posted 5 years ago

Highways Agency Tracking Motorists Via Phones & Sat-Navs

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.


Lets all vote UKIP at the next general election,that will tell the 3 main parties that it is the people of this country who are in charge.

If my activities are being monitored and money is being made from that data, I think it only reasonable that I should receive a share of the profits. Who do I contact to get paid and how far is it going to be back-dated ???

Reinforces my opinion that its time to leave this sinking ship. Wonder if i can sneak out without being noticed.

The point is that only informed consent for surveillance should be acceptable in a free liberal society. We have sleepwalked into a vindictive survelance state monitoring a nation of suspects. I personally wish to opt out of ALL surveillance. Do not trust them!

"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about" ? I have something to hide MY FACKING PRIVACY! Well, it used to be called privacy - fook knows what it is now! 1984 on steroids inhabited by mindless drones!

Furthermore, furthermore, furthermore (say) furthermore (say), furthermore, as such.

My understanding is this is how Tom Tom traffic works. This is why they can cover roads where Tom Tom users have their sat navs on and not just major roads. The data is supposed to be anonymous. I believe it is collected via the Vodafone network. Has nobody wondered how sat navs get their live updates when they aren't connected to any external device? It is because they have a SIM card built in. In the same way normal mobile phone movement data is collected and average speeds worked out. I can't remember the name of the company that does this. There is nothing new in this. If you don't want anyone to have the possibility to track you, use an old dumb sat nav, leave your mobile at home and sit in the traffic you might have avoided. You will still pass cameras and number plate reading devices though.

1984 is with us - and has been for some time.If anybody believes that this info will be kept anonymous, they are naive beyond belief.

Overall I approve of the data being used for Traffic information. None of us want to be sitting in queues that could be avoided and spending our hard earned cash of fuel to go nowhere. None of us want to pay extra taxes - we want the most efficient road system at the lowest cost. This is the simplest and cheapest way of doing it. As long as the information is anonymous I don't see the issue. Anyone that watches TV should know that if the authorities really want to track your mobile phone this is available to them anyway. As to SatNav companies using it to provide improved routing again this is fine in my opinion. Not sure I'd approve on them selling it to private companies though.

its the same old story ,the people in power do as they like ,and we the ordinary people do as we are told!!!

@Alfie Noakes - without sounding rude, that is a very a dangerous and naïve line of thought. Its not if you go to Tescos, its wherever you might go or can be inferred. A synagogue, mosque, political meeting - imagine if that information was available to an extremist government, even Labour for that matter who where checking up on the political affiliation of train crash victims a few years ago or checking for any information that could be used against the Lawrence family. Lots of little bits of information adds up to everything. If you think this is extreme - then tell that to the victims who were rounded up a murdered in the Netherlands in the 1940's - all the information on race/religion was on the census form. Information is one of the most powerful weapons available today - correction it always has been!

If its a 100% anonymous data then maybe, however the express permission of the mobile phone owner should be a legal requirement. Even anonymous data showing location effectively identifies you if the traffic density is low.

What a load of conspiracy theory rubbish. Who cares that if by some convoluted means someone can tell if you went to Tesco before going to the gym? Only people with something to hide might be concerned

If people don't like it, turn your phone off in the car (it shouldn't be on anyway) and buy a map.

This technology is used by TomTom for their Live services. I recall that they bought the patented phone tracking technology from an Edinburgh company. How has the data been purloined by the Highways Agency?