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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

OnStar: Your Car Rats You Out!

Arrest Me Now!
So now your friends at GM and OnStar are changing the "terms of service" for your OnStar unit in your vehicle to include tracking your vehicle by GPS at all times - regardless of whether or not you use OnStar.

Isn't this nice.

In addition, they have added more terms to allow them to sell this information.

(See a decent write up here.)

So let's suppose you're zipping along on the Interstate and you roll past a speed trap in your shiny new GM car with OnStar.

No longer does the cop hiding in the bushes need to zap you with a speed gun.

Instead, from the comfort of their plush tax-payer appointed offices they will simply punch up the  coordinates on their computers of a place where people are known to speed.

Giant servers somewhere in Detroit or India will spin up the list of GM cars, their speed, direction of travel and the identities of the owners and transmit them to a flying officer (or unmanned drone) that will collect whatever it needs via a video feed showing you breaking the law.

Some officer down the road will get a list of cars to pull over and ticket or, if you're lucky, a ticket will be mailed right to your door.

Of course this can all be cross referenced with prior acts, arrests, etc. as well as any in-progress crimes.

Should you have been near any felonious acts the local police database can cross-match GM cars with the location of the felonies so that the police know who to visit.

You may cry "no, no!" this is private information.

But you'd be wrong.  Once the police suspect you of committing a crime then the floodgates open regarding what information they may collect in pursuing a criminal.

Think of it this way: If you video yourself stealing gas from the gas station and post it on youtube - even if you're personally not directly visible - its still evidence of crime in progress.  Once the police see the video they can, for example, go to the gas station and review other video or witnesses.  Similarly GPS data indicating that people are speeding is no different than an officer on the side of the road seeing you zip past at what looks like an illegal speed. 

Its a reason for them to become interested in you.

In Canada and the US there are places where there are no longer toll gates - just cameras.  Same idea.  Same legal elements.  GPS and VIN numbers are just as good from the friendly GM servers.

But I am sure that things won't end there.

Think your spouse is cheating?  Just sign up for a home-based tracking system that lets you run a simulation of where your car has been on Google maps over the last two days.

Divorce lawyers will love this...

If poor little Jr. wants to "park" with his girlfriend all the police need do is find the cars located in the range of the local "lovers leap".  If anyone is there a quick and easy bust.  (While their at it they can grab the kiddies cell phones and arrest them for sexting too.)

Want to commit felonies?  Then bulk buy (from hackers) stolen GPS/VIN data and distill the data down to locate folks making night bank deposits, picking up valuables, etc. (We all know how safe this sort of data is from hackers, right?  Just ask poor old Scarlett Johannson who had nude photos of herself stolen from her own cellphone.)

And don't forget that OnStar can simply disable your vehicle if they so choose - say at the behest of your ex-wife who tells the police you've kidnapped little Jr.

And of course we all know that the cellphone data stream used by OnStar is completely unhackable - right?

Just try Googling "onstar data stream hacking"...

You find this, for example...  Need I say more.

Just imagine what skilled, professional Lithuanian, Anonymous, or Russian hackers can do with this stream of data.

Your car will rat you out...

And if you think that "randomized GPS" data will keep you safe you're a fool.

Just find the GPS location of your driveway.  Then create a small circle around it and watch for movement of GPS locations.  Bingo - we know who you are...

With the new "push" smartphone services your cellphone can pop up ads as you drive by the local pizza joint...

Ever wonder why it gets harder and harder to get your old clunker through the annual state safety inspection?  Ever wonder about "cash for clunkers"?

Its not the emissions, the environment or your safety they are concerned with.


Big brother wants shiny new cars on the road with OnStar so that watching over you will be that much easier.

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