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E-ZPass™ E-ZHack from Popular Science

E-Zpass(tm) E-ZHack components (PopSci photo) - RF CafeYou do know that your E-ZPass™ is getting read all over town, don't you? If you have one of the devices hanging from your sun visor and think that the only thing tracking your location is the tool booth plaza on the thruway, you might be in for a big surprise once you build this E-ZHack circuit for your E-ZPass™. Both Popular Science and RF Cafe issue a caveat that making this modification might void the warranty, cause it to stop working, be illegal, or include any combination of the three.

As presented in the January 2014 edition, this modification will sound an audible alarm when the circuit detects that your E-ZPass™ is being read. Per the article, "E-ZPass™ is a device that drivers can buy in 15 states to zip through tollbooths across the country, usually without stopping. More than 24 million tags - and growing - exist in the U.S. alone. Each 'listens' for a wireless signal broadcast by an electronic E-Zpass(tm) E-ZHack schematic (PopSci photo) - RF Cafereader. When that signal is strong enough, a tag draws power from an onboard battery to broadcast its serial number back to the reader. The reader then relays the information to a computer server to bill the customer linked to the tag. Unbeknownst to most E-ZPass™ users, however, the tags can be activated and read almost anywhere. Said a man who built the E-ZHack, "I drove around [Manhattan] and realized, Wow, this is being read everywhere!" Popular Science estimates the price to be around $55, including $25 for an E-ZPass™  tag.

The age of ubiquitous tracking is solidly in place, whether the means be your cellphone, your Wi-Fi connection to your portable device, the magnetic strips on your credit cards and ATM cards, surveillance cameras, e-mail, phone calls, even the photographing of every snail mail letter or package you send. Later this year (2014) the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be issuing its first set of regulations governing the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) drones in civil airspace by private and commercial entities, and those platforms can carry a multitude of sensors - visible light and infrared, radio, audio, thermal. Your life is being recorded and stored in massive databases. "Hey, I haven't done anything wrong, so I'm not worried about it," you might say. Maybe not, at least by today's standards, but what about 20 years from now when you develop a medical malady and Big Bro health care reviews your life history and notes a few activities you engaged in that have been determined to be contributors to your problem, and a panel of "experts" decides the price you  pay is minimal or no treatment (maybe a pill for the pain)? How about your car insurance increasing or being cancelled because based on a trend exposed in your driving habits it is determined that you present an increasing threat to society? You can always ride a bus, I suppose, if that occurs. Are you prepared to explain to a committee why five years ago your car happened to be spotted in a particular area of town every day, even though the reason is utterly unrelated to their business? Oh, I know, you place your comfort in knowing that government entities never make mistakes and the wrong person is never convicted or framed for some act of malfeasance.

Something tells me that until outlawed as are radar detectors in some states, the sale of identity cloaking clothing, glasses, and accessories is going to increase markedly in the next few years.

Posted  January 2, 2014

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