FYI -Who's watching

John Quayle blueoval57 at VERIZON.NET
Thu Aug 24 21:26:57 MDT 2006


>Who's Watching?
>By ERIC PETERS
>Big Brother will be watching you for sure by 2008 -- the year a 
>proposed requirement that Event Data Recorders (EDRs) become 
>mandatory standard equipment in all new cars and trucks will become 
>law unless public outrage puts the kibosh on it somehow.
>EDRs are "black boxes" -- just like airplanes have. They can record 
>a wide variety of things -- including how fast you drive and whether 
>you "buckle-up for safety." The National Highway Traffic Safety 
>Administration (NHTSA) wants EDRs to be installed in every new 
>vehicle beginning with model year 2008 -- on the theory that the 
>information will help crash investigators more accurately determine 
>the hows and whys of accidents.
>But EDRs could -- and likely will be -- used for other purposes as well.
>Tied into GPS navigation computers, EDRs could give interested 
>parties -- your local cash-hungry sheriff, for example -- the 
>ability to take automated ticketing to the next level. Since the 
>data recorders can continuously monitor most of the operating 
>parameters of a vehicle as it travels -- and the GPS unit can 
>precisely locate the vehicle in "real time," wherever it happens to 
>be at any given moment -- any and all incidents of "speeding" could 
>be immediately detected and a piece of paying paper issued to the 
>offender faster than he could tap the brake. That's even if he knew 
>he was in the crosshairs, which of course he wouldn't. Probably 
>they'll just erect an electronic debiting system of some sort that 
>ties directly into your checking account -- since the paperwork 
>could not keep up with the massive uptick in fines that would be generated.
>What Do You Think?
>If you think this is just a dark-minded paranoiac vision, think 
>again. Rental car companies have already deployed a very similar 
>system of onboard electronic monitoring to identify customers who 
>dare to drive faster than the posted limit -- and automatically tap 
>them with a "surcharge" for their scofflaw ways. While this 
>inventive form of "revenue enhancement" was challenged and 
>subsequently batted down by the courts, the technology continues to 
>be honed -- and quietly put into service.
>Already, 15-20 percent of all the cars and trucks in service have 
>EDRs; most of these are General Motors vehicles. GM has been 
>installing "black boxes" in its new cars and trucks since about 1996 
>as part of the Supplemental Restraint (air bag) system. Within a few 
>years, as many as 90 percent of all new motor vehicles will be 
>equipped with EDRs, according to government estimates -- whether the 
>requirement NHTSA is pushing actually becomes law or not.
>The automakers are just as eager to keep tabs on us as the 
>government -- in part to keep the shyster lawyers who have been so 
>successfully digging into their deep pockets at bay. EDRs would 
>provide irrefutable evidence of high-speed driving, for example -- 
>or make it impossible for a person injured in a crash to deny he 
>wasn't wearing a seat belt.
>Insurance companies will launch "safety" campaigns urging that "we 
>use available technology" to identify "unsafe" drivers -- and who 
>will be able to argue against that? Everyone knows that speeding is 
>against the law -- and if you aren't breaking the law, what have you 
>got to worry about?
>
>It's all for our own good.
>But if you get edgy thinking about the government -- and our friends 
>in corporate America -- being able to monitor where we go and how we 
>go whenever they feel like checking in on us, take the time to write 
>a "Thanks, but no thanks" letter to NHTSA at 
><http://dms.dot.gov/>http://dms.dot.gov/
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