CRAZY TAXI CLASSIC ON THE APP STORE

By cross-referencing de-anonymized trip data with paparazzi photos, a privacy retìm kiếm could tell how much Bradley Cooper paid his driver.

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The Thành Phố New York City Taxi và Limousine Commission does not ordinarily release its data. But thanks lớn a Freedom of Information request, self-described data junkie Chris Whong was able to obtain đôi mươi GB of data concerning 173 million taxi trips, including drop-off times, pickup locations, fare, tip amounts, and more, which he used for all sorts of cool data visualization projects. Private companies like Uber can even use this kind of information to accurately predict where a customer might want lớn be dropped off.


But it looks lượt thích the Taxi Commission may have sầu made a mistake, as pointed out by Vijay Pandurangan. Although it appears that they attempted to lớn anonymize taxi medallion and license numbers, Pandurangan was able khổng lồ de-anonymize the entire datamix thanks to lớn an overlooked vulnerability in about an hour. (He goes over how he was able khổng lồ bởi vì this in this post.)

In a separate experiment, Neustar privacy researcher Anthony Tockar used the data to show what sort of damage could be done in a spooky privacy experiment-slash-cautionary tale. Tockar was able lớn identify which celebrities, for example, took a specific cab at a specific time. All you have to lớn do is Google publicly available images of the star getting out of a taxi. By cross-referencing the Taxi Commission’s data with photos published to lớn celebrity gossip blogs, he was able to lớn zero in on rides taken by stars like Bradley Cooper & Jessica Alba, và glean information like how much they paid. Tockar writes:

In Brad Cooper’s case, we now know that his cab took hyên ổn to lớn Greenwich Village, possibly khổng lồ have sầu dinner at Melibea, & that he paid $10.50, with no recorded tip. Ironically, he got in the cab to lớn escape the photographers! We also know that Jessica Alba got inkhổng lồ her taxi outside her hotel, the Trump SoHo, and somewhat surprisingly also did not add a tip lớn her $9 fare. Now while this information is relatively benign, particularly a year down the line, I have sầu revealed information that was not previously in the public tên miền. Considering the speculative drivel that usually accompanies these photos (trust me, I know!), a celebrity journadanh mục would be thrilled to lớn learn this additional information.

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Now, whether a celebrity tips or not might be harmless blog fodder. Maybe they left a cash tip, which doesn’t recorded in the system. But Tockar took this opportunity illustrate how this data could expose ordinary folks like you và me.


By using GPS coordinates, Tocker was able to lớn traông chồng cab traffic to & from strip clubs located in Hell’s Kitchen between the hours of midnight & 6 a.m. By pinpointing the pickup và drop-off zones, Tockar could tell, with frightening precision, where a loyal customer of Larry Flynt’s Hustler club might reside. “The potential consequences of this analysis cannot be overstated,” writes Tockar. “Using this freely-obtainable, easily-created bản đồ, one can find out where many of Hustler’s customers live sầu, as there are only a handful of locations possible for each point.”

Read more here.

Update: This article has been updated to clarify that Pandurangan had no hvà in identifying the xe taxi trips taken by celebrities. His experiment merely showed how the Taxi Commission’s data could be de-anonymized.