Troubling if true

Spy My Ride: Somebody may be tracking your vehicle and you don’t know about it! | HexView

Here is where privacy problems become obvious: Each wheel of the vehicle transmits a unique ID, easily readable using off-the-shelf receiver. Although the transmitter’s power is very low, the signal is still readable from a fair distance using a good directional antenna.

Remember the paper that discussed how Bluetooth radios in cell phones can be used to track their owners? The problem with TPMS is incomparably bigger, because the lifespan of a typical cell phone is around 2 years and you can turn the Bluetooth radio off in most of them. On the contrary, TPMS cannot be turned off. It comes with a built-in battery that lasts 7 to 10 years, and the battery-less TPMS sensors are ready to hit the market in 2010. It does not matter how long you own the vehicle – transportation authorities keep up-to-date information about vehicle ownership.

There are a couple of obvious things here. First, there’s no need for globally unique IDs, since the chance of persistent ID collisions is vanishingly small. So if you have, say, an 8-bit ID code, tracking individuals becomes difficult or impossible except in circumstances where you could track them just as easily without the ID codes (e.g. low-traffic areas where you can unambiguously identify each passing car by weight, silhouette, license place blah blah blah. Second, this thing is in wheels and/or tires. Which are so not limited to individual vehicles.

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