#hacking | National’s road charging proposals “wide open to abuse”

Source: National Cyber Security – Produced By Gregory Evans

National’s proposed user-pays scheme for
road users
will almost inevitably become a
state-controlled mass vehicle surveillance system, says the
car review website dogandlemon.com.

Editor Clive
Matthew-Wilson, who was also the former editor of a computer
magazine, says any system that could reliably charge all
vehicle owners for the distance travelled would almost
certainly be based on satellite information.

“This is a
bureaucrat’s dream. The government simply needs to pass a
law requiring that each vehicle is fitted with a Global
Positioning System (GPS). This system would then feed your
vehicle’s current location to a computer. The computer
would then work out how far you’ve travelled and deduct
Road User Charges from your bank

“Inevitably, a system of this kind would
also become widely used by law enforcement agencies.
Doubtless, these agencies would also love having the ability to switch off vehicles
without the driver being able to do anything about

“Similar systems are already widely used by car
dealers in the USA to track vehicles on hire purchase. If
the customer stops paying for the hire purchase, the dealer
simply uses a remote control to switch off the vehicle,
leaving the owner stranded at the side of the

“However, such as system could be easily
abused. For example, if a group of known protesters were on
their way to a demonstration, the government could simply
switch their cars off remotely, so the protesters couldn’t
turn up at the event.”

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“This is
not some science fiction scenario, this is here and now
technology. And, similar technology is already being abused
here and now. In case you don’t know, your smartphone is probably tracking your
every move
and unscrupulous companies are exploiting the
data they gather about you. You can solve this problem by
leaving your smartphone behind, but you can’t escape from
a GPS-based government vehicle tracking system. Such a
system will gradually increase the level of surveillance to
the point where every single vehicle journey you make is
carefully tracked.“

“I, for one, am alarmed at this
potential level of surveillance.”

Matthew-Wilson adds
that a centralised surveillance system of this kind is also
exceedingly vulnerable to hacking and deliberate disruption
by foreign powers.

“While satellite technology is
currently reliable, GPS satellites will be among the first targets
in any international conflict.
The government’s eyes
in the sky could suddenly be out of action without notice,
along with the road user charging system that relies on

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