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12/3/2005Missouri Signs Statewide Cell Phone Spying Contract
The state of Missouri has signed a contract to monitor the location and speed of cell phone owners traveling on Missouri highways.
On Friday, the state of Missouri signed a $6.2 million contract with National Engineering Technology Corporation (NET) to track the movement of motorists on the state's 5500 mile network of major roads. NET and Canadian company Delcan NET are owned by the UK firm ITIS Holdings. The first test of the system could begin next week in Kansas City and St. Louis.
The high-tech spy network will track the movement and speed of individuals without their consent by "mining" data from cell phone companies that agree to provide full access to their infrastructure. The names of the companies involved have not been released. Wireless phone networks have been upgraded to comply with federal regulations so that 911 operators would know the exact location of a caller in an emergency. The NET system will operate any time a cell phone is turned on, whether a call is being made or not.
A similar monitoring program in Baltimore was funded primarily from federal money, including earmarks in the TEA-21 highway bill under the title "I-95 Corridor Coalition" and from the Department of Transportation ITS Joint Program Office.
"If you travel on a certain route every day, we'll eventually be able to give you alerts to see if an instance would keep you from getting to work on time," NET project manager Steven McDonald told the AP. "This has a lot of potential."
That raised eyebrows at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). "Consumers should have the right to opt into this public service," said Lillie Coney, associate director of Washington, D.C.-based EPIC. "Missouri may be creating a base for a new industry on the shoulders of the taxpayers."Source: Missouri approves tracking cell phones for real-time traffic data (Associated Press, 12/2/2005)
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