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E-ZPasses Track Vehicles in NY Even Off Toll Roads


New York's E-ZPass uses a radio-frequency identification sensor, or RFID tag, which allows residents of the Big Apple to pay road tolls electronically. But most drivers don't know that the state is using the passes to gather data far from toll booths, according to an article in Forbes.

Internet hacker "Puking Monkey" wanted to see where his RFID tag was being scanned. He rigged the E-ZPass so a light would turn on and a toy cow would moo every time the RFID tag was read. He found his pass being read several times on short trips around New York, far from any tollbooths.

While speaking at the hacker convention Defcon, Puking Monkey called his findings "intrusive and unsettling." Tag readers on the streets are part of New York's traffic initiative "Midtown in Motion", which uses the passes to track traffic movement to improve flow. The New York Department of Transportation wasn't forthcoming about the program, but TransCore, the manufactures of the RFID tags used in E-ZPasses, told Forbes via email "The tag ID is scrambled to make it anonymous ... the system cannot identify the tag user and does not keep any record of the tag sightings."

Still, it's an unsettling reminder that if the state of New York can track drivers without notifying them, potentially anyone can. Puking Monkey told the crowd at Defcon that drivers can protect themselves by keeping their E-ZPasses in a bag and bringing them out when driving through tollbooths. Laws governing electronic information gathering are hazy and undefined in most states. Californians have their cars photographed and tracked by police, with no transparency on how that data is being used.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 352 Comments
      • 1 Year Ago
      I dont buy ez pass, i dont use a cellphone. My gf has an ipad but I rarely use it. Its big brother at its finest people! Want to protect yourself? Lose all elctronics and take back your privacy! Soon to come- "human tracking devices embedded inside our bodies to monitor every US citizen! Land of the Free? Think again! Illegal aliens have more freedom than we do!
        • 1 Year Ago
        yet you are posting this from some sort of electronic device
        • 1 Year Ago
        Years ago, my mother, who was a bit paranoid about everything, said that she didn't want cable tv because they'd figure out a way to watch you. Now there are people hacking into laptops and watching you via your webcam! I drive an older (2003) car that doesn't have a GPS or any of those 'black box' things they are installing now. I have a flip phone cell phone that I keep off.
        KILO ROCK BRAVO
        • 1 Year Ago
        Absolutley man. That color TV, FM radio, remote garage door openers, cell phones, stereo hi-fi, air conditioning, talking movies, word processers, all of it's the same. Remember Scientific Progress spelled backwards is..........uh........duh.................COMMUNISIM !!!
        anandaone
        • 1 Year Ago
        The tin foil hat crowd speaks again.
          El Hefe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @anandaone
          Before you criticize, pass silly insults, or show your ignorance maybe you should educate yourself. We are just starting to learn about the depth of illegal spying conducted by the NSA on every American citizen. An epidemic of identity theft in this country made easier by the availability or personal information on the internet and being stolen from databases like your medical records or businesses you interact with. Your electronic payments are being tracked and your spending habits are being sold for marketing. Computers, phones, and electronic devices recording or watching everything you do. You really think an American's privacy is really safe from abuse or even hackers? Check out this book on RFID technology and it's potential for abuse. Spychips Dr. Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre
      Mark
      • 1 Year Ago
      THIS IS WHERE AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF MONEY IS BEING SPENT !! SPYING ON THE PUBLIC AND TRACKING OUR LOCATIONS, STOPS, VISITS, AND ANY MOVEMENT BY THE GOVERNMENT !! THAT MAY BE OKAY WITH A WARRANT, BUT THEY DON'T HAVE ANY !!! IF I LIVED IN NEW YORK, I WOULD NEVER USE THE PASS, JUST PAY CASH, BUT THAT WON'T STOP THE PHOTOGRAPHING OF YOUR VEHICLE, AND TRACKING YOUR LICENSE PLATE !! THERE SHOULD BE LAWS TO PROTECT US FROM THE GOVERNMENT !!! NEVER EVER VOTE FOR REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT AGAIN !!! WE SHOULD ONLY VOTE FOR AMERICAN, INDEPENDENT, LIBERTARIAN, OR PEACE AND FREEDOM PARTIES IN EVERY SINGLE ELECTION FROM NOW ON !!!! GET RID OF THE CORRUPT, AND GREEDY IN GOVERNMENT, STARTING WITH obama !!!! EYE DISEASE IS REASON FOR CAPS !!
        gerrycam
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mark
        "THERE SHOULD BE LAWS TO PROTECT US FROM THE GOVERNMENT " There are....they are called the Consitution. In fact the primary purpose of the Constitution is to limit abuse of power by government. Not working very well is it? The main reason is most people today expect perpetual care from government and don't mind relinquishing freedom in exchange for it.
          AC
          • 1 Year Ago
          @gerrycam
          You have the freedom not to use an EZ Pass!
      bubblesbjm
      • 1 Year Ago
      We might as well be robots! Government is taking over all our lives. We have nothing!
      d1970westernstar
      • 1 Year Ago
      In the south we don't charge no one to drive on our roads
      hmadden
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's all about control. By government.
      viperbl
      • 1 Year Ago
      Puking Monkey is puking because he's gagging on my c0ck
      jrexmarda
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yes we are watching you. Please eat your peas, quit picking your nose, etc.
      bdgrizcp
      • 1 Year Ago
      Driving is a privelige, not a right. That pretty much sums up your 'lack of privacy' on the road. All this blather about personal privacy, your assumed rights evporates the instant your car hits a road. Any road. This aspect of possible surveilance by government has been covered many times on TV. So be aware. Also be aware that any GPS type device can also be tracked. You should never keep any memory in such a device. Think about this: your car has a valet key so your glovebox can't be accessed by a valet driver. Yet your GPS is sitting on the dash (or buit-in) with all kinds of info about your movements stored on it.
      rosebudmi
      • 1 Year Ago
      While I'm not saying it's a good thing, think of it another way...if you were in an accident and went off the road somewhere or someone were to steal you car, authorities would be able to track the vehicle using the same technology. Depends on how you look at the situation.
        Arius
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rosebudmi
        That's right because thieves don't know what those tracking devices are like the rest of us.
        jt2
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rosebudmi
        Don't be silly, they don't care enough to do something helpful!
        njenel
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rosebudmi
        your dreamin !!
        anandaone
        • 1 Year Ago
        @rosebudmi
        The tin-foil hat crowd is unimpressed with logic or common sense.
      norman
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ez come, EZ go = Moo?
      jlwalker5
      • 1 Year Ago
      If you don't have anything to hide why do you care.
        heattransfer1
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jlwalker5
        Do you really want the world to know everything about you? How many RFID tags do you have on now? How often you go to McDonalds... How often you visit the bathroom... How often you go through those scanners at the store...
        Arius
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jlwalker5
        right because we know no one ever abuses power
        wboozer@mail.com
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jlwalker5
        Well, there goes the Fourth Amendment!
      • 1 Year Ago
      Are we expected to trust the word of a hacker?
        talari
        • 1 Year Ago
        Criminals are usually the best source to find flaws in systems.
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