New Mobile Traffic Tracking Under Fire from Privacy Advocates

Navigation companies state information is not identifiable

The new Highway Agency tracking of movement of millions of motorists that fill the highways and freeways through their mobile phones through satellite navigation systems has raised some pointed concerns from the privacy advocates.

A new trial from the agency has involved the collecting data from the satnavs and mobile phone systems to examine traffic trends in order to avoid the congestion or slowdowns in traffic has been the focus of some basic concerns by those who concern themselves with basic privacy concerns.

Roads used to conduct the new trial include the M25, M11, M4, A3, and A20, all within the south-east and is used by the companies’ data collectors in order to use geo-location as part of the trial. This method is opposed to the traditional system of number-plate recognition through overhead gantries notification.

The new system has attracted some criticism by privacy advocates who are worried that people are unaware of how their data is being utilized.

“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,” said Nick Pickles, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch.

“People will probably have no idea that this information is being used by the Highways Agency,” he continued.

He added: “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.”

The Highways Agency has noted that the criticism is baseless as the data collected, according to the agency, is done so through anonymous means and that individuals and their movement is not identifiable through the data collection.

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