Big Brother on the road, getting more intrusive


Since 2014 American drivers have had to put up with a “black box” device that automatically records various items of information about their vehicle and how they’re driving it.  Those recordings can be – and have been – extracted from vehicles after accidents and used as evidence to exonerate, or convict, their drivers.  Nobody knows exactly how much information is recorded, or what it is, as manufacturers are free to design their recording devices as they please without having to tell their customers all about them.

Based on a separate NHTSA regulation passed in 2012, if a vehicle today does have an event data recorder, it must track 15 specific data points, including speed, steering, braking, acceleration, seatbelt use, and, in the event of a crash, force of impact and whether airbags deployed.

Depending on the automaker and car model, an event data recorder may capture many more functions, though car companies aren’t required to disclose exactly what those are.

There’s more at the link.

It’s rumored that with the advent of automated driving systems, the recordings will basically cover anything and everything a driver does, from eye movements, to body posture, to hours behind the wheel, to speed, cornering and all the rest.  GM’s OnStar and similar services from other manufacturers have long been able to listen to conversations inside your vehicle, slow down or stop it if requested by police, and perform many other privacy-intrusive functions without your knowledge.  The new technology is simply a more advanced version of what’s been with us for a couple of decades.

Now Europe is to face the same thing, if not even more intrusive.

Starting this summer, all new cars sold in the EU will by law contain a ‘black box’ accessible by authorities that records driving data.

From July 6, 2022, all car manufacturers will be forced to fit new models with a system that keeps track of technical data.

The data recorded will include “the vehicle’s speed, braking, steering wheel angle, its incline on the road, and whether the vehicle’s various safety systems were in operation, starting with seatbelts.”

. . .

Authorities claim the data will be “anonymized,” meaning the information can’t be used to identify the owner of the vehicle, although only the incredibly naive would plausibly believe that.

For decades, government have been pushing for all cars to be fitted with black boxes that track location data.

The ultimate dystopian scenario involves giving police the power to utilize similar technology to completely disable the functioning of a vehicle if the driver is deemed to have committed an infraction.

This doesn’t need to be a criminal offense, if the pursuit of social credit score schemes continues to become more invasive, it would eventually be used as a form of punishment for everything from unpaid utility bills to offensive comments posted on social media.

Again, more at the link.

I hadn’t thought of the use of such devices in conjunction with “social credit score schemes”, but it’s entirely feasible.  Imagine what would happen if insurance companies were to refuse to insure drivers who did not allow them to access their vehicle’s “black box” on demand?  That would take those drivers off the road as effectively as confiscating their vehicle.  The insurers could then use the data they obtain to analyze what they consider “risky behavior”, and use that to inform other coverage (life insurance, health insurance, etc.).  Those defined as “risky” due to their driving behavior might find themselves severely penalized and restricted in many other areas as well.  For example, what if no landlord will rent to a “risky” tenant?

That’s a scary thought . . . but it’s by no means impossible.



  1. It's gotten worse than Black Boxes recording you:

    Biden’s New Bill Has A Scary Built In Backdoor

    Deep within President Joe Biden’s recently signed infrastructure bill is a passage that will require automakers to begin including a “vehicle kill switch” within the operating software of new cars. The measure has been positioned as a safety tool to help prevent drunk driving, and by 2026 the kill switch will be mandated on every new car sold in the United States.

    According to the Daily Caller, the legislation is frighteningly short on details. As per the documents, it’s known the proposed safety device will “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired.”

    In software terms, passively suggests the kill switch will always be running in the background and constantly monitoring the vehicle for deviation from normal driving habits, which will also mean the vehicle will need to learn your specific idiosyncrasies behind the wheel in order to better profile your behavior.

    The system will receive data inputs from critical operational controls, it will also be capable of overriding those controls so as to disable the vehicle either before or during driving once impairment is detected. However, the worst part of the legislation is the open nature of the system which will feature at least one backdoor for third-party access to the system’s data at any time.

    The next step will mandate being able to shutdown the vehicle on 3rd party command. Tie that into your post, and you have an effective way to control the population, by controlling their vehicles. For those who point out that they have older vehicles, I'll point out the "Cash for Clunkers". How long before your older vehicle isn't allowed on the road, so you'll have to buy Big Brother's vehicle.

  2. Result: millions of cars on the road without insurance. Screw it. At some point the Regime makes it clear you're such a slave, why obey anything? Buy a motorcycle, i guess. Put assets beyond reach. Get off the grid as much as possible.

  3. On the plus side, the earliest generations of On-Star like systems used 3-G communication.

    As a sidenote: the flight recorders were a defensive move on the part of the automakers because of the number of frivolous lawsuits where people would put on their seatbelts AFTER their accident. Some attorneys specialized in these cases.

    The ratchet on the seatbelt spool was designed to be soft enough to deform when it was worn and an accident occurred. Those deformations are called "witness marks" for a reason. Many seatbelts also had energy absorbing, load limiting tear-out stitching that also served as witness marks.

    Never-the-less, auto companies were spending a lot of talent on defending against those lawsuits and jurors were not always convinced that those itty-bitty marks on the ratchet teeth meant what the expert witness said they meant.

    The state-of-the-art in 1990 was to "freeze" the 30 seconds of data immediately before an accident and to keep recording through the event and to some time-horizon afterward. The portion afterward was to capture secondary and tertiary hits from the vehicles piling into you from behind.

    I have no idea how much data gets recorded/saved now

  4. As Eaton Rapids Joe says, aspects of this have been in place a long time. A friend was telling me about these recordings back around 2004, when I was driving a 1990 car. From what I can tell, that was the last car I had that didn't snoop on me.

    I have no idea how much data gets recorded/saved now All I can guess is lots more. Think of how big a hard drive a computer had in 1990 versus now. It's recorded on non-volatile memory like an SD card.

  5. Perhaps one should keep their older car. We have a 2011 model and we are NOT buying a newer car for many of the reasons stated here and several others.
    We like it just fine, its in good shape and we have maintained it properly.
    One more way to stick it in the eye of big gov, corps and the alphabet orgs (cia, etc.)

  6. When cars become fully autonomous, say five years,the need to record passengers will be over. Getting a car to not follow your driving locations….problem

  7. The first application of the kill switch will be by car loan underwriters after the first missed payment.

    Or after the DMV fails to receive proof of insurance coverage.

    I suspect the finance and insurance industries are behind this.

    Don in Oregon

  8. Let it record. Just learn how to find and wipe it at will. And prevent it from transmitting or receiving beyond the car frame. This will become a growth industry over time, mark my words. Better still, a workaround to pump in "data input" that shows you were driving 35 with your seat belt on at all times, even on the interstate. Probably through the OBD port.

    And yes, OnStar has a microphone. I have diagonal cutters and a screwdriver. Checkmate.

  9. UNknown, January 7, 2022 at 10:03 AM

    That's the first comment I can really get behind.

    Most cell phone under a buy/upgrade plan are locked
    to that vendor if you don't pay the service and the
    phone itself stops working. The financial model works.
    So why not cars? Non-payment, No insurance, Warrants
    on the owner for traffic or parking violations, hit
    the off switch.

    Didn't say I like it only it makes more sens than
    big brother as the enforcement part is in industry

    The good news is the older 3G without LTE in many
    areas are going dark as the Cell vendors need that
    bandwidth and towers for 5G.

    Me I'd never buy a car that calls home. If I did
    I'd cripple the radio (that what cell is a
    transceiver) it uses.


  10. I think I'm OK with my '86 Toyota pick up. I'm so old and the truck is so ugly, that I've only been pulled over twice. Both times the cop determined I should be on my way after a warning and a quick records check. The appearance is also a very effective anti-theft system.

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