China mandates radio-tracking beacons in all cars

As of July 1, registering a car in China will involve registering an RFID radio-beacon that will be planted on the car in order to track its movements.

The Chinese government says it will use continuous, realtime tracking of the location of all cars for security, crimefighting and urban planning.

It's an invasive form of security that represents a great forward leap in vehicle tracking, significantly ahead of the US use of automated license-plate readers, covert tracking via wireless toll transponders, and aviation-based cellphone and vehicle location tracking (indeed, China has at least engaged in a modicum of transparency here in announcing the program, unlike in the USA where local, state and federal law enforcement agencies have deployed location tracking without consultation or court orders, quite illegally).

Late last year, Beijing released some details of its car-tracking plan, which can be seen online through China's national standards disclosure system. It doesn't say why authorities are introducing this system. But older documents shed some light.

In late 2014, when the Traffic Management Research Institute unveiled the draft standards and sought public comments, it said the new system was needed to address growing problems such as traffic congestion and terrorist attacks with vehicles. It said these "have posed serious challenges and threats to social and economic lives, especially to public safety."

The move also would promote the domestic development of an RFID chip industry, it said, signaling that only chips made by Chinese companies would be used under the program.

A Chip in the Windshield: China's Surveillance State Will Soon Track Cars [Yoko Kubota/WSJ]

(via Naked Capitalism)

(Image: Hugh D'Andrade/EFF, CC-BY)