Here are the latest reader questions, along with my replies:
Clyde asks: All cars sold in 2018 are data miners, certainly. How about older models? When did mining start?
My reply: GM began equipping cars with its OnStar system back in the mid-’90s. This was the first general application of in-car telematics. Other manufacturers followed suit – and since the mid-late 2000s, most if not all cars have the technology to one degree or another. This includes, incidentally, Event Data Recorders (EDRs) which are like the “black boxes” in aircraft that log data – in the case of a car, things like speed, brake application, whether the driver was wearing a seat belt – and so on.
To be free and clear of all this stuff, you’d probably need to go back to the late 1980s and before. But that’s not so bad. Those cars were much simpler and no air bags, either!
John asks: What would happen if you disconnected the antenna on a new car? Would it stop the uplink of data? Is it stored in the car’s system to be uplinked later when the antenna is active or is it purged at some point? Can you, the car owner, manually purge the info in your car? I currently delete all info when I close out my browser on my laptop. I have to re-enter access codes and whatnot but I don’t have a contiguous stream of data to be mined. Is a tactic like this possible with the new cars? Is there a replacement chip or chips available in the aftermarket to gain control of the car from the manufacturers and their co-conspirators?
My reply: I am not sure about this one; hoping someone here who is more tech-hip will chime in. One problem, potentially, is that various in-car systems (e.g., the WiFi and “apps”) might not work. And it’s possible other car systems would be affected. Also, as far as I am aware, there is nothing analogous to the history/cache delete one can use to clear a laptop or desktop computer’s memory. There’s no obvious interface I’m aware of. In no small way, the telematics in the car are not under our control. They are set up specifically to be under the control of the car companies, which consider them proprietary – even though the car is (nominally) yours.
. . .
Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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