They’re Watching You and You Didn’t Even Know It…

The Government-Designed Car of the Future

Imagine if a snoop attached a tracking device to your vehicle that recorded the details of every trip you took, including how fast you were driving, whether you were wearing a seatbelt, and how many passengers you were carrying. That would be a serious privacy invasion. Such invasions are already a reality for millions of motorists. Without their consent and unbeknownst to the vast majority of them, “black boxes” installed by automakers are stealthily compiling data on their driving habits.

It’s being done in the name of “safety” – and for the benefit of insurance companies, so that they can readjust rates and deny claims based on accident data.

Soon, the government could be tracking all motorists as well. Thhe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed regulations requiring auto manufacturers to install “event data recorders” in all new cars and light trucks by September 2014. How much data will be recorded and who can access it will be completely out of the hands of consumers. As the capabilities of these data recorders inevitably expand, so will the potential for privacy violations and abuses.

There are plenty of hints as to what’s coming… The euphemistically named “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act,” signed into law in July 2012, calls for “vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications systems deployment.” It entails the installation of communications systems that constantly beam information about the location of all cars driven in the United States.

This dangerous provision provides the framework for a system enabling the government to tax drivers by the mile. And potentially gives the police a remote ignition “off” switch for all vehicles.

Remember “cash for clunkers”? That stimulus boondoggle took more than 600,000 perfectly good, running cars off the road and into the junkyard to be scrapped. Many of those mostly older used cars lacked black-box devices. If you can find an older car with low mileage that has been well-maintained, it may be your key to preserving privacy on the roadway.

In the near future, driving will be a whole new experience in more ways than one. The Obama Administration is mandating that new cars achieve an incredible 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. That’s better gas mileage than virtually any vehicle gets today – including hybrids and the smallest of compact cars.

The existing fuel-economy mandates have already forced – for the sake of aerodynamics – sedans of all makes and models to take the standardized shape of indistinct bubbles with poor visibility and truncated, difficult-to-load trunks. Now that Ford no longer makes the Crown Victoria or Town Car, no truly full-size sedan is available anymore.

Maybe the idea is to get us all into bubble golf carts outfitted with “smart” black boxes to keep us in line! In the meantime, keep your current vehicle well maintained if you want to continue driving it in the era of snoopier data recorders and crippling mileage mandates.