Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Am I a prophet, or what?

Last week I wrote about how Big Brother is becoming paranoid and insanely intrusive.  One of the points I listed in support of my contention was this:

Motor vehicle computers (so-called 'black boxes) are being programmed to record more and more information about their activities, and how their drivers manage them.  There are efforts to expand the amount of data recorded, but there are no legal restrictions on how such data may be used.

Am I a prophet, or what?  CNS News reports:

Before the end of this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will decide whether or not to begin the rulemaking process to mandate that newly manufactured cars include what is being called “vehicle-to-vehicle” (V2V) communications technology that constantly broadcasts via radio wave the car’s location, direction, speed and, possibly, even the number of passengers it is carrying.

. . .

NHTSA sees this technology as the first step on a “continuum” of automotive evolution that will ultimately lead to fully automated vehicles navigated by internal electronics linked to external infrastructure, communications and database systems.

The upside of a government-mandated movement toward cars that are not controlled by the people riding in them is that it could make transportation safer, allow people to use time spent in a vehicle for work, rest or entertainment, and give people who are currently incapable of driving because of age or disability the opportunity to move as freely as those who can now drive.

The downside is that such a transportation system would give the government at least the capability to exert increasing control over when, where, if - or for how much additional taxation - people are allowed to go places in individually owned vehicles. It could also give government the ability to track where people go and when.

The Obama administration says this is something it has “no plans” to do even if it does mandate V2V technology in all new cars.

. . .

“What was once previously thought of as science fiction and decades away from reality may now appear to be just around the corner,” NHTSA Administrator Strickland told the Senate Commerce Committee in written testimony in May.

There's more at the link.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.

If you believe that the Obama administration - any administration, for that matter - is to be trusted when it says it has 'no plans' to use such features or impose such restrictions, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn, NYC I'd like to sell you.  That's like the government offering to help you calculate how much tax you owe.  Guess on whose side the margin of error is likely to fall?

I predict with confidence that such technology will start by being mandated in US cities with the biggest traffic problems.  It'll be promoted as "a way to sort out the gridlock".  It'll then spread to most large city centers, initially during rush hour periods, then in due course to 24/7/365.  In other words, even if you live in an area where it's not mandated by law, your vehicle will still have to have this technology if you wish to drive into any major city - otherwise you'll be barred from using your own vehicle there.  You'll have to park at a remote site and take public transport into town.  If you don't want (or can't afford) to buy a new vehicle with all these electronic gizmos on it . . . too bad.  You're S.O.L.

Big Brother.  Wash, rinse, repeat . . .



Borepatch said...

Buy a GTO. Not only will the EMP guns not disable your car (well, it will restart when you pop the clutch), but you can likely outrun the fuzz.


wordlet said...

I hope recent events will inspire automakers to encrypt any vehicle-to-vehicle information. This would require a connection to be established with another car, and some method to confirm this car is actually on the road with you, and not just someone snooping for information on your driving habits. The only way they could get the information then is to follow you around everywhere, and then, they have that information anyway don't they?

I think cars without this will eventually get either a cheap 'module' with basic sensors (the average smartphone has the capabilities to report most of this information) or the 'historical' designation that already exists today, not sure what the limits are for cars with that but I think that would be at least a couple decades out anyway.

I don't think the cars with this will ever be in a situation where they can rely solely on V2V communications because otherwise if there was some random object on the road they'd run right through it. So it'd be dumb to not allow -any- cars without the tech, at least for a long long time.

Anonymous said...

I see many large fortunes in the making.

The black box (actually, most cars have about 3 of them) is hardware, so the chip-and-circuit board geeks will be involved, but the real money will be made by the software brigade.

Making the car work is pretty simple - cars have had computers, of varying complexity, doing that for 20+ years. Data management, and reporting of that data, however, is a different animal.

The "make the car work" is the canned software part, and it can be lifted from the existing firmware already in the black boxes.

The "data reporting" part is where the money will be. Tracking, for example; it's not that big a deal to spoof real GPS coordinates with fake, known coordinates. For example, you may be driving on Park Avenue in lower Manhattan, but using the box's GPS "library" it shows you on Union Ave in Paterson, New Jersey (both streets run roughly SW-NE but are 25 miles apart). Speed reporting can be spoofed as well. Or, how about your car "never having been in Ohio" because all the data it reports comes from Texas?

Need some sort of "car identifier" to drive in this city? OK, what "car identifier" would you like? How about if your Mercedes masquerades as a delivery van from Earl's Dry Cleaning?

The government has been lying to us for decades, thanks to Obama everyone now knows just how much it's been lying. So, what's wrong with using the same philosophy against them? Oceans of worthless data is easy to achieve.

And a number of people will get very, very rich doing it.

Divemedic said...

These ever expanding police powers are truly frightening. I hate to go all Godwin, but I used to wonder how good people in Germany sat still and allowed the Nazis, or the good people in Soviet Russia allowed the Marxists, to establish a police surveillance state.
Now I know. This time, we are being watched, not by the secret police, but by our own possessions. Truly brilliant and scary at the same time: the government is getting us to purchase our own chains.