Thursday, December 11, 2008
OnStar and Freedom of Movement
In the current economic situation we are in, I would like to think I could plan to buy an American car the next time I go shopping. Maybe in a year or so. Shopping for a new car is always a year away somehow.
I would not want a vehicle with OnStar. All the wonderful features it provides cannot overcome the one troubling drawback. The actual prospect that a networked car can be disabled.
I don't believe it's a conspiracy. It's just a potential opportunity for corruption that trouble me. One of the things dictators do is inhibit freedom of movement. This is something that, intentionally done, hacked or abused is possible in a car that is on the grid the way an OnStar vehicle is.
My car has a governor that means its speed is limited to 135mph. It doesn't cut out, it just doesn't accelerate any more beyond that speed (don't ask me how I know). This never limits my movements. I don't have a need to drive that fast anyway.
OnStar is capable of slowing a vehicle to 5mph or less. This is very nice when someone has stolen a car and is causing a high speed chase to take place. Peoples lives are put in danger by high speed chases. The lives of my fellow citizens are important to me, though I still think I should be the one to log in and kill the car with my own credentials. I don't think someone else should ever be sitting behind a kill switch on my own car.
In the wrong hands, this is a tool of dictatorship.
What did we think would never happen that has surely happened? The current American government has given itself the power to declare anyone an enemy and to detain the person without charge or habeas corpus rights (the right to seek relief for unlawful detention).
I find networked cars unnecessary for law abiding citizens. Accident detection and communication are helpful. Remote access to a kill switch (or even a "slow down" switch) is not acceptable to me. It will deter me from buying a GM product.