All cars to come with a location beacon

It says in the always-recommended Freedom to Tinker blog that

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing a requirement that every car should broadcast a cleartext message specifying its exact position, speed, and heading ten times per second. In comments filed in April, during the 90-day comment period, we (specifically, Leo Reyzin, Anna Lysyanskaya, Vitaly Shmatikov, Adam Smith, together with the CDT via Joseph Lorenzo Hall and Joseph Jerome) argued that this requirement will result in a significant loss to privacy. Others have aptly argued that the proposed system also has serious security challenges and cannot prevent potentially deadly malicious broadcasts, and that it will be outdated before it is deployed. In this post I focus on privacy, though I think security problems and resulting safety risks are also important to consider.

I actually like this proposal. I’m post privacy, in the sense of being someone who has concluded that privacy is a technological impossibility and therefore a lost cause. The requirement for cleartext is something I see as a feature rather than a bug. What peeves me off royally, far more than the amount of data I’m shoveling to the data brokers with “my” devices, is that there isn’t a legible copy of that data stream for my own use, in self discovery, or what was meant by “quantified self” in a more innocent time, before that term (along with “sharing economy”) got brutally co-opted. My casus belli these days, rather than privacy (or even transparency, which unfortunately has become a weasel word) is information asymmetry, more precisely, the amelioration and preferably neutralization of it. I’m personally more comfortable (actually, less uncomfortable) with data about me being accessible to the world at large than available to paying clients under the understanding that it’s proprietary data. Plus I like the idea of the world of traffic analysis being opened to open source/open data/pubwan types and not just purveyors of “secret sauce” solutions to emerging industries like semi-autonomous vehicles, optimization of logistics, etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I do see a downside to this. Most importantly, the security concerns. Many people place some value on the largely empty phrase “privacy policy” because it promises that access to personal data will be vetted, so supposedly it will be aggressively kept out of the hands of cybercriminals. If it’s put into the hands of narrowcasters and precision-target marketers, well, at least they’re not criminals, and as they say, TANSTAAFL. Also, even my post-privacy self would like some trips to be discreet. I’m thinking I can live with plaintext geotelemetry being either allowed or required, if a hard off switch is provided. But since the “selling point” of this is helping “emergency services,” we can be pretty sure that’s one feature which will be disallowed. Honestly, just the stated reasons are reason enough for a NO vote from me. But I do sorely wish there were a place in the world for an internet of nonproprietary things, that communicate with the world at large, and generate data that somehow manages to be actionable without being monetized. I know, I know, information wants to be valuable. (Sigh)

About n8chz

पृथ्वी की उच्च किराया जिले में उद्यमिता कौशल अभाव
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s