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Cellphones Communications Handhelds Privacy

Moscow To Track Cell-phone Users In 2015 For Traffic Analysis 63

An anonymous reader links to this story at The Stack (based on this translated report) that "The Moscow authorities will begin using the signal from Muscovites' cell-phones in 2015 to research patterns of traffic and points of congestion, with a view to changes in travel infrastructure including roads, the Moscow metro and bus services. The tracking, which appears to opt all users in unilaterally, promises not to identify individual cell-phone numbers, and will use GSM in most cases, but also GPS in more densely-constructed areas of the old city. The system is already in limited use on the roads, but will be extended to pedestrians and subway users in 2015. The city of 11.5 million people has three main cell providers, all of whom cooperate fully with authorities' request for information. A representative of one, Beeline, said: "We prepare reports that detail where our subscribers work, live, move, and other aspects."
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Moscow To Track Cell-phone Users In 2015 For Traffic Analysis

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  • Wow ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @10:16AM (#48855975) Homepage

    So, does this mean that Russia is finally catching up with the US in terms of monitoring its citizens?

    The mind reels.

    Papers please, comrade.

    • So, does this mean that Russia is finally catching up with the US in terms of monitoring its citizens?

      The mind reels.

      Papers please, comrade.

      In Putin's Russia the traffic watches YOU!

    • Re:Wow ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @11:05AM (#48856327) Homepage Journal

      They're beating us in this one.

      Current traffic monitoring systems use either CC video analysis, ramp meters, magnetic loop, or blue tooth detection. I've heard of systems to pick up tire pressure indicator signals also, but I haven't seen them first hand.

      With all of that, we get ~5-7% of the vehicle speed data on select routes.

      In 2017 new requirements go into effect to require all vehicles produced for use in the US to include V2V communications systems. Most of these systems also include V2I communications. Even if they don't, I'd expect detecting that a specific V2V entity just drove past is going to be trivial.

      So by the end of 2017, we're going to be on parity with all of our current assorted solutions for penetration. By the end of 2018, we'll have double the penetration. By 2020, roughly 20-25% of all vehicles will contain V2V and/or V2I communications.

      So what does that mean? It means we could generate optimum route data and re-route traffic based on travel time recommendations before they get onto a major road with limited access and a traffic issue on the desired route.

      It also means we can identify true bottlenecks and take completely new approaches to road engineering and project prioritization. This alone is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, funded largely by tax payers. If we can find more efficient ways of taking on these projects, it means less expenditures (or more projects).

      But it comes with down sides. A policing agency could in theory query the system to see where you currently are, or where your vehicle was at a specific time. It also makes it possible for the mile traveled road tax, where you can be taxed by mile driven, and those taxes can vary and be distributed by municipalities that own those roads. And of course there is a security concern that a hacker or malicious user could determine your driving habits and use the information to their advantage. I did even hear a member of the law enforcement community asking about such a system's ability to disable vehicles remotely in the case of excessive speed, chases, etc...

      Basically, there's a huge shift coming in the US and how we (and the government) interact with our vehicles.

      -Rick

      • They're beating us in this one.

        Current traffic monitoring systems use either CC video analysis, ramp meters, magnetic loop, or blue tooth detection. I've heard of systems to pick up tire pressure indicator signals also, but I haven't seen them first hand.

        Er, no. I was playing around with the traffic feature in Google Maps (which shows you how bad traffic congestion is). I had always assumed they were getting their data from CalTrans cameras along the freeways or something. But then I zoomed in and no

        • by RingDev ( 879105 )

          Sorry, I should specify that the -government- is currently monitoring traffic via those methods.

          Private industry has access to things that elements of the government does not, like your cell phone's position and speed (assuming you have Google's positioning system enabled).

          Now, the NSA/FBI/Police may have some way of hacking in to get that, or put up stingers to catch it, but for all of the state DOTs out there, individuals' cell phones are not available. And the systems we have available to measure traffic

        • Who in their right mind ever does this though.......... reap what you sow I guess.
    • So, does this mean that Russia is finally catching up with the US in terms of monitoring its citizens?

      The mind reels.

      Papers please, comrade.

      The only thing reeling in my mind is the ability for others to believe this type of monitoring hasn't been going on already.

      For years.

      This is Russia we're talking about. Control isn't just a fancy word thrown around at dinner parties at the Kremlin.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Google does it: no Problem
      Russia does it: OMG SURVEILLANCE STATE

  • Obligatory Yakov Smirnoff reference.
  • Seriously. I am OK that they are using data for this.
    At this moment there is no opt-out, besides not having a cellphone, so why not use it for something else.

    That does not mean I agree with the spying.

  • Yes, gathering anonymous data, (good luck with that) can be a very helpful and cheap way of gathering real-time data on traffic flows. However, as anyone who spent some time in Moscow can attest, the traffic is basically in gridlock everywhere most of the time, with the worst pinch points being damn obvious to anyone...

  • ... Russia can do whatever it wants to do.

  • A shame that we fully expect this data to be used to track us personally (because, let's face it, it probably will). This kind of data would be a huge value to civil engineers and planners who design the roads and target maintenance, improvements, and new routes. It would cost in the tens of millions of dollars to collect just a fraction of this using traditional methods, and yet the data could be had for less than a 1/10 of that and be far, far more complete.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @12:00PM (#48857005)

    ... weclome to the club.

  • Seriously, any Muscovites having problems w/ this and suspecting it to be anything other than traffic analysis, move. You could get really far from Putin by relocating to places like Vladivostok, Krasnoyarsk, Magadan, et al. Which may take a while to get that traffic analysis. Not to mention - all the problems that Moscow is famous for - you get to leave that behind

    After all, it's not like your country is short on real estate: if anything, Siberia is badly underpopulated. So move there, and you'd prob

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't really see anyone complaining.
       
      A big difference between Russia and the US is that people in the US expect the government to respect their privacy and then act righteously outraged when it turns out the government spies on them, but in Russia everyone expects the government to spy on them so they don't really get upset when the government says that they do just that.

  • This is pretty much just a mandatory opt-in to Waze [waze.com]. It's exactly what Waze does to route you.
  • We've been tracking your cell phones for years now but we're going to start using the data for traffic analysis this year.

  • They want their near-real-time traffic-congestion reports back.

  • "Traffic Analysis" wink, wink.
  • In Soviet Moscow the police track YOU!

    just like they do here.

"You show me an American who can keep his mouth shut and I'll eat him." -- Newspaperman from Frank Capra's _Meet_John_Doe_

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