By Eric Peters, Automotive Columnist
After a certain point, it’s not paranoia.
The latest brick in the wall is the predictably named “Moving Ahead For Progress in the 21st Century Act,” also known as Senate Bill 1813. (See here for the full text of the bill itself; the relevant section is 31406.) This legislation — already passed by the Senate and likely to be passed by the House — will impose a legal requirement that all new cars made beginning with the 2015 models be fitted with so-called Event Data Recorders (EDRs). These are the “black boxes” you may have read about that store data about how you drive — including whether you wear a seat belt and how fast you drive — ostensibly for purposes of post-accident investigation.
These EDRs are not new. GM and other automakers have been installing them in new cars for years — in GM’s case, since the late 1990s. What’s new is the proposed federal mandate, which would make it illegal to not have one — or (in all likelihood) to remove or disable one in a car required to have the device.
The question arises: why?
Several possibilities come to mind:
First, the EDRs could — and almost certainly will be — tied into your vehicle’s GPS. (Most new and late model cars, conveniently, already have this, too.) Then data about your driving can be transmitted — as well as recorded. To whom? Your insurance company, of course. Progressive Insurance already has such a system in place — voluntary, for the moment.
When EDRs are mandated, you will no longer have a choice.
We’ll be told it’s all for the sake of (groan) “safety” — just like the old 55 MPH highway speed limit and every radar trap in the country. Of course, it’s really for the sake of revenue — the government’s and the insurance company’s. Your rates will be “adjusted” in real time, for every incident of “speeding” or not buckling up. It’ll be so much more efficient than using cops to issue tickets. After all, so many fishes escape! With an EDR in every car, no one will escape. Your “adjusted” premium will be waiting for you when you get home.
You’ve got mail!
And naturally, they — the government, insurance companies — will be able to track your every move, noting (and recording) where you’ve been and when. This will create a surveillance net beyond anything that ever existed previously. Some will not sweat this: After all, if you’ve got nothing to hide, why worry? Except for the fact that, courtesy of almost everything we do being either “illegal” or at least “suspicious” we all have a great deal to hide. The naivety of the Don’t Worry, it’s No Big Deal crowd is breathtaking. Did the average Soviet citizen also “not have anything to hide,” and hence why worry?
But the last possibility is probably the creepiest possibility: EDRs tied into your car’s GPS will give them — the government and/or corporations — literal physical control over (hack) “your” vehicle. This is not conspiracy theorizing. It is technological fact. Current GM vehicles equipped with the same technology about to be mandated for every vehicle can be disabled remotely. Just turned off. All the OnStar operator has to do is send the appropriate command over the GPS to your car’s computer, which controls the engine. It is one of the features touted by OnStar — of course, as a “safety” feature.
In the future, it will be used to limit your driving — for the sake of “energy conservation” or perhaps, “the environment.” It will be the perfect, er, vehicle, for implementing U.N. Agenda 21 — the plan to herd all of us formerly free-range tax cattle into urban feedlots. So much easier to control us this way. No more bailing out to the country or living off the grid — unless you get there (and to your work) by walking.
The pieces are all coming together.
First, computer-controlled cars. Next, widespread adoption of GPS in cars. Then, EDRs tied into them.
Viola. “Your” car is suddenly under the control of others. Just as “your” other (cough, hack) property — “your” home, for example — is under the control of others. It does not matter that you paid for it. Or even that you have the legal fiction of ownership. You do not control “your” property — hence it is really the property of others. You are merely allowed to use said property — under certain conditions, by the leave of the true owners — the government and its cronies in the corporatocracy.
And once SB 1813 is passed and signed into law, there will no longer be an opt-out. In fact, sure as the rooster crows in the morning, you can bet the next step will a law requiring older cars not originally fitted with the technology be fitted with it — or else decommissioned. It is inconceivable that they — the government and its insurance company cronies — will allow anyone to drive a vehicle not subject to this monitoring and control. They will insist it’s not “safe” — and of course, “unfair” that owners of older cars not equipped with EDRs are able to “get away” with “speeding” and not wearing their seat belts.
Our cars were once a tangible expression of the freedom ideal. They are fast becoming mobile cages. And the really devilish thing is they’re making us pay the costs of our own imprisonment, too.