September 22, 2011

EU setting you up for GPS tracking

PJC Journal – IanPJ on Politics
All new cars in Europe from 2015 would be fitted with technology which could save hundreds of lives every year by automatically notifying emergency services in the event of a crash, under a European Commission proposal.
Through the eCall system, on board sensors would detect a major impact and dial the Europe-wide emergency number 112, communicating a car’s location, direction of travel and the precise time of the accident. The technology could also be activated manually by pushing a button.
Commissioner for the digital agenda Neelie Kroes said: “We have taken the first step to ensure that millions of citizens will benefit from eCall, a system that can slash the time emergency services need to arrive at road accidents. eCall will save hundreds of lives and reduce the pain and suffering of road accident victims.”
The commission suggested the voluntary introduction of the technology in 2009, but uptake was slow – and the EU executive has now moved to make eCall mandatory in all new cars in Europe from 2015. Today it called on member states to ensure that mobile phone network operators upgrade infrastructure to deal with the system.
Costing €100 per car to install, eCall would not be an invasion of privacy, the commission said, because it did not track movement but only woke from sleep mode in the event of a crash. (source)
eCall will make use of the new Galileo satellite system that you the taxpayers have already coughed up Billions for. Crash reporting is how the EU will be selling this system. but note the last paragraph – eCall would not be an invasion of privacy, the commission said, because it did not track movement but only woke from sleep mode in the event of a crash.

Until that is they start writing the real extended uses into this or that regulation or diktat.

Now lets look at the equivalent US system, called OnStar. (OnStar incidently is owned by the US Government).

OnStar was also sold on the basis that it would be a crash reporting system, but now the mission creep has started, new terms and conditions apply, and everyone gets a piece of the action, especially the Government and Law Enforcement..
The complete update can be found here. Not surprisingly, I even had to scrub the link as it included my vehicle’s VIN number, to tell OnStar just what customers were actually reading the new terms and conditions.
The first section explains the information that’s collected from the vehicle. No big deal. Sounds rather innocuous and boring. I imagine most people probably drool out and close the window by the time they get this far. Your contact information, billing information, etc. is collected. Nobody cares about tire pressure and crash information being collected – after all, that’s what OnStar is there for. Toward the end, you’ll read about how GPS data is collected, including vehicle speed and seat belt status. Again, in an emergency, this is very useful and most customers want an emergency services business to collect this information - when necessary. And the old 2010 terms and conditions only allowed OnStar to collect this information for legitimate purposes, such as recovering a stolen vehicle, or when needed to provide other OnStar services to customers on demand. As you scroll down the list of information collected, you see that once you get past important emergency services (what we pay OnStar for), OnStar now has given themselves the right to also use this information to stuff their pockets. OnStar has granted themselves the right to collect this information “for any purpose, at any time, provided that following collection of such location and speed information identifiable to your Vehicle, it is shared only on an anonymized basis.” – This provides carte blanche authority for OnStar to now track and collect information about your current GPS position and speed any time and anywhere, instead of only in the rare, limited circumstances the old contract outlined.
Do go and read the whole article, it really is informative. It smacks of both the US and the EU stepping up with the ‘must know exactly where everyone is 24 hours a day’ syndrome, along with their corporate partners who will make a fortune whilst government bodies collect the data.
When these new cars hit the roads across Europe in 2013, I can only suggest to people that they disconnect this built in system from day 1, if you value your privacy. As the article says, apart from government getting your data, just imagine…
Imagine your personal data being sold to any number of their “affiliates”, and a few months later, you start to receive targeted, location-specific advertising based on where you’ve traveled. Go to Weight Watchers every week? Expect an increase in the amount of weight loss advertising phone calls. Go to the bar frequently? Anticipate a number of sleazy liquor ads to show up in your mailbox. Sneak out to Victoria Secret for something special for your lover? You might soon be inundated with adult advertising in your mailbox.
Privacy? The EU doesn’t have a clue, but I will defend mine to the limit.

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