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Indybay Feature

Proposed law to require monitoring devices in all cars.

chipped slaves
Don't forget that 2008 is the year that all citizens will be required to
have national identity cards as well.


Updated:2006-08-21 08:46:12
Who's Watching?

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

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

Crimes require police work, not military action. To protect against
terrorism, you need precautionary measures, awareness, and intelligence
– George Soros
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