Googled by Ford

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For generations Ford worked closely with Firestone, which not only provided the tires installed on new Fords but also developed them to work with specific Ford vehicles. That relationship soured in the late ‘90s, when Ford – and Firestone – got very publicly Johnnie Cochran’d over Ford Explorer SUVs sometimes rolling over while being driven on Firestone Wilderness A/T tires.

To this day, debate rages over whether the rolling over was caused chiefly by subpar Firestone tires, under-inflated subpar Firestone tires, rollover-prone Ford Explorers, or reckless Explorer drivers. It was probably all of these elements to one degree or another, acting in concert.

The proverbial perfect storm.

In any event, Ford is developing a new relationship – with Google – that may make you roll over.

CEO Jim Farley made the announcement recently that Ford will be using Google tech already built into all of its new cars to “provide new revenue opportunities” – which translates as monetize the data streamed by the vehicle.

This can take many forms and includes the obvious – such as how and where the vehicle is driven, which data can be used to keep track of commercially driven vehicles and commercial drivers (so much for the being on your own that used to be one of the perks of being a commercial driver).

And of course, the same can be applied to privately owned vehicles as well, to keep track of how and where they are driven as well. The insurance mafia is very interested in that data since it presents a revenue opportunity to mulct drivers who never file claims or have them filed against them but do sometimes “speed” and commit various technical foul infractions, such as making a right on red or not coming to a complete stop at every stop sign . . . which routinely go unpunished because – up to now – they mostly go unnoticed.

An interaction with an armed government worker being necessary for it to go “on record.”

With the vehicle keeping track of everything the driver does, it’s all on record. Including how far you drive, another potential revenue stream the insurance mafia – and the government mafia – would very much like to wet their beaks in.

As things stand – if you own an analog car – you can drive as often and as far as you like and so long as you don’t file a claim or have one filed against you, neither mafia can dun you just because you’ve been driving a lot or far.

But if they can track your mileage, they can dun you by the mile – and that could be a very forceful revenue stream, indeed.

There are also incidental rivulets of data such as your preferences in food, the places you stopped to shop or visit – and so on – data you provided by tapping the touchscreen and using the apps and even if you didn’t since the car is keeping track of your travels, including your stops.

Which brings up interesting questions about who owns the vehicle – not in the legal title sense (that’s you, the putative owner, who paid for the vehicle) but rather in the meaningful sense – as regards who exercises control over what you do with it.

Which appears to be not you, the putative owner – if Ford (and other car companies) have embedded technology in what you bought and have legal title to but which they have the ability to control, even if you do not consent to this. What you actually have is a sort of license to operate the vehicle under the terms and conditions specified by the functional owner of the vehicle – i.e., the car companies that control the data and so the vehicle and thereby, you.

Bu the real money – and control – will come from Googled electric cars.

For example as via EV charging subscriptions, possibly folded into your monthly EV subscription (which they’re already calling it, to get people used to the idea of never owning their vehicles and possibly anything else, either and instead paying perpetually to have use of them).

Which could also be used to limit your recharging – and thus, your driving. A Googled electric car could be turned off or on at the pleasure of its real owner, whether that’s putatively you or “subscribed service” you.

“Lockdowns” could be so much easier when it’s easier to lock-down people’s cars.

No “mask”?

No drive.

“Connectivity is the biggest game changer,” Farley said recently – and he’s right.

Things will never be the same. They are already not the same.

Every new car Fords sells has a connected modem installed, which means every new car Ford sells is already “connected.” Which means your new Ford car (and it’s not just Ford cars) already isn’t . . . yours, that is. It is the functional property of the company that you’re paying for the conditional opportunity to use it, per the EULA – the end user license agreement.

To be fair, the technology as such – like guns – isn’t intrinsically dangerous. It can provide benefits, as for example remote diagnosis of problems with the vehicle and/or its systems. As via being able to get assistance with a problem remotely, avoiding the hassle of having to take the vehicle in for service.

The problem – the danger – lies in how the tech is used and more finely, whether people will have the freedom to choose not to use it.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with Ford or any other car company offering the tech and people being free to opt-in, if they decide the tech is something they want and something they’re willing to pay for and over which they have control.

It gets sinister when no one can opt out. When we’re all Googled by our cars, whether we putatively own them or not.

. . . 

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  1. As for opting out – impression products v lexmark should handle this. When you buy it, it’s yours and ford can’t make you operate it the way they want.

    Anyone else see the stupid ford “we change with the times” video.
    Just barf virtue signaling crud

  2. “It gets sinister when no one can opt out. When we’re all Googled by our cars, whether we putatively own them or not.”

    Welcome to the Hotel California.

  3. There’s always a way to solve these problems.

    Such as tearing off the dashboard with your bare hands and yelling “ERROR!” at the car salesman.

    You see, there are always solutions, you just must think of them.

  4. I’ve already made my Faustian bargain with my purchase of a 2020 Ford (con)Fusion about a year and a half ago. I got the lowest level of trim that had the “essentials” for me that I wanted, but passed on a hybrid and the sunroof option. Given that Ford was already offering a hefty incentive to trade-in my gimped 2014 Ford Focus as part of the settlement for that stupid dual-clutch tranny that was a rolling death sentence for the poor beast, about twice as much as they’d offer for a new F-150, it made sense to just get a larger sedan, as for me, THAT’s an “economy” car. The truck can wait, and I’ve other fish to fry than spend beaucoup bucks for a “Cowboy Cadillac” just yet. Included with this thing is a navigation system, fairly easy to use, but I’m under no illusion that they damn thing isn’t “spying” on me…I’m sure it has a microphone, but I’ve not been able to find a way to turn it off. But, since I’m using an inherited 2013 Toyota Corolla (goes to my “little goil” when she’s done with her Mormon mission later this year so she’ll have something to drive to school and work), the Fusion just stays PARKED for most of the week, only venturing out on Sundays to keep the thing “exercised”. At least the Nav makes it feasible to not use a Garmin, nor have to have “data” on my phone to navigate when venturing out to either the North Coast or in the hinterlands of Nevada. BTW, if I’m going to have a 24th-Century Starfleet officer in my phone, so to speak, give me LCDR Troi or CDR Crusher…or, akin to the Ginger or Mary-Ann question…BOTH!

  5. If anybody needs to be followed, it’s Joe Biden. har

    Have no desire to buy Ford, so I won’t worry if Ford has Google doing the heavy lifting, the ground work.

    Ford should give them away, you’ll find out which model is has the most demand. It will work. Google data can pay for the vehicle, it’s only fair.

    If you have a smartphone with a Google account, Google sends you an email on where you have been. Doesn’t matter if you have been across town or have driven to Crazy Horse monument, Google knows where you are.

    Ditch the phone and Google is lost, can’t find you. Simple as that.

    Chromecast knows you are watching YT and what music/program you are watching.

    It’s the data, stupid. Data schmata, Google can follow me and watch me all they want, I don’t care. My social credit score needs to reach zero, if that helps any. lol

    You can’t escape detection, every FAS highway has cameras lined along the road every so many miles. They see you coming and going.

    If you are traveling on a toll road, your license plate number is photo-recorded, they know where you have been, you receive a letter in the mail to pay a toll of 25 dollars, both coming and going.

    You are being watched 24/7 if you have a computer, no matter the system used, you are on the internet. Case closed.

    YouTube asks me to subscribe to commercial-free programming. No, I want to see the commercial. Commercials are informative. Except for Ford commercials, you can skip those.

    It electricity fades to black, it won’t matter.

    Got stuck in mud up to the tops of the tires in a 1979 Ford pickup with four-wheel drive, took some time, but eventually crawled out of the Oregon Trail ruts I made with those Firestone tires.

  6. I was in a position of having to purchase a TV last year. My grandchildren wanted to be able to play Fortnite and Minecraft as well as watch movies.
    There are really no options these days other than to get a “smart” TV, everything available was Android with Alexa and Google “Assistant ”
    I resisted because I don’t want Google reporting on every damn thing we do.
    I started asking questions of the manufacturers whether or not I could disable or uninstall these applications.
    No one would even tell me except Sony. After 2 hours being bounced around I got hold of an engineer who told me how to disable the apps. But he said the Android system is built in, but he told me when you do the initial startup do not accept Google’s Terms and Conditions.
    He told me the TV would have full functionality but none of the apps will be able to connect. He said I won’t be able to update the apps, but said that shouldn’t be an issue unless you want to use them.
    So far it seems to work fine.
    I blocked the sets built in MAC address on my router for extra security but so far the set works great.
    I suspect the same would be true of your Google car.

    • “There are really no options these days other than to get a “smart” TV, everything available was Android with Alexa and Google “Assistant ””

      I saw that coming and kept an eye open for ‘dumb’ TV’s. When they started to get rare I bought my ‘dumb’ one. Nice, because they were undesirable to most not having ‘smarts’, so I got it for next to nothing too.

  7. Oh, it’s EVEN WORSE than you could imagine. Or, more accurately, imagine your worst dystopian scenario, and it’s already underway:

    “A surveillance contractor that has previously sold services to the U.S. military is advertising a product that it says can locate the real-time locations of specific cars in nearly any country on Earth. It says it does this by using data collected and sent by the cars and their components themselves, according to a document obtained by Motherboard.”

  8. when i buy a new tv, it says you have to hookup wifi, nope. i turn off my wifi and the tv can’t find it, so I get a pass. then every month the tv says “you have to hook up to wifi”. nope.
    Same with my newer cars, but they want you to pay extra for the wifi thing. nope.
    so if they try to ‘make’ you get wifi for your car and pay for it, in order for the car to work, big problems

    • The idea is to offer you stuff for free so you sign up. Talking to the ford dealer last night all new rangers don’t come with a remote start on the key fob like many of us have come accustomed too. Instead the only way to remote start the car is using the “free” app. Which means google will know when you are going out for a ride. I think Hyundai has the same options but i beleive their serive is a subscription that you must pay for. I’m sure ford’s service is free because they are selling your data to google.

  9. I wonder if – how they will figure out how to hack these cars, and basically “disconnect” them from the hive brain at google…. Im sure there will be a market for that sort of thing… I know there was a way to do it on the old one-star GM cars where you can unclip the cellular modem from the brain. But now it may be a bit harder

      • I am sure that tampering with “your” car is covered somewhere in the “You might be a domestic terrorist if….” government goon handbook.

        Soon, even if it is not made specifically illegal, the AI traffic monitor will flag a “suspicious” vehicle if it is not sending out the correct factory signal.

        You don’t want to be monitored? You must be trying to hide something……

        • hmm thats true actually- one thing for sure, if youre car has any “modifications” insurance always uses it as an excuse to screw you that little bit more….

    • Nothing a bit of censorship can’t handle. Just like effective vitamin, mineral, and herbal remedies for disease are censored out of existence, so might any solution that dissolves your car’s connection to the hive mind. Myself, I would prefer a means to lie to the hive mind. Bad data can have a much worse effect than no data. Imagine the kink in the tail of the worldwide hall monitors if you were to be in 2, or 3, or 10 places at the same time, all 100 miles apart.

  10. I agree that offering such as an option is perfectly fine. But AC, power steering, brakes and windows, etc. that used to be options are now standard equipment. Translated to “you’re buying it whether you want it or not”. Many of these I have no problem with, which is good because I haven’t had a choice for some time. So even if it was “optional” it could still be impossible to get a vehicle without it. The first car I ever owned was a 6 cylinder Powerglide 1962 Chevy. It had the window sticker in the glove box from when it was new. If my memory serves, which it doesn’t always in my elder years, the damn heater was on the option list. Which would make sense if you lived in San Diego, Miami, etc.

  11. So they can send you ads and coupons. Like the Internet of Things now in your car. Can’t get a moment’s peace without some ad associate’s brain fart invading your universe. Like the gas pumps that bombard you with ads, weather, and headline propaganda. But hey, isn’t it all worth selling your soul for 20% off a car wash?

  12. Do you think there will be a future market for a car company that refuses to collect and sell your personal data? The last hold out for freedom. Maybe like a car company that makes not only family SUV’s but hot rods with 600hp? I think 75million who voted in the last election *get it* on what is going on in this country and will not want anything to do with these high tech bastards.

  13. It started with “oh, Software is Copyrightable”, even though software is nothing but an equation, just run multiple times very fast by other than a human. How can one copyright math? Then, “oh, Software is Licensable”, even though every other commercial transaction had followed the path of Exhaustion of Rights at First Sale. Noooo, Software is so much more important than manure spreaders and motorcars! Now, you get this, your personal data is not your own, and your motorcar is a service to be paid for multiple times, and monitored by Big Brother. Freedom is Slavery.

  14. Having no experience with any “connected” vehicles, I suppose that if one could find the transmitter and remove it or shield it in Aluminum foil, that the “connection” is required for the operation of the vehicle?

    • Perhaps. The ECU or Body Computer might then squawk and fuss, depending on how the error is coded. Finding the antenna and disconnecting it would require service information to locate the antenna and feedline, which, SURPRISE SURPRISE SURPRISE! is now dealer-only and not available for proles from certain manufacturers (like Deere). Ignorance is Strength.

      • It might be possible to trace the antenna cable physically to disconnect and ground it but I agree that would most likely cause the computer to have a hissy fit and prevent the car from moving.

  15. Agreed, any kind of technology is simply a tool, and can be used for good or evil.

    Couple of things. First, I once saw a rollover accident right in front of me. And no, it wasn’t an Explorer. It was an idiot (female, in this case) racing to make the left turn light before it changed, took the turn far too fast, and ended up rolling over. Fortunately, I was the third in line at the light, and the two cars ahead of me stopped to make sure she was OK, so I just continued on when I got the green. But I’d venture to say it’s idiotic, incompetent driving that causes most of the rollovers, not the car or the tires.

    Second, I used to drive a semi for one of the major carriers. Because of regulations and liability, they did keep track of most everything we did (though, fortunately, they didn’t have a video camera looking at us in the cab – I’d have quit immediately). Some of the tools were quite useful for driving a truck – adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning (NOT lane keep assist – I’d have quit immediately). I wouldn’t mind having similar things in a car. But I refuse to have anything in the car that takes over control (apart from adaptive cruise control). I’m NOT going to have the vehicle brake for me or fight against me with the steering wheel.

    And I HATE the idea of the car reporting back to the mother-ship on my actions. I wonder if there’s a way to disable that, like build a Faraday cage around the transmitter or something.

  16. ‘It gets sinister when we’re all Googled by our cars.’ — EP

    We’ve already seen how data recorded by Ring doorbells and Alexa devices gets collected by police and subpoenaed in court cases. A Google-sabotaged car is a far more comprehensive spying device, recording where you go, what you say and who your contacts are on your synced phone.

    As karma required, a company that started out with the naive motto ‘don’t be evil’ has morphed into a predatory monster. Recently it emerged that ‘incognito’ mode on the Chrome browser (which I no longer use) is a sham — Google and its advertisers can still track you.

    That is, Google not only spies on you, it openly and maliciously lies about it — making its ‘disclosures’ to the consumer worthless.

    CEO Jim Farley reveals a tin ear by allying Ford with a company as widely feared, hated and despised as Google. Even the very last simps to ever get a clue — lawmakers — are now pursuing Google at federal and state levels for its manifold antitrust abuses.

    Ford … I think it’s dead, Jim.

  17. Every CEO has one mandate: Grow the company.

    How the hell do you grow a company that’s been around for 118 years, has more competition than ever and some of the highest priced labor on the planet? Look for new revenue sources. I’m sure some sales wanker from Google pitched the data collection scheme where it got traction at the lower levels as a way to offset (or outsource) entertainment system development costs. Can’t argue with free, right? Or maybe Jim had a run-in with Sundar at an après ski event at Davos and it came up. And besides that, I’m sure Ford absolutely HATES the idea of having to supply software updates for the next 10 years after the sale, but not patching security holes could be bad for the bottom line. Better to let that to “the professionals” at GOOG.

    And if they don’t include this stuff, they’ll look like stuffy old Toyota. The kids all want Elon’s video game cars, at least that’s what the CEO is told from the market research people. Reality is kids are either gear heads or don’t want a car at all from what I see. For sure the growing latin-o population wants old gassers, not gadgets. The middle-age, middle class types want the gadgets. But as they move to old age and the K shaped economy really takes hold they won’t be buying anything.

    My prediction is that this won’t generate enough revenue(?) data(?) for Google to maintain, so they’ll drop it like they do everything outside of search and Android. Ford will be left holding the bag. It will stop working when the servers are shut down.

    • ‘It will stop working when the servers are shut down.’ — RK

      Creative destruction: yanking the plug on a Google server farm and watching entire sectors of the dead-Cloud economy lapse into beautiful velvet darkness, as the analog Lo-Teks beat drums round the mesmerizing licking flames of a campfire.

    • Unless govt subsidizes it because they want the data as well. They could make an offer, any offer and google & ford would jump. This is scary stuff. Imagine a situation where you violate the terms of service because you go to a store that google doesn’t like. Oops you went to cabelas and cigar international and had lunch at chic fil, you’ve violated your terms

  18. Went and looked at a new ranger last night just for due diligence i’ve already decided to buy a used F-150 or Ram. Do you know the timeframe on these spying devices installed in the cars? What year did these companies start tracking vehicles? Want to get one from at least the year prior. I thought ford began in 2015, but i may be off by a year or 2.


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