The federal government is considering a plan to require all new vehicles sold in the United States to include tracking devices using GPS-style data – letting the government follow everything on wheels in the name of safety.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will announce in “coming weeks” whether to force automakers to include “smart technology” that would let vehicles communicate their positions to other vehicle, provide warnings about potential crashes, according to an ABC News report.
According to the Government Accountability Office, the technology could provide enough information to “provide warnings to drivers in as much as 76 percent of potential multi-vehicle collisions.”
“Widespread technology depends on other cars having the same system so they can talk to each other,” David Wise, director of the GAO’s Physical Infrastructure Team, told ABC.
So cars will be able to talk to each other, but anyone – including the government – could be listening.
“Privacy is the real challenge,” Wise acknowledged. “Who has access and how do you secure the data?”
As becomes clearer with every hacking scandal – Edward Snowden to Target customers being targeted – true data security is impossible to guarantee. And as to who has access, does anything think a tracking system mandated by the federal government won’t include access for the federal government?
And all of this for the illusion of safety. As the ABC report notes, the systems could provide warning information to drivers in 76 percent of collisions. Any competent driver should be able to get that information from his own eyes. And even if the information, such as another vehicle slowing or veering unexpectedly, is out of a driver’s reach, there’s no guarantee that simply having it available means the a driver will be able to react in time.
And if the information is wrong, If the V2V system gets hacked by someone out to sow chaos in the highway — as opposed to, say hijacking airplanes — the potential for more accidents is even higher.’
It’s important to note that this isn’t some tracking system car owners purchase for their own peace of mind in event of emergency — OnStar or the like. Those are voluntary contracts between a buyer and a seller, and can be cancelled as the contract calls for. And it’s not the same a feature automakers offer that allows police to track a car if it it’s stolen. This is a government mandate on all vehicles — and another government intrusion into the private lives of the American public.
And it’s a literal example of Ben Franklin’s old dictum about people who surrender liberty for illusory security.
They deserve neither. And will get neither.
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