Black Boxes & Orwell

The world of universal surveillance is upon us and so far not much of anything is really being said about it. Those who talk about “privacy” are written off as crackpots or malcontents. Anyone who complains about being tracked, monitored, or photographed is assumed to be guilty of some transgression against an employer, government edict, or society in general.

There once were technical and practical barriers that prevented corporate and governmental entities from tracking and monitoring our every move. There also once existed political barriers that discouraged intrusive prying into most aspects of our daily lives. These barriers no longer exist.

Inserting a benign microchip in a person’s earlobe and monitoring that person’s every move is no longer a science fiction event, it’s perfectly feasible and tens of millions will willingly comply with such a requirement. All that’s needed is the right concoction of incentives.

You say, “no way, the free and the brave will never stand for it!” Well, I’ve got news for you, they will. In fact they already are. The only difference is that the chip is not in their ear, it’s in their car — and soon to be in your bike.

Our all-seeing corporate and governmental benefactors have big plans for us. Call it “better living through constant surveillance and centralized control.” Private and government transportation interests have been licking their chops for years in anticipation of being able to charge/tax motorists on the basis of how, when, and where they travel.

The insurance industry and vehicle manufacturers can barely restrain themselves when it comes to expanding the capabilities of in-vehicle data recorders. There is no limitation to the length of time and range of measurements that can be absorbed and disgorged by these devices. Furthermore, the technology already exists to automatically communicate this data to roadside transponders. Today’s “black boxes” are the equivalent of a 60’s HD Rapido, but their most important role is fulfilled, setting the precedent for personal surveillance through personal vehicles. Take my word for it, the “V-ROD” version is waiting in the wings.

Surveillance for surveillance sake is sort of a voyeur thing. But surveillance for the sake of control and exploitation are what really get the juices flowing at places like EPA, NHTSA and your average insurance company.

One of the much discussed and hoped for components of the third generation On-Board-Diagnostic System (OBD 3) for emission controls is the ability (actually the authority, the ability already exists) to remotely read emissions systems’ status as vehicles pass by a roadside reader/transponder. And, better yet, the authority to send a signal that puts a vehicle in “limp home” mode if defective emission components are detected.

Actually, the “limp home” options are endless. Ride too fast past a reader/transponder? Limp home. Late paying your registration fee? Limp home. Outstanding parking fine? Limp home. Of course only official fee and fine collection agencies will be certified to re-set the limp home trigger.

Find Out If Your Vehicle Has A Black Box

Here a couple resources that will help you determine whether or not your vehicle has a black box installed:

Black Box Vehicle List from the Accident Reconstruction Network (PDF)

Black Box Vehicle List from Harris Technical Services (PDF)

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