Highways Agency Monitoring Traffic Flow Via Smartphones
The Highways Agency is tracking motorists via mobile phones and sat-navs, the Telegraph has reported. This information is required for two purposes. The first is to monitor traffic flow which might include calculating the number of cars that use a particular road each day, then establishing peak times. Road improvement schemes might then be scheduled to minimise disruption to the general public. Furthermore, phone/sat-nav data is used to identify congestion caused by (say) heavy traffic, a collision, or breakdown. Drivers might then be diverted by overhead motorway signs or their satellite navigation systems. The Highways Agency has claimed that the information comes direct from phone/data companies and does not enable it to follow specific vehicles. Despite this, the Telegraph has reported that Big Brother Watch - a group that campaigns for privacy - says the scheme raises questions about the extent to which people's movements are tracked (and their data utilised) without their knowledge.
Privacy Campaigner Discusses Highways Agency
Nick Pickles, Director of Big Brother Watch argued that: “This is yet another example of how our lives are being monitored at an extremely detailed level, and just how much of that data is being shared and sold on for a vast range of purposes. People will probably have no idea that this information is being used by the Highways Agency. The question has to be asked if there is a less intrusive way to get this kind of data - and if it is so essential that it is so detailed as to require live data from the devices in people’s cars.”
Residents Of Britain Increasingly Monitored
And it seems that people can be monitored via increasingly elaborate schemes. Recently, for example, there was a trial in the capital city that involved recycling bins tracing individuals via their smartphones (not kidding). These bins – that housed prominent advertising screens – could theoretically have targeted specific consumers based on the shops they visited. Furthermore, some retail centres can now monitor the shops customers browse once they sign-up to a Wi-Fi connection. Factors such as (say) the length of each visit might be noted. Plus, of course, virtually every shop and significant street in the country has numerous cameras that watch everything - and even home owners can now purchase low cost closed-circuit television systems. It seems to be 1984.