No, You Can’t Find Criminals Using SiriusXM Radio

There is a fine line between using technology to catch criminals and invade my privacy. This recent article (No, cops aren’t using SiriusXM to find criminals. Here’s how they do it) also shows how easily and quickly facts can be misinterpreted and lead to false information.

The case involved a man wanted on suspicion of attempted murder and other alleged crimes. He fled from one county to another, but according to the article, sheriff’s deputies were able to locate him by “sending a ‘ping’ to his Sirius satellite radio,” after which the suspect was found and arrested.

Like me, you might be wondering, How did the deputies work with SiriusXM satellite Radio? How did this ‘ping’ lead to locating and arresting the suspect? Does this mean that your local police could ‘ping’ everyone in their jurisdiction who uses Sirius in their car?

The article goes on to reveal that, “Sirius satellite radio itself is a one-way operation. The actual radios have no geolocating capacity and can’t “ping” anything back to anyone.” So, this wasn’t exactly how things played out.

Sirius also offers SiriusXM Guardian which is available on the Fiat Chrysler Uconnect infotainment system which can send data over a mobile network. In the case of valid vehicle-location court orders, Sirius does work with law enforcement buy activating the installed telematics hardware in a car and doesn’t interact with the satellite radio.

The suspect drove a Jeep Wrangler that was equipped with the Uconnect system. While being able to “find” your phone, laptop or car might be helpful in the event that they are stolen, it also brings up privacy concerns.

In 2017, Forbes delved into the world of “cartapping,” in which law enforcement agencies used telematics services such as Sirius or OnStar to locate or eavesdrop on individuals under investigation.

So there are multiple ways this could go. What if there was a rouge Sirius or OnStar employee who would eavesdrop on individuals? Since we are getting close to Valentine’s Day, what if the employee fell in love with a specific customer based on what they have overheard in their car?

Or

What if a police investigator continues to be outsmarted by a criminal. In an act of desperation in order to solve the case, the investigator woos a SiriusXM employee to gain access to the telematic services data and ends up falling in love.

Or

What if a wanna-be investigator ends up working for Sirius or OnStar and jumps at the chance to work with the local police detectives on a case. When the police think the technology can do more than it is capable of doing, the employee keeps making tiny changes in the system so that he can keep working with the detectives.

Or

What if a Sirius or OnStar employee teams up with a police department to take down criminals by “cartapping?” What happens when they get caught or one of them wants out of the game?

Who wants to talk more about how you can use this idea in your current or next story?

[Credit: flickr/freestocks.org]

E-mail emilie@real2reelscience.com Hours M-F: 5-10pm EDT, EST Weekends: 12-5pm and other times by appointment.
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