70 mph would be the forced maximum speed under the EU scheme, while a multitude of methods are already in use to track drivers worldwide.
As if the European Union (EU) hasn’t seized enough power, it now has its eyes on controlling how fast you can drive.
Under the auspices of the European Commission’s Mobility and Transport Department, the EU aims to take over for European drivers in the name of reducing roadway deaths.
The scheme, which would fit new cars with “camera systems that ‘read’ the limits displayed on road signs and automatically apply the brakes,” has been opposed by the UK Transportation Secretary Patrick McLoughlin. The UK has often clashed with EU power, refusing to adopt the Euro, and having reportedly considered backing out of the supra-national EU government over several issues.
A separate configuration that is also being deployed under what has been termed ‘Intelligent Speed Adaptation’ would transmit speed limit data from GPS satellites to vehicle computer systems and apply automatic braking. Both paths of the scheme to put drivers in the backseat would also cue verbal computer commands warning driver’s to slow down and use caution. According to the London Telegraph:
The scheme would work either using satellites, which would communicate limits to cars automatically, or using cameras to read road signs. Drivers can be given a warning of the speed limit, or their speed could be controlled automatically under the new measures.
Reports claim that the soon-to-be introduced EU law would also seek to retrofit existing cars and mandate the monitoring technology for all vehicles on the road. It fits squarely in the technocratic Big Brother class of control features, ever expanding through eyes in the sky, red light cameras, barking street lamps monitoring for anti-social behavior and computer and data surveillance that has now become ubiquitous worldwide. UK Transportation Secretary Patrick McLoughlin put it in those terms, telling the Telegraph:
“This has Big Brother written all over it and is exactly the sort of thing that gets people’s backs up about Brussels.”
Meanwhile, Britain’s Automobile Association (AA) criticized the potential to create unavoidable dangers that drivers would be helpless to stop. A spokesperson gave this horrifying but real scenario:
“If you were overtaking a tractor and suddenly needed to accelerate to avoid a head-on collision, you would not be able to.”
There are legitimate concerns that this same draconian control scheme, and others like it, will soon hit home in the United States, with implications for every American interested in mobility.
One more brick in the wall that threatens free travel, privacy and due process
There are many track and control plans that have already begun in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world. Just a few include:
• Google’s self-driving cars are already being tested in America’s streets. Last week, a top U.S. safety official called for them to include mandatory data recorders before they are released on the nation’s roads en masse. How there could be “human factors” at play for the owner of a driverless car is anybody’s guess.
• Already many drivers around the world have adopted tracking devices from insurance companies voluntarily placed in their vehicles that collect and monitor driving data and offer rewards and discount rates to “safe drivers” — while data is collected about every move your car makes and sent back to the company (and their partners).
• A new law under the Obama Administration has required that all new cars be fitted with mandatory “black box” Event Data Recorders (EDR) by 2014, which have already been added to most newer vehicles:
The collected data would include vehicle speed, whether the brake had been activated, crash forces at the moment of impact, the state of the engine throttle, airbag deployment timing and whether or not seatbelts were in use.
• Until a recent Supreme Court ruling, many police departments were tracking suspects’ vehicles via a GPS tracking dart without a warrant. Numerous loopholes in the ruling still give police plenty of leeway.
• It was just revealed days ago that Australia is adding some 25,000 license plates per week to its database which tracks ordinary drivers via a GPS-based “Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) trial, which uses global position systems and cameras fitted in police vehicles,” in part to catch unregistered vehicles, to aid in criminal investigations – and, of course, to build up a massive database with many applications.
• Random people have found GPS tracking devices on their cars, without having any idea they were suspects (or were they?). California student Yasir Afifi found a device on his car during an oil change, posted pictures of it online and contemplated selling it before the FBI swarmed him to demand he return it to them.
• The ACLU has already blown the whistle on the same practice taking place in the United States, with police around the nation collecting, storing and tracking millions of license plates, which it scans through a database to flag traffic offenders, warrant violators, suspects and more.
• Red light cameras have become so widespread they are almost ubiquitous. Catching offenders on camera and mailing them a ticket all without the presence of a police officer, they are notorious for generating massive revenue for cities as well as private companies. While many protesters have tried (and sometimes won) at having them removed on the basis that they violate due process and actually endanger drivers. In Florida, Department of Traffic officials have been caught changing the rules to allow shorter yellow lights, resulting in a sharp increase of camera-enforced red light violations. Phoenix, Arizona protesters succeeded in having the cameras removed from highways, though they remain widespread in other parts of the country.
• Many toll road systems now use tracking devices for pay/authorization, and they have also been used by police to catch criminals. From the beginning, these transponders were designed as a payment collection system AS WELL AS a tracking system. Here’s a link to the patent proving that intention: “Open road cashless toll collection system and method using transponders and cameras to track vehicles.” Adding further insult to injury, states like Texas do not hire toll booth operators, refuse to take cash and require drivers to adopt transponders or pay much higher rates via mail after photographing license plates and auto-mailing a bill to the registered address for payment!
• California’s Department of Traffic – and likely plenty of others – use the technology to track the flow of traffic, officially storing data on all vehicles moving past their monitors for 24 hours:
That is exactly what California’s 511 system does. Scanners placed throughout the highway network track the movement of motorists with toll transponders as a means of monitoring traffic flow. According to the California Department of Transportation, the system tracks individual ID codes, storing a movement history for each particular car in a database for 24 hours. Lawson suggested that anyone with access to the 511 database would have the ability to track in real time the movement of any vehicle of interest after having scanned its ID code just one time.
• Meanwhile, privacy experts have exposed the ability to easily hack these transponders and use them to track individual vehicles anonymously or to cheat on toll road payments, clone tracker devices or interfere with them.
• Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have lobbied Congress to pass a bill mandating that breathalyzers be put in all new vehicles. While it has not yet been adopted, the advocacy group has been pushing for it many years now (since at least 2007), in the name of curbing drunk driving accidents. A version of the bill has also been introduced in New York state, and would require drivers to pass a screening every time they start their car, regardless of whether they have come anywhere near alcohol.
• Since 2006, UK police have been deploying mobile devices to digitally collect fingerprints, photos and other ID information from drivers during routine traffic stops, logging them in one of the largest per capita database in the world. Metro police claim the records are not retained after being run through a national database, but taking their word for it would be absurd given government’s track record for respecting privacy in an age of “big data” (Snowden’s revelations implicated the UK’s GCHQ in conjunction with NSA spying).
Three of the Motorola devices are handheld and portable. The scanners can take a person’s picture, digitally scan a finger and search a national database for a match, all while cops are roadside on traffic stops.
• Worse, Police One magazine, advocating the use of the technology, admits that the “partial print” scanner makes frequent false matches, urging police to compare detained persons with the biographical data of suspects in their database. In a chillingly unscientific method, it recommends that: “If age, race, height and weight are considerably off from the individual at the scene, you probably have a mismatch.” This leaves the door wide open for arresting and falsely imprisoning innocent people — particularly if they bear any similarity to the physical attributes of existing suspects — that is prone to abuse and harassment, even if detainment is only temporary for hours or days:
Because the match is made with only partial fingerprint data, it’s always possible to have the data match more than one individual and to get a “match” of someone other than the person whose finger was scanned. Most of the time, comparison of the “match” data with the characteristics individual at hand clears up any misidentification.
Again, police and their lobbyists have dismissed privacy concerns about innocent people being entered into criminal databases (not to mention put through the paces) by claiming that the data is discarded after being checked against the system for matches.
The Orwellian control grid projected in 1984 was more than an allegorical warning; it was an emerging Big Brother system based on “big data” designed to manage entire populations and make decisions on their behalf based on promises of efficiency, catching ‘terrorists’, criminals and other bad guys. Such technocratic rule is designed to benefit the chosen “elite” who have authorizations to bypass the rules imposed upon the little people of society, who will be increasingly tracked via high tech surveillance devices that not only monitor innocent people but provide them with permissions to engage in activities, travel, receive rations (food, clothing, health care and more), clear screenings with authorities, get jobs and beyond.
All this has made the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights — and the larger idea of an improving, progressive free society based on the foundation of individual rights — little more than a doormat to tyrants trampling on the population and dragging in dirt with each new step. That relic, which establishes an expectation for the guarantee of privacy and due process (including warrants based upon probable cause before searches occur), was officially penned by James Madison based upon the input of numerous contentious factions of founding fathers who refused to ratify the Constitution until they were satisfied with civil liberties protections. It reads in full:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”