Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Cartapping: How Feds Have Spied On Connected Cars For 15 Years

Published on January 19, 2017 by   ·   No Comments
An attendee demonstrates the OnStar Corp. 4G LTE dash system on a General Motors Co. (GM) Chevrolet Impala vehicle during the 2014 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan. OnStar provides all kinds of useful services, to cops as well as drivers. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

The rapid spread of connected devices that can listen and locate has been a boon for law enforcement. Any new technology hooked up to the web has the potential to become a surveillance device, even if it’s original purpose was benign, as shown in a 2016 Arkansas murder investigation where Amazon was asked to hand over audio from a suspect’s Echo.

But such information and much more, I’ve learned, has long been retrievable from cars. Indeed, court documents reveal a 15-year history of what’s been dubbed “cartapping,” where almost real-time audio and location data can be retrieved when cops order vehicle tech providers to hand it over.

One of the more recent examples can be found in a 2014 warrant that allowed New York police to trace a vehicle by demanding the satellite radio and telematics provider SiriusXM provide location information. The warrant, originally filed in 2014 but only recently unsealed (and published below in full), asked SiriusXM “to activate and monitor as a tracking device the SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio installed on the Target Vehicle for a period of 10 days.” The target was a Toyota 4-Runner wrapped up in an alleged illegal gambling enterprise.

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