TrafficMaster sells clients' location info to UK.gov

Pay for your own spy in the cab

Our last best hope is that - in UK government IT, anyway - cockup always trumps conspiracy. There's not a cat's hope of the UK government being able to make all this stuff work together. In particular, they'd have to effectively nationalise the motor insurance industry. Even if it did work, the jails and courts are already overloaded; they don't have the capacity to deal with fresh criminals by the million. The whole plan doesn't really seem like a vote-winner.

As for users of SmartNav today, they can relax a little; but only a little. The bulk data sold to the DfT isn't used to detect crime. You can break the speed limit, and your SmartNav gear will tell the DfT, but for now all they'll do is maybe put a speed camera in locations where a lot of people speed. They won't come after you personally.

"We have no interest in knowing where people are travelling to and from," a spokesman told the Mail.

That said, if a copper or a spook is investigating you and he notices that your car has SmartNav, he can - probably without a warrant from a judge or a politician - get full details of your movements from the DfT, who get them automatically from TrafficMaster. If the Mail has its details right, the location slugs are identifiable by unique vehicle number, so all the watchers need is one known time and location to kick off with. The plod or spy could possibly track you anyway in a major case by having your car bugged or followed, but it might be a bit galling to pay his bills for him and remove his oversight procedures.

TrafficMaster would appear to be a service only for the pure. Which is strange, as at least one of its services seems tailor-made for the caddish, philandering road warrior. You can use the voice channel, apart from asking for a route plan, to order certain things: Flowers, champagne and hotel rooms. Not anything else - just those three specific things.

Think twice, though; TrafficMaster might sell its database to your spouse. Mail coverage here. ®

*I'm assuming here that with the introduction of vehicle tracking databases automatically cross-referenced to insurance ones, the government has chosen to build many more prisons and herded the vast numbers of people who today drive uninsured - or who falsify their insurance details to get lower premiums - into jail. If this hasn't happened, simply don't bother insuring your ghost car.

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