Reader Question: The Dark Side of Dashcams?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Nasir asks: Eric, big fan of yours, and mostly agree with everything you say. One area Im not 100 percent with you is dashcams – which you have said before you are a fan of.

Why? Firstly – here in the UK if anything happens, the police can force you to hand them over. If you don’t (or accidentally hit delete) you get done for obstruction of justice. People have been done for speeding here by their own dashcams!

The bigger reason however Im against them is that what about others having them, particularly Clovers?

Last year my fear was becoming a reality because one company actually created a database for everyone to voluntarily update video of anything they see on the road that’s not Clover approved. Originally it was sold to the sheep as a way government send people advice on driving or highlighting dangerous driving. What I was afraid of was police will eventually just turn to the database and look for “crimes” every time they wanted to get paid. Unfortunately that’s exactly what has happened one short year later!

It seems seems all so reminiscent of stories we used to hear about communist Russia where people would report on another for various crimes – and goes another step further to creating the perfect police state. What’s worse is now the more desperate the government gets for money – the more they will look into the database to fish out past crimes. In the future, given many cars themselves have cameras all around them, it’s just a matter of time before some clover in tech will figure out a brilliant way to make them all dashcams  and them eventually with black boxes/connected cars the cops will have access to all of the data. I guess my question is do you see any hope with where this is going?

My reply: You paint a dark – and very possible future scenario. Especially as regards built-in cameras in “connected” cars. Video can be streamed to the insurance mafia or the government – both of them – just as easily as data about your location and speed and so on.

You’re also right that one car could narc out another car – with its Clover driver even having to bother about it.

Right now, the situation – in the United States – is a little better than in the UK  because we still have the technicalities of the First and Fourth Amendment, though both have been heavily “modified” by the government – the arbiter of its own powers. So there is utility in having a camera to record interactions with AGWs as well as to document what actually happened when an accident happens.

But, I get your point. And I agree that what you are already dealing with is something we in America will be dealing with soon – and that we’ll both be dealing with the things you dread cameras will be used for in the near future.

Ten years ago, such talk would have been viewed by most as alarmist – even pathological (paranoid).

Today, it’s as obvious as a freight train coming down the tracks 100 yards away. Yet most people seem almost narcoleptically blase about this Brave New World of near-total observation (which means near-total control) that is emerging all around them.

I suppose they imagine it will be benign – or they are just resigned to the inevitability of it.

God help us.

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. Eric,

    “I suppose they imagine it will be benign – or they are just resigned to the inevitability of it.”

    People I discuss these type of things are of two minds.

    The first is magnitude. There just aren’t enough enforcers.

    The second is laziness. The enforcers don’t want to work ergo, that is why they have government jobs.

    There is some truth to both.

  2. I have mixed feelings about them. Every(seems like)trucker says they’re a good CYA device but looks can be deceiving. Wish I’d had one today to record the 3 times the truck I was driving cut off, once just turning onto a high speed highway and I barely got it(going up a steep grade)off the lane. The trailer was just outside the white line. It took me quite a while, or seemed like it, to crank it and push the Over-ride button. I had to turn it off and on several times. Finally the over-ride worked. It has a new coolant level sensor. It cuts off due to low coolant….and it’s full to the top. It doesn’t do it every start up or every run but I did notice every single time it stopped the engine I was headed east. Yeh, I feel the same way but I don’t stop.

    And speaking of AI, I had hell sometimes with the woman in my phone who made my headset calls on my S4, that died, probably because I didn’t allow updates. They were pissed and screwed up my home screen.

    Today on the S5 I tried to make a call and the woman in the phone said I had two missed messages. Well, it was a Monday and I expected it was work(it was goddamn robocalls)so waiting for my commands I thought to myself “oh fuck”, but evidently I had muttered it. Then the lady says “I guess you’re not having a good day”. This was a first for me. Normally it only responds to certain commands but I’ve never had it express anything other than “work”. It sorta freaked me out to be honest. I just wonder if she has a sister, a real life person.

  3. Hi Eric, thanks for your response. Yes I really worry where it will go with these dash cameras, or all the cameras on cars. You are lucky in the US with the 1st / 4th amendment you mention (well as long as they exist). But here for sure it seems it will get even worse quick. Now, its only the speed cameras or other cop cars we look out for – but in the future any car can effectively be a speed camera (or seatbelt/busted tail light detector, anything thats declared a “crime”. To go a step further – was just chatting to a buddy in tech about this – and he said that this is the kind of thing AI will eventually be used for – so instead of an AGW having scroll through video and looking for something questionable…. once it is uploaded to the database, the AI program can automatically detect if something “criminal” was done (and the AGW can continue enjoying doughnuts)…. I start to wonder what the point of driving will even be then!!!

  4. You are more likely to be in an accident or near accident if you have a dash cam.

    That’s what I deduce after watching dash cam videos on you tube – LOL

      • S. Carolina, that’s one of the states with some serious problems. East Texas is sorta the same. Evidently the people who settled west Texas went there to get away from east Texas(it happens to be true for the wife and myself….ok, my ancestors fled Alabama during the Holocaust, er, uh, Reconstruction. Leave or die was the order of the day.

  5. I’m curious what happens when a little old clover is doing 20 in a 40 and EVERYONE passes around Grandma (double solid), with either her or one of them recording
    (Either she submits the “evidence” or someone gets pinched later and because they got a cam, it’s revealed what happens)

    Also, if there’s an accident but 10 mins earlier the camera shows that you were going like 80-100 in a 65.


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