The Guardian reports on UK proposals for EU-wide vehicle surveillance (Big Brother is watching: surveillance box to track drivers is backed – dated 31/3/09, so presumably not an April Fool!):
The government is backing a project to install a "communication box" in new cars to track the whereabouts of drivers anywhere in Europe, the Guardian can reveal.
Under the proposals, vehicles will emit a constant "heartbeat" revealing their location, speed and direction of travel. The EU officials behind the plan believe it will significantly reduce road accidents, congestion and carbon emissions. A consortium of manufacturers has indicated that the router device could be installed in all new cars as early as 2013.
This is getting ridiculous. We are the most spied on country – CCTV cameras everywhere, planned monitoring of all our communications, restrictions on travel within the UK, and now our dear Government want to monitor where all drivers are, where they are going, what their speed is etc. As usual, the UK government is at the heart of the proposal:
The Department for Transport said there were no current plans to make installation of the technology mandatory. However, those involved in the project describe the UK as one of the main "state backers". Transport for London has also hosted trials of the technology.
Of course it’ll start as a voluntary technology, but as the article says:
Although the plan is to initially introduce the technology on a voluntary basis, Kompfner conceded that for the system to work it would need widespread uptake. He envisages governments making the technology mandatory for safety reasons.Any system that tracks cars could also be used for speed enforcement or national road tolling.
Roads in the UK are already subject to the closest surveillance of any in the world. Police control a database that is fed information from automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras, and are able to deduce the journeys of as many as 10 million drivers a day. Details are stored for up to five years.
So basically, we’re already spied on as we go about our lawful business, but the government has plans to go after all of us. Simon Davies of Privacy International, who has proven to be entirely useless over the intrusive Phorm deep packet inspection technology, has been quoted:
"The problem is not what the data tells the state, but what happens with interlocking information it already has. If you correlate car tracking data with mobile phone data, which can also track people, there is the potential for an almost infallible surveillance system."
No, Simon, the first problem is the quantity of information the Government proposes to collect about its citizens who are on the main just going about their own lawful business.