Big Brother is tracking you

by Suw on August 10, 2005

Wired reports on a Department for Transport pilot scheme to test RFID chipped car numberplates here in the UK, with battery powered chips that can broadcast their identity up to 300ft. Considering that we don't have that many toll bridges or roads here, and the congestion charge is limited to London, I wonder what the justification for this would be. What problem do we have that RFID chipped plates would solve?
If they want to use RFID chips to allow people to pay bridge tolls or the congestion charge, why make them embedded in the number plate and not a hand-held device one could leave in the glove compartment or transfer from car to car? If it's about geolocation of stolen cars, well, we already have transponders you can buy that can do that for you.
So what is it about? Identifying speeding motorists as they go past speed cameras? Would the rise in income from fines justify the cost of chipping 25 million cars on our roads? Or is this about location and prosecution of tax and insurance evasion? Trouble is, the DVLA claim they can do from their desks now just by checking their database, so that's not a compelling argument either.
So let's see: The government are wasting our money testing an expensive solution that doesn't actually solve any real problems and which no one in their right minds would want. If they tell us it's for 'security' and to 'crack down on terror'… well, words fail me.

Anonymous August 10, 2005 at 11:45 am

I think this may have something to do with the idea they had that road tax could be abolished in favour of a system that tracks how many miles you drive and, possibly, where you're driving (eg. M6 expensive, minor B-road, less expensive). Don't trust my reportage however, this is only what my defective memory can recall from the odd mention on Top Gear.

Anonymous August 10, 2005 at 11:49 am

Eww, that's an ugly idea in so many ways.

Anonymous August 10, 2005 at 2:20 pm

The prime directive of any government — any government — is to prevent its own demise and extend its own reach and influence. What interferes with this is not things like terrorists, but ordinary people with different ideas about how the world would be a better place with more minimalist government.
Cynically viewed, government says: “These people who think differently need to be stopped, crimes found against them, etc. But how can we know what they are doing unless we can track where they are travelling. Ahh, at the first opportunity let's install an RFID tracking system. It can be justified as 'in the national interest' and 'to combat terrorism'.”

Anonymous May 25, 2007 at 10:34 pm

And how do you suppose the gouvernment knows about every single person who thinks “the world would be a better place with more minimalist government”? A huge national data-base made also from the contributors money? And now “they” want to keep track of everybody in this group? Sounds a little too obvious. The whole point of a conspiration-theory is not to seem a conspiration.

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