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Big Brother in your car

I forgot where I read this but someone pointed out that it’s a bit scary that the US government will own OnStar. By owning 70% of GM, they would control OnStar as well.

17 Responses to “Big Brother in your car”

  1. workinwifdakids Says:

    The Law of Unintended Consequences.

  2. wizardpc Says:

    People thought I was crazy when I told them GPS tracking and audio monitoring capabilities by a corporate entity were a bad idea.

    Just wait til Verizon, AT&T, and Tmobile are “too big to fail.”

  3. Standard Mischief Says:

    Scary. It’s like they wouldn’t need a warrant any more to spy on you or something. Oh wait.

  4. nk Says:

    Err … guys … like … you know … that GPS thing is kind of like … you know … satellites that the government sent up and is keeping up there? If you have any kind of GPS device, the government does not need to own the company you send your check to in order to track you. The information the company charges you for, to track you, it gets from the government. You know, also, that the government owns the frequency on your cell phone? And it can real-time track you even if you have it turned off? If it thinks you are important enough to?

  5. SayUncle Says:

    I think a few companies pay to have their own satellites launched.

  6. Brutal Hugger Says:

    The question here is what is the additional risk of the gov owning OnStar? AT&T is privately owned, but that provided exactly zero protection against it being used to spy on Americans. It doesn’t matter who owns the technology and the infrastructure. If the capacity to spy on us exists, the gov will eventually take advantage.

  7. JKB Says:

    The GPS satellites do not track the receivers. The receivers we use receive a timing signal from several of the satellites and triangulates a position from the time delays. Our “GPS” devices now have the capability to then send that position information over some other network, e.g., cellular, satellite, radio, etc. I’m not saying they couldn’t put a transceiver on a GPS bird to do this but why would they when their are so many comms satellite existing to handle this traffic without the added cost to the GPS constellation. As well as so many companies who want to sell you the service.

    That being said, I doubt a warrant is required to obtain OnStar or other tracking data. No expectation of privacy since you’ve sent the info to a third party and their are rulings that police planted GPS tracking devices don’t require a warrant.

  8. DeadCenter Says:

    Don’t get ALL paranoid on us now. A GPS is just a RECEIVER, it doesn’t transmit anything except for some generic electronic fields. What allows Bib Bro to track you is your cell phone taking that data and transmitting your location to the nearest cell tower.

  9. nk Says:

    Uncle #5, I am no expert in this area. I said what I said because the Defense Department is using GPS for the missiles we send now, all sea and air navigation depends on it, and it needed Rumsfeld’s permission to give real-time (less than twenty minutes delay) and real-space (less than three yards distance) to GPS devices for blind people.

  10. Nomen Nescio Says:

    nk, GPS doesn’t quite work that way. Uncle, yes, but not navigation satellites (thus far, anyway).

    still, what wizardpc said. i’d made up my mind not to own a car with onstar shortly after the thing was introduced to begin with; the gubmint owning it makes no difference in my mind. i’m not letting anybody put that kind of spyware in my car. cellphones are plenty bad enough, but those i can at least pull the battery out of when the paranoia strikes particularly badly.

  11. Nomen Nescio Says:

    gaah. i hates the internets, they makes me double-posts.

  12. SayUncle Says:

    well, for some reason, your first went to spam. beats me.

  13. Rustmeister Says:

    On Star or no, the .gov will know where you are by 2012 anyway.

  14. Tam Says:

    The GPS satellites do not track the receivers. The receivers we use receive a timing signal from several of the satellites and triangulates a position from the time delays. Our “GPS” devices now have the capability to then send that position information over some other network, e.g., cellular, satellite, radio, etc. I’m not saying they couldn’t put a transceiver on a GPS bird to do this…

    I don’t think that the transmitter in your phone has the wheaties to put out a radio signal that could be triangulated on from satellites 20,200km away. I know my phone has a hard time if the nearest tower is only 6 miles off…

  15. wizardpc Says:

    Some clarity is in order:
    1. GPS works, as stated, by receiving timed signals ONLY. That data is not sent back to th satellites. The devices do not emit any sort of beacon that can be picked up. Simply stated, the $200 TomTom on your dashboard cannot be tracked.

    2. The OnStar SYSTEM uses an onboard GPS module to determine your location. That is just one part of the system. By itself, it’s not creepy, scary, or otherwise a cause for alarm.

    3. The other major part of the OnStar system is basically a cellphone with a data plan. THIS IS WHERE THE BADNESS COMES! The GPS module can send your coordinates via the data connection back to an OnStar database. And, accordng to their TOS, they do exactly that. The federal government now effectively owns that data, and they can use it however they’d like. Speeding tickets, for example.

    4. The cell phone thing. Yes, the government can track your cellphone. No, they don’t use satellites to do it. They used to use triangulation via cell towers, but with the mandated e911 chip now they can do it with better accuracy. Its not really the government that does it, though, its your provider. We had a case very recently here in Nashville where a man drove to Atlanta for business, came back to Nashville at 3am and murdered his wife, then drove back to Atlanta for his meeting. He was arrested, according to police, after they subpeonad his cell phone records and saw his phone connecting to towers along the interstate.

    Tracking via GPS and cellular triangulation has been a hobby of mine for several years.

  16. straightarrow Says:

    I would never own a vehicle with OnStar. Whether or not the owner activates he can be listened to and tracked and it has been done. Don’t tell me about all the technical reasons it can’t be done, it can be and has been.

    Your cell phone can be used as a clandestine listening device if it is in the interests of people or agencies with the power to order it. Think about your cell phone as a tiny computer. It can be imbedded with secret and hidden software. Not a common occurrence, but it can be done.

  17. Xrlq Says:

    I don’t think that the transmitter in your phone has the wheaties to put out a radio signal that could be triangulated on from satellites 20,200km away.

    A satellite phone probably does, but there’d be no point in designing a GPS device to do that. Even if the GPS satellites paid attention to the signal, which of course they don’t, they wouldn’t be able to tell where you are from it, only how far you are from the satellite. It works the other way because your device receives timed signals from multiple satellites, and calculates the difference between when each is received.

Remember, I do this to entertain me, not you.

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