A simple software change can expand the system to issue speeding tickets.

      Obstinately insisting on stopping and using coins is probably just a meaningless gesture.
    • Re:How soon.. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      How soon before...

      Not soon enough, IMHO. Imagine how many countless lives could be saved by using this technology to get wreckless assholes who can't drive safely off the road. So called "privacy advocates" be damned, there's absolutely nothing a reasonable person could consider private about the speed of a car on a public road.

    • Re:How soon.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pizzaman100 ( 588500 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:44PM (#7695556) Journal
      You passed between milepost 1 and 15 in under 6 minutes, here's your speeding ticket.

      That means you're doing over 150 miles per hour. You deserve a ticket. :)

      • Re:How soon.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by tnak ( 163802 )
        no, no, no. you made a 4th grade word problem error.

        it's not 15 miles, it's 14 miles. 15 minus 1.

        so he was only doing slightly in excess of 140 miles per hour.

    • Re:How soon.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:52PM (#7695630)
      > You passed between milepost 1 and 15 in under 6 minutes, here's your speeding ticket.

      That would make it highly obvious to criminals that everyone was being tracked. Criminals would cease using EZ-Pass.

      A properly designed mass surveillance systems must be unobtrusive; you have to give the target the illusion that he or she is not being monitored. If the target is aware they're being tracked, they'll modify their behavior to "look good" for the cameras.

      Whether you're more concerned about property rights or nonintrusive government, consider that as implemented, the EZ-Pass tracking system is one where the designers and participating governments have chosen to pass up the huge revenue from 10000 speeders a day, and they did so in order to increase the odds that the sonofabitch who stole your car last week gets nailed to the wall the instant he hits the interstate. Dude, that's a feature, not a bug!

  • Why Wait? (Score:5, Funny)

    by tedgyz ( 515156 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:07PM (#7695118) Homepage
    Let's just get those RFID tags injected into our necks and get this over with. It is inevitable.
  • And why not??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blankmange ( 571591 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:07PM (#7695121)
    Do you sign a contract that states your usage of the EZ-Pass will not be tracked/used/etc...? Probably not, so if you allow yourself to be tracked and are doing illegal/illicit activities, it boils down to you aren't smart enough to be a good criminal...
    • Re:And why not??? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 )
      EZ-Pass stores only the data that's needed to bill you, and no matter what a court can always demand that be turned over if there's a good reason to.

      The non-toll sensors mentioned in the article are intentionally designed not to identify users, just to allow the Thruway authority to track the average speeds on the road. The state authorities really don't have much incentive to write speeding tickets for reasons reasons other than safety in New York State, because the fines are payable to the city or town i
  • by bobthemuse ( 574400 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:08PM (#7695132)
    Send me your EZ-pass and $5, I'll put in a small push-button switch. Only activate it when you're not out doing illegal things :-)
    • Re:Simple solution (Score:5, Informative)

      by Politburo ( 640618 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:11PM (#7695184)
      The EZ-Pass transponder comes with an anti-static bag which blocks transmission of signals to the device, in case you may wish to pay the toll by other means. The EZ-Pass instructions implore you to keep the bag in your glove compartment at all times.
  • Instant Alibi!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vaguelyamused ( 535377 ) <jsimons@rocketmail.com> on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:10PM (#7695172)
    This could work both ways. Give your EZ pass to your buddy(or clone it and attach it someone's car) and send them on their way.
    • Instant accessory to a felony -- "We have documented evidence that you drove or rode with the suspect..."
    • this has actually happened - not with ezpass but with mobile phones.
      in a certain (rather spectacular) murder trial in Norway, one suspect's mobile phone was on an extended trip very far away from the murder site at the time, tracked by your ever-friendly telco's "cell tower association records". We do not know if the suspect went along.....
  • ALERT ALERT!!!! This is even worse than having to have a LICENSE PLATE! I don't want anyone else, (LET ALONE POLICE!) knowing who I am.
    • by pla ( 258480 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:24PM (#7695346) Journal
      This is even worse than having to have a LICENSE PLATE! I don't want anyone else, (LET ALONE POLICE!) knowing who I am.

      I realize you meant that as a joke, but some of us don't want our whereabouts known at every second of every day. This has nothing to do with paranoia (beyond the standard healthy dose), or a penchant for illegal activities. I just don't want my every move tracked.

      Also, realize that this has a huge potential for abuse... I go through a toll perhaps once a month. If I had one of these EZ Passes (or the local equivalent, the TransPass), I would not notice for up to a month if someone stole it and had earned me quite a bit of debt. Now, even aside from the bill, what happens when my TransPass record for the past month shows me regularly visiting a mistress, or a crime scene, or some other place I've never gone, all because someone thought ahead of time to cover their tracks and use a stolen TransPass? Yeah, suuuuuuure the police/divorce-attourney will believe someone nabbed by pass and I just didn't notice...

      This boils down to the classic argument about speed cameras - they don't prove a driver, just a vehicle. Although some may justify the inconvenience (personally, I find it reprehensible) of getting a ticket after loaning out your car to a friend, the situation goes from "annoyance" to potentially "pound-me-in-the-ass-prison" or "lose-everything-to-ex-wifey" when records like these suffice as "evidence" of the actual driver in court. I do not consider that even remotely acceptible, nor should any of us.
      • by Steffan ( 126616 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @08:01PM (#7695715)
        I think it's actually pointless to argue too much about EZ-Pass being tracked. As soon as its potential use in court becomes obvious, the states will just start including RFID tags embedded in license plates. I don't think *that* will be an opt-out situation...
      • by MrChuck ( 14227 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @08:23PM (#7695940)
        Ever try to check into a hotel without ID and using cash?

        I tried this once. I was in a downtown area and staying extra time and had to change hotels.
        No car, just me and a bag. Credit card was close to maxxed and I was surfing ATMs until a payment got through.

        The hotel wouldn't do it.
        I gave my (real) name. No address (not their business) and offered to pay whatever deposit they needed. Not a fancy hotel, not a dive. Just a holiday inn class hotel. I needed a room and a desk. I was at the clients site for 15 hrs/day anyway.

        What is wrong that you cannot travel in this country without identification papers?

        /me wonders how John Gilmore's case is going where he refused to present ID at the airport.

        Contrary to their words, there are ZERO laws that you must show state issued identification to travel. More, any 9/11 terrorists HAD IDs that were just fine. So it's not been an issue in the past. At least they dropped the useless "did you pack your own bags" question. the only incidents that ever occurred in that light were when a SPOUSE was trying to do in a partner.

  • Freedom of Choice. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:10PM (#7695176)
    Convenience? Privacy?
    Convenience? Privacy?

    Decisions, decisions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:13PM (#7695210)
    I will shortly be selling a kit that allows you to clone an EZ-pass card through my regular channels (read: guys in the states who advertise in the back of magazines sell COD) for selling cable descramblers. My hand held tag reader, concealable as a road side rock with a battery that lasts 3 days, is priced out the range of causual snoopers -- but some reporters have already used to collect the tag ids of a number of celebraties and politicians and start monitoring them.
  • No problem at all for me, my EZPass literally saves me hours a week since I'm on the NJ Turnpike regularly.

    If I was planning on doing something seriously illegal, I'd just ditch the tag first. The cops who got caught claiming false overtime deserved it, not because they did wrong, but because they were stupid enough to think they weren't leaving an auditable trail behind them.


    • If I was planning on doing something seriously illegal, I'd just ditch the tag first

      I'm beginning to believe we will never be able to get people to understand that government snooping is worrisome even to law-abiding citizens. They came for the Jews, and I wasn't Jewish...

      Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the transportation authorities routinely delete their tracking info so that even a subpeona can't retrieve it.
  • Paper trail for IRS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:15PM (#7695241)

    I used to work for a home contractor in the NYC suburbs. We crossed the Hudson river every day over the Tappan Zee bridge, and used EZ-Pass to pay the tolls. (Those out of the area, please be patient.) Now, contractors are notorious for taking cash payments whenever possible, and how much of this income they report in taxes is no doubt a small fraction.

    So, what happens when any one of these contractors, or businessmen in similar circumstances, has their tax returns audited? How long will it be until EZ-Pass and other similar systems are used to "establish a pattern": meaning, evidence that you do business every day of the year, even though you report your income as seasonal, occasional or whatever?

    And that's just taxes!!!

    We're being watched, and the full implications of this are scary.

    • by Servo ( 9177 ) <dstringf&gmail,com> on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:39PM (#7695509) Journal
      First off, in your scenario you are suggesting that the IRS will audit you and find out you are cheating on your taxes. That's illegal, and whatever happens to you or whoever else doing something illegal that gets caught by this will get no sympathy from anybody.

      With that said, I don't see how establishing a pattern that you went over the tappan zee every day as to show how much money are you actually bringing in. If you claiming you are only making $24k a year, when you live in a $300k house and drive your $30k truck over the Tappan Zee every day, there are a multitude of ways to figure it out.
  • Duh... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Misch ( 158807 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:17PM (#7695265) Homepage
    New York businessman Solomon Friedman ... Anyone with technical savvy, he said, could track radio signals from the cards. He designed a pouch a driver can store the card in, blocking the signal when not in the toll lane.

    Dipshit didn't design it, you get one of those from E-Z Pass when you get your tag. Maybe he made one that looks a little less like an anti-static bag that a computer component would come in, bu it's not original.
  • Cell phones too (Score:5, Informative)

    by homer_ca ( 144738 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:17PM (#7695276)
    Don't forget that other tracking device that we all carry, cell phones. It's constantly transmitting while powered on. Right now, the phone company only logs your location by cell site, a radius of many miles. Police could still find someone by triangulating their signal with specialized (meaning expensive) equipment, but E911 [fcc.gov] changes all that. They'll be required to pinpoint the location of any caller by 50-100 meters.
  • FasTrak (Score:5, Interesting)

    by horsie ( 91009 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:19PM (#7695293)
    Here in California, we have FasTrak. They already acknowledge that they use sensors on the road to determine traffic conditions. They also said that you can opt-out of this. They even supply the mylar bags so that you don't get tracked this way. They sent out a letter informing users of this earlier this year and even sent an additional mylar bag.

    The FAQ [ca.gov] for Fastrak mentions the mylar bags in relation to carpool lanes. Same principle for traffic conditions.
  • New level but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by neiffer ( 698776 ) *
    Well, yes, this is disturbing...but is it any different than the amazing records kept on us financially?
  • by phr1 ( 211689 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:23PM (#7695339)
    An awful lot of tollbooths also have license plate cameras, so who needs EZpass? Maybe they're just going to analog video recordings for now, but one assumes the license plate images are easy to OCR and that can be done in real time soon enough. I'm sure I could easily do it with a webcam. Of course once all tires have RFID, then every magnetic traffic light sensor and parking meter can have RFID readers built in.
    • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @08:05PM (#7695751)
      Maybe they're just going to analog video recordings for now, but one assumes the license plate images are easy to OCR and that can be done in real time soon enough

      Already been done in England.

      Someone once recounted to me how a video-based speed camera would take a snapshot of the plate, do OCR on it...and, wait for it....do a lookup against the UK motor vehicle registry. About 500 feet down the road was a digital sign, and it would display personalized messages. As in, "Mr. Bean, you are going over the speed limit, please slow down".

      I think he said it freaked out people enough(surprising, given how London has more security cameras than people -wanna see 1984? Go to the UK) that it was pulled.

  • by DaRat ( 678130 ) * on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:23PM (#7695344)

    The Houston area version is called EZ-Tag. In addition to the "go through the toll booths" quickly aspect, data is fed into the Houston TranStar [tamu.edu] system along most of the major freeways.

    The TranStar site is great because you can easily get an idea of traffic conditions before leaving your home/office. Interesting data includes historical speed graphs.

    The automatic garage doors at our office building can also be set up to read the EZ-Tag and automatically open the doors when we pull up.

  • One Pass... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:25PM (#7695365) Homepage Journal
    One Pass To rule them all
    One Pass to find them
    One Pass to bring them all
    And in the darkness, bind them

    Thank you, Sir Rudy Giuliani, former NYC prosecutor, for pushing the E-Z Pass on us when you were NYC mayor, yapping about "court orders" and "due process" for access to the data. Now you can see all the motorists on the East Coast shining in your Palantir.
  • by loraksus ( 171574 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:25PM (#7695372) Homepage
    In the last couple of years, there has been a greater push to get "tough on crime" (or appear so, but we won't split hairs here, will we?) which basically means "put more people in prison than we did last year"

    Because of this push and the fact that various law enforcement / "civil defense" agencies aren't really "up with the times" (sheer incompetence and the apparant inability to convict someone in a "regular court" might be a better way of stating this), in order to keep up - these same folks HAVE to turn to technology and to to push through poorly written legislation (or interpret it in interesting ways)in order to make their "quota".

    Dunno, I probably have no credibility, but my belief that law enforcement is embracing all these new things is not because they are new, but they are too incompetent to keep up their statistics using traditional means. /shrug
  • Metrocard vs EZPass (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Saeger ( 456549 ) <farrellj@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:26PM (#7695377) Homepage
    I can buy and refill my Metrocard ANONYMOUSLY. If that wasn't the case -- if I had no other choice than to have it linked to me personally -- then I would still be using those ancient subway tokens.

    With EZPass, you don't have the option to pay cash and remain anonymous - you MUST be linked to thing even though there's no good reason for this to be the ONLY option. I can understand that some people don't give a shit about privacy and want to billed, but I'm guessing that there's a LOT of people out there just like me (in the cashonly lane) who would rather prepay in cash and be left alone.

    I'm wondering if it would be illegal to setup a EZPass proxy organization?


    • The difference between EZPass and the Metrocard is that if you attempt to enter the turnstyles with an empty Metrocard, the system can stop you. You cannot be stopped from going through an EZPass lane with an empty card. If users had an option to do this anonymously, EZPass lanes would soon disappear as more and more people would just allow the pass to empty and still go through the booth. I am also not sure the privacy debate is valid because your license plate can still be photographed and the car's ow
  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:26PM (#7695379) Homepage Journal
    In Houston, Texas, the highway department has placed transponders all over the highway system... not just on the tollways [hctra.com], but on the freeways as well. This data is used to create very cool real-time maps [tamu.edu] of traffic conditions.

    Since the transponders are compatible with other Amtech/TransCore [transcore.com] systems, even vehicles from Oklahoma [pikepass.com], Dallas [ntta.org], and other cities help keep the map up to date. In fact, the Dallas and Houston tollway systems are now interconnected -- the same tag will let you cruise through both systems.

    Of course, the privacy implications of this convenience have been obvious from the beginning. If you have the need or desire for true anonymity, though, you're not in the market for a (non-disposable) cell phone or a TollTag anyway.
  • by HarveyBirdman ( 627248 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:29PM (#7695419) Journal
    If you're going someplace you don't want recorded, put the freeway pass into the trunk. Duh.
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:37PM (#7695485)
    There could be advertisements personalized to our name and consumer characteristics triggered by RFIDs. Just like in Minority Report. Although they used biometrics rather than RFIDs.
  • IBM Commercial (Score:3, Insightful)

    by calyphus ( 646665 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @07:43PM (#7695539) Journal
    IBM has been running a commercial recently with three 'tech guys' discussing an EZ pass with two of them implying to the third that he's a fool for not having the pass. Whereas my reaction has always been that he's the smart one for not submitting to having his every trip filed in a database.
  • by snevig ( 555801 ) on Thursday December 11, 2003 @08:04PM (#7695742)
    If you keep a daily routine & use the EZ Pass on your way to & from work, you would incriminate yourself if you didn't use the card, say, on the way home the same day someone in your office was murdered after hours. It would be circumstantial evidence, but nonetheless it would give the police cause to put your life under a microscope.

    I think there may have been a Law & Order episode that revolved around this idea.
  • by mi ( 197448 ) <slashdot-2016q1@virtual-estates.net> on Thursday December 11, 2003 @09:06PM (#7696335) Homepage Journal

    Why do they insist on this devices being registered and what not? Why can't I anonymously buy and/or recharge it at a gas station? If it can be done with cell phones, it is certainly possible with these -- much simpler -- devices.

    I suspect, it is so by design. We are dealing with the government, after all...

  • by ticklemeozmo ( 595926 ) <justin.j.novack @ a cm.org> on Friday December 12, 2003 @01:18AM (#7698040) Homepage Journal
    "There is no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to track down criminials. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so things to be a crime that it is impossible to live without breaking any laws."

    -- Ayn Rand, "Atlas Shrugged"

Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete successfully in business. Cheat. -- Ambrose Bierce