Do You Mind Being Mined?

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Most people are aware that new cars collect data. Few know they’ve been doing it for decades.  

Few know how much data they collect. And who has access to it.

On Board Diagnostics – a system that records data about engine operation – has been around since the mid-1990s. GM’s OnStar system goes back even farther. The latest systems go much further.

They can record – and transmit – data about your movements and your preferences, both of which are of great interest to corporations interested in making money by selling information about you to interested parties. And also to the government and its lampreys, such as the insurance mafia – which is very interested in how you drive. 

What’s most interesting, though, is that all of this information about you is – somehow – not under your control, even though you are the legal owner of the car. The fact that the information the car collects can be mined without your consent establishing the odd fact. 

It’s possible because new cars are connected cars.

Data is transmitted as well as received – typically without the owner’s conscious knowledge. He may have signed a User Agreement at the time of purchase – along with all of the other paperwork associated with the purchase of a new vehicle. But the details and implications may not have been fully explained – or got lost in the fine print.

The point is the manufacturers – i.e., the car companies – have real-time, wireless access to the data collected and stored by your car. So also, at least potentially, the government.

Big business wants to know what you like – and what you buy. 

And big government likes the idea of being able to keep track of where you’re going (in real time) as well as where you have been.

Connected tech could easily be used to facilitate mileage taxes – in addition to gas taxes, which will never be repealed or lowered. Connected tech could also be used to “lock down” your car during the next “lock down.”  

Many people don’t know that most new cars also have built-in cameras and microphones that are capable of recording visual and audio data.

Your opinions can be mined.

It works very much in the way that Siri and Amazon Alexa work. A number of new cars (including several Toyota models) already have Alexa built into them from the factory.

The interests want your data to be their property. The way they want to do this is by making the data (and access to it) proprietary. You nominally own the vehicle – and get to pay for it.

But they assert ownership of the data.

Right now, they are fighting among themselves for what’s on the table. GM recently announced it would soon be using its own, in-house technology to power the wireless/Bluetooth apps in GM electric vehicles, rather than software developed by Apple (CarPlay) or Google (Android Auto). That way, GM controls the data – and can profit from mining it.

Meanwhile, the source of all this data – and revenue – doesn’t even get a rebate coupon in the mail.

. . .

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  1. Eric,

    The data, as others point out, is being sold to a lot of entities, including insurance companies. Every speed limit violation, every hard braking, every sudden lane change, every incomplete stop, etc. all will go on your record with regards to insurance rating and eventually your “Social Score”.

    This thread has quite a discussion about disabling the Ford datalink.

    The short answer is to either pull the fuse to the TCU or pull the antenna connections at the TCU. Some have pulled the antenna connection at the shark fin. It appears that the cellular and GPS run off different coax cables, so you can just pull the cellular connection and still keep the GPS working.

    The late model F150 TCU location is on the rear wall, driver side behind the seat.

    I am unsure if the system stores data that can be downloaded at the dealer via plug-in. It would be nice to know how to wipe this data before a dealer visit

    Also interesting that the Wi-Fi is always looking for an open network to connect to and dump data back to Ford.


  2. When cashy is given the courtesy of eliciting a response cashy has effectively appropriated the discussion. And the cashy objective works because I push the back button and tune out when I would really like to read the legitimate comments.

    • I hear you, Albert –

      And, I apologize for Cashy. I’ve begun trashing some of the worst; i.e., the ones that are just gratuitously provocative that add nothing to the discussion and are obviously meant to disrupt, annoy and provoke. I may end up flushing him down the toilet altogether. It all depends on him.

      • Hi Eric,

        I’ve seen similar behavior on social media. There are certainly keyboard warriors out there who just wish to cause trouble, which they then use to call critics of, say, COVID jabs, climate change zealotry, or the Biden regime as “Uneducated Anti-vaxxers”, “______ Deniers”, “White Supremacists”, etc. They usually do this if they’ve LOST an argument or don’t have any counter arguments.

      • Cashy –

        The issue most people (me, among them) have with your posts isn’t that they are hurting our feelings. It is that they are disingenuous. On numerous occasions, I have carefully explained what my views are on “x” – as for example that I believe people who harm others are morally and ought to be held legally responsible for the harms they cause. You then proceed to portray me as an advocate of irresponsible conduct. You have accused others here of “freeloading” when they’ve done nothing of the sort. But you assert they might. Which you equate with have.

        Do you see?

      • A cry room would be needed for someone who actually cared about your opinion and needed to vent feelings of said betrayal. You are just annoying as hell, Cashy. You need to go play with the big dogs and get some lessons, first, before coming to a website like this slinging mud. Borrowing a movie line “were you always this stupid, or did you take lessons”? (bwa ha ha).

  3. Soooo (hypothetically of course) say I was to own a not-too-new van, like an ‘09 Odyssey, which has a map navigation touch screen and I didn’t want TPTB to be able to track me, is there a way to disable such a system? Cut a wire? Knock the little antenna thingy off the roof? Just wondering for a friend.

    • Hi SJ,

      This is a really good – a really important – question. It’s one I plan to dig into. I am sure there are people here who already know the answer. I suspect that, with an older vehicle such as yours, it’s a much simpler thing to do. The newer ones that have built-in modems and WiFi on the other hand…

    • GPS is a receive-only system. The satellites are basically atomic clocks with radio transmitters. Receivers pick up signals from whatever satellites are in view and use what they know about the satellites’ position at a given time (continually updated OTA) to figure out where you are. Unless there’s some other system (besides the navigation system) that monitors and logs GPS and then transmits the collected data by some other means, merely having a satnav in the dash isn’t going to enable any sort of tracking. Something like OnStar could enable such a capability (until it stops working because the old GPRS or 2G hardware is no longer supported on today’s networks), but if you don’t have that, the only other option for getting data out would be through a physical connection of some sort…and I don’t think OBD2 is set up for arbitrary vehicular data access.

      There are newer vehicles with event recorders of some sort, but I suspect they have their own method for getting data out.

  4. Off topic, apologies, but yesterday they took away our incandescent light bulbs:

    ‘It’s lights out for the incandescent bulbs that people have known, changed and singed their hands on for 140 years.

    ‘As of Aug. 1, the Energy Department will fully enforce new efficiency regulations that the old bulbs can’t meet, effectively prohibiting their retail sale.

    ‘The quiet phaseout of household incandescents showcases the power of government regulations to push changes in the marketplace.’

    For the airheaded Hahhhhhvid lawyer Jennifer Granholm to tell me what kind of light bulbs I can buy, just makes me want to punch my fist through a wall.

    I got 99 problems and a b*tch ain’t one
    She’s all 99 of ’em; I need a machine gun

    — Eminem, So Much Better

    • I stocked up years ago when they started banning incandescent bulbs. I try to do that with everything they ban. On to vehicles now. Lots of ammo, Got a stockpile of refrigerant, several different now banned insecticides, sure wish I had bought a lot of DDT years ago, and lots of t-posts and barbed wire.

    • I stock piled on the incandescent bulbs years ago as well, John. When the Feds are regulating your light bulbs, how much water you can have in your toilets, how much water your washer can use to wash (or pretend to wash) your clothes, your wood burning stoves, and now that idiot fool of a press secretary is all mum about toasters, you know this country is well on its way to hell, with no way back. When really, I see nowhere in the Constitution or Bill of Rights where they have any authority to regulate anything. They just ruin everything they DO try and regulate, but then again, I think that is the whole point.

  5. It’s not too bad – yet.

    In the US, there are a couple of things which can spy on you. The car has a “black box”, it’s now mandated by law, which records all the ECU telemetry and in the case of an accident, can be used as evidence. Most new cars have some form of this, but it’s not some GPS tracker.

    Some companies (GM, notably) are looking for ways to monetize their in-car infotainment. Their infotainment systems want to show you ads, personalized recommendations, that kind of nonsense. These kinds of systems spy pervasively, and I’d not buy a car with them.

    The last case, GPS tracking, isn’t happening yet. I happen to know a lot about this, as I work with mapping for cars. There are all kinds of laws preventing the tracking of your location. These laws exist in the US, but are a bit of a mess, but they are extremely strict in Europe (GDPR) and non-existent in Asia, where anything goes.

    The biggest way of your being tracked is by enabling voice integration on your phone, Siri on Apple, Echo on Google, etc. The hands free stuff where you can say, “Hey Siri, show me directions to the police station”, is always listening. Apple isn’t too bad with selling your info to third parties, but Android phones are terrible.

    Your car itself isn’t spying on you, yet. CA is leading the effort in mileage-based taxes based on GPS tracking.

    • >CA is leading the effort in mileage-based taxes based on GPS tracking.

      And for those of us whose cars do not have GPS, or “navigation” systems?
      Voluntary reporting of odometer readings? Or?
      What if the odometer cable is broken, or disconnected?
      I expect in that case we will be “deemed” to have traveled some arbitrary distance, for purposes of taxation, and the burden of proof will be on us to prove otherwise.
      Presumed guilty, in other words.

      • License plate reader cameras on overhead gantries, triggered by laser scanners or optical detection of vehicles on a stretch of road using stereoscopic computer vision systems.

      • Here in Taxachusetts they record the mileage every year when you get your saaaaaafety inspection sticker; be easy to send you a bill based on that.

  6. These Rat Fink cars are not going away. Reminds me of that old truth, “If the product is “Free”, you are the product.” My 2018 no longer has 3G connectivity, which initially pissed me off. Now I see that loss as an upgrade, although the Nav. system is still connected over 4G. Not sure if the car operational data recorder can be remotely accessed through the Nav. system, or needs? to be interrogated by a dealer computer scan. To be sure, my phone is a Rat. It used to be that you could remove the battery to completely turn it off, now perhaps a faraday cage? Or if you need Nav. perhaps a dedicated device without “Live traffic.” Love my 94 Honda Accord more every day. We are deep into the Matrix.

  7. I recall reading not long ago that vehicular “communication” transmission systems based on 3G technology had become inoperative with the move to 4G and 5G signalling. If true, this provides some hope that the relatively short lifespans of such communication modes will limit some of the information gathering going forward.

    • My Cherokee’s U-Connect infotainment system is no longer connected due to T-Mobile shutting down the old Sprint 3G network. FCA didn’t offer a fix, probably because it would require a rip and replace of the system and very few people would be willing to pay for that.

      I hardly noticed.

    • Interesting point, Bill — my 3G phone bricked on Jan 1st this year, when the 3G network went dark for good.

      Used vehicles with now-dysfunctional 3G data links would be desirable to own: stealth vehicles, if you will. But it is frustratingly difficult to suss out such obscure technical specs.

      You’d think a new generation of phone phreaks — the guys who used 2,600 Hz whistles to extract free calls from AT&T’s network back in 1968 — would be hacking vehicles today.

      Guess I don’t know the right people … 🙁

    • Pulling the plug on 5G will be impossible since the standard includes a communication option using “unlicensed spectrum” in the 2.4 GHz band, and, increasingly, people fed up with their home WiFi opt for hotspot/modem combinations provided by the cable or phone companies which make the devices part of the 5G phone system once installed.

      Not everyone in a given neighborhood has a hotspot/modem from AT&T, Comcast, or Spectrum, but enough do that communication will be extremely reliable.

      Built-in Alexa? Fuggedabout that vehicle ever being “off grid”. Assume anything meeting Amazon hardware spec and equipped with a 2.4 GHz transciever is online via other Amazon devices in the vicinity 24/7.

  8. If you have nothing to hide why worry about it?
    Sounds like there may be some criminals around here that are worried about being caught.

    • …”Note that the word in the phrase is “hide” and not “protect”, thereby implying that all that is not shared with any intrusive party must be something nefarious, something you’re trying to keep from those who have a right to it.

      And if you think about it, “nothing” is the wrong word, too: Forgive the vulgarity here, but would you use the toilet in front of your mother-in-law? Would you allow an IRS official into your bedroom at night? Or to move into your home and record every conversation that takes place? Would you open your private diary to your spouse’s ex or to your children? Clearly, there are some things we do indeed wish to keep private. […]

      Privacy is the first thing that a totalitarian state attempts to destroy.”…

    • That is typical liberal jargon, Cashy. That is the exact thing my socialist clients tell me when I refuse to sign up for Facebook or have Zoom meetings.

      It has nothing to do with hiding criminal activity, but protecting oneself from their own words, information, and data being misconstrued and used against them in the future. The government and large corporations have proven to me time and time again the collection of our information is to pad their own pocket. They have also proven they do not have the ability to protect this data. How many letters have you received over the years that so and so company has been hacked and to please watch your credit report for changes? Identity theft is real and is expanding by leaps and bounds. The less information that is collected means there is a smaller chance of someone impersonating you or yours. Now add AI in the mix. Your likeness, images, voice, etc. will be used against you. I prefer to not have my likeness, images, and voice out there. It isn’t about concealing anything, but safeguarding it.

      • Hi RG,
        I always reply to the “if you haven’t done anything you have nothing to hide” argument with “I haven’t done anything so you have no reason to look”. Leaves them tongue tied every time.

        • Hi Mike,

          “I always reply to the “if you haven’t done anything you have nothing to hide” argument with “I haven’t done anything so you have no reason to look”. Leaves them tongue tied every time.”

          Bam! Right out of the park! Brilliant, sir! Thank you!

        • >you have no reason to look
          I believe that is known as “probable cause.”
          As in,
          “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    • I had heard that there are people who use the “If you have nothing to hide” argument, but had never seen one until now.

      • I think you’re being overly paranoid. If you haven’t broken any laws what’s the harm in your information and movements being tracked and recorded? After all you consented to it when you purchased the vehicle.

        • Have you not heard that on average, each of us commits 3 felonies per day? There are such a massive number of “laws” on the books there is no way we can keep track of them, much less obey them. Which opens wide the door on selective prosecution. Per the USSR, “show me the man and I’ll show you the crime”. If the Psychopaths In Charge decide they don’t like you, they will find a “criminal” offense you have committed.
          I can’t decide if you are naïve, stupid, an agent, or just whipped, in spite of your “superior intelligence”.

          • Sorry, I was just testing to see how firm you were in your commitment to issues of privacy. You passed with flying colors sir! My heartiest congratulations. You are spot on with your post and were exactly right (except the part about me).

            • Seeing as how some of your previous posts have been supportive of state coercion (mandatory car insurance for example), if you’re going to use sarcasm you really need to identify it as such. Or were those earlier comments sarcastic too?

              • Reply to Roland:
                Without getting into the details I think you have things confused. The issue of data mining by cars is not an issue of government coercion. The car companies are private businesses and can install those features if they want. As long as you are not lied to about it. That is a very different matter then the government doing it. I hope you understand the difference.

                • What does that condescending little civics lesson have to do with my comment? Were you trying to be sarcastic when you said “If you have nothing to hide…” or not?

                  • you said IN YOUR COMMENT that I was “supportive of state coercion” the issue of a private company gathering data on you HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH the state.

                    • No, read my comment directly above this carefully, Cashy. I said you have been supportive of state coercion as regards mandatory car insurance. Why won’t you answer my simple question? Were you being sarcastic when you wrote “If you have nothing to hide” or not? Your opinions are all over the place, so I can’t tell.

          • Three steps to a police state:
            1. Have lots of of police.
            2. Make damned near everything against the law.
            3. Selectively enforce those laws against your political enemies.

        • No, not really. Even if I bought the vehicle, I don’t consent to any of this crap. In a just society, these so called “terms of service” contracts and all the rest would be rendered illegal in a court of law. Unfortunatley, we have a corrupt justice system and a corrupt country. One nation, under coercion. These contracts and terms are coercive at their core and technically invalid, and should be illegal at their face.

          I don’t have anything to hide, but it should be my freedom to hide whatever I want, whenever I please unless I’m accused of a crime. If I’m accused of a crime, produce the victim.

          Privacy is supposed to be safeguarded in the 4th amendment. Presumption of innocense in the 5th.

          I’ve heard that there is “no expectation of privacy” if you travel on public roads. Really? How many people do you see digging in their nose or changing their drawers in their vehicle, thinking that they are doing it in private? The judge who came up with that ruling should have his black robe put in the damned shredder. There are millions who would differe with that out of touch nonsense.

          The last 120 years of court rulings should be burned in a landfill. Nothing to hide…. pfft.

          • Under what part of contract law do you think the “terms of service” should be illegal? Are you making the argument that because no one reads the contract in its entirety that they should not be held to it?
            I don’t understand how you would ever be able to enter into a contract if that were the case. You could just as easily claim that the loan payment was not clear and insist you don’t have to pay it.

            It may also be true that you can opt out of any of the data collection and probably also have it completely disconnected.

            You mention the right to privacy and presumption of innocence. Those are prohibited to the government not to people. If you sign over your right to privacy then your have voluntarily allowed it.

            • The god damned terms of service are way too complicated for the average person. Who are they trying to protect. These things should be burned. End of discussion.

              You don’t check the damned constitution at the door when you are acting in the public domain. The constition may not apply at a private residence. That’s the way the thing ought to be. And it was before lawyers got involved in everything. Go away troll. This is a private site. It ain’t walgreens.

            • I may be watching too many episodes of Suits lately, but for a contract to be valid there must be an offer, consideration, and acceptance.

              I think it would be pretty easy to over turn the Terms of Service in a fair court of law. The Terms of Service would have to be accepted before the end user utilizes the product/service.

              Example, if I am testing driving a new truck the TOS would have to be presented to me prior to me getting in the vehicle otherwise the vehicle is recording me without my consent or approval. The contract is invalid if presented after the fact.

              There are also a handful of states that require two way consent (Florida, Pennsylvania, Missouri, California, Maryland, and a handful of others). Any good attorney would be able to void the contract and retrieve a very nice settlement for their client.

              • Raider Girl August 2, 2023 At 5:29 pm
                I may be watching too many episodes of Suits lately, but for a contract to be valid there must be an offer, consideration, and acceptance./////

                You are exactly right. However in your example a test drive is not a contract. There is no exchange of goods or money. At the point you sign for the vehicle you have entered into a contract. They made an offer, the contract was presented to you (whether you read it or not is your responsibility) and if you sign it you have accepted. Sorry but there is no attorney in the world that would take, let alone win a case that you had been defrauded on a contract you signed voluntarily. As my comment that was deleted mentioned the law does not protect you from your own negligence.

          • Hi Judge Joe,

            Yup. There is also the matter of opacity. These contracts are deliberately designed to be inscrutable and even impenetrable to the layman; ergo, they aren’t binding (morally) and ought not to be, legally, either.

            • Most are impenetrable by a lawyer as well. There is a legal doctrine, not used much for obvious reasons. Contract by adhesion. If the bargaining power of the parties to the contract. As in you versus Google, is like so much that it is take or leave, it could be thrown out by a court. Good luck nowadays with that, better a few years ago when there were more not bought judges, that is actually still true at the local level. Once you get into the appellate courts or fed courts, it is all political and many have obligations they must respect.

            • >contracts are deliberately designed to be inscrutable
              Not to mention voluminous, and illegible without visual aids. The phrase “read the fine print” comes from somewhere, and the print keeps getting finer and longer.

              Next thing you know, the “terms of service” will be reduced to a microdot to “save the rain forest,” and only James Bond will have the technology, or the time, to read them.

        • And there is that old saying that “if you are not paranoid, you are not paying attention”. And if you are willing to give up your privacy so willingly, go right ahead, but I will fight to keep mine, because I know what living without it is like. Been there done that, thank you very much.

    • Just curious, Cashy: Do you complete the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey every time you get one?

      What is your real first and last name?
      How much do you make?
      What are the names and ages of the others in your household?
      What is your street address?
      What medical conditions do each of you have, if any?

      If you have nothing to hide…

      • I don’t think the car app is able to gather that level of information.

        In regards to the Census form I do fill it out but I only add the information as required in the Constitution. Number of people living in my home.

        • What the Constitution says, whether cars gather that much information, and whether people unwittingly give their consent when they sign the paperwork are all irrelevant here.
          You are the one who advanced the principle, “If you have nothing to hide why worry about it?” Sounds like there’s a criminal around here who’s worried about being caught.

    • Cashy writes –

      “If you have nothing to hide why worry about it?”

      This assumes the government isn’t criminal. An assumption that is now demonstrably false. And even if the government weren’t criminal, there is something cloyingly paternalistic about government busybodies knowing what you’re doing, like a nosy neighbor with binoculars.

      You seem to think “government” is some kind of holy entity, with powers (and wisdom) that transcend that possessed by mere mortals. In fact, “government” is just other people – with titles and badges (and guns), usually third-rate people, too.

      “Sounds like there may be some criminals around here that are worried about being caught.”

      We know you’re ok with random roadside “checkpoints.” How about the government having arbitrary access to your home? Since you have “nothing to hide,” why would you object to government doing that? How about government cameras in your home? You know, to make sure you’re “safe” – and not doing anything “criminal.”

      Cashy, you are what’s wrong with America – and the reason why America no longer is America.

      • >In fact, “government” is just other people
        Yep, and “The Cloud” is just other peoples’ computers.
        The great ore body in the sky.
        If you are OK with that, knock yourself out.

    • More midwit trolling by Cashy. This moron either really gets off on having a group of people displeased with him (a self-loather) or he’s just a paid troll. I find it interesting that he goes away for a day or two at a time, indicating that those are his days office from the troll office for which he works.

      Cashy, let’s try this. Please provide your full name, address, occupation, sex, age, travel history, etc. Surely you’ll provide this since you have nothing to hide and you’re not a criminal, right?

      • Bingo. I like that idea. Hey Cashy, what’s your driver’s license and social security number? What are your vehicle tag numbers as well. Go ahead and post it.

    • Post your address and social security number here.

      Afterall, what have you got to hide? Or we can just assume you are a criminal.

      • OK Calm down, this time I was messing with yous. Virtually no one likes to be monitored and certainly without their knowledge. There is a case to be made that you agree to the monitoring in the legalese of the purchase contract but that is misleading.

        So go to they offer a free tool that will allow you to see what data is being collected. Privacy4cars has a free Android and iOS app that will delete personal data from the vehicles you drive or are connected to. It is very user friendly. I recommend everyone taking the time to sticking a finger in the eye of big brother!!

    • I have long been of the opinion that the principals (City Council, State Legislature, etc.) in any public meeting should be required to appear IN THE NUDE, with no “modesty panels” to hide their equipment. It would likely end the pretensions of pomposity and self importance, and significantly thin the herd of those aspiring to such offices.

      Clothing optional for the audience, of course. 🙂

  9. ‘New cars are connected cars.’ — eric

    And for a reason:

    ‘Accurate mapping of vehicles is critical for autonomous driving. Modern wireless communication technologies enable us to locate precisely and transmit information with low latency. Collected information can be used for efficient navigation and sharing with other nodes.

    ‘Modern navigation applications can be integrated into the infotainment systems; it will allow users to easily navigate using GPS/GLONASS systems.

    ‘Smart cars can communicate with modern communication networks like LTE and LTE advanced. Super charged 5G network and Internet of Things will offer effective management of smart driving.’

    Funny how the word ‘autonomous’ has been inverted to mean their autonomy, not ours. And ‘smart driving’ means cutting the idiot human out of the picture.

    As for 4G and 5G comms, I have yet to find an explicit description of how today’s vehicles interface with cell towers. Are they part of the cell phone network, with assigned 10-digit numbers? Or is it a wholly separate, vehicles-only network on a different frequency, using VIN identifiers?

    Would appreciate comments from network engineers in the know. Or is this considered national defense information, sharing of which is punishable under the Espionage Act?

    • At the core, 5G is just a collection of modulation standards. It builds on 4G in that the standard uses IPv6 address space, which makes it possible to address 3.4×10^38 unique addresses. The advances in radios mean high density modulation schemes can more efficently use spectrum, and new swaths of frequencies are available, greatly opening up more capacity on the networks.

      So might as well put everything on the net, right? This is what the Internet of Things is fundamentally about. We got all these addresses, all this bandwith, so we better shove more stuff online.

      As for your specific question about exactly how they interface, I imagine for a time all these devices will have phone numbers assigned. Tablets and watches still have SIM cards and IMEI numbers, even though no one will ever call those numbers. This is because billing and provisioning systems haven’t kept up with the engineering so they have to shoehorn in the old tech. I imagine as these legacy systems are upgraded devices will move away from a specific phone number but hard coded IMEI will continue, much like all Ethernet devices have MAC addresses. There’s nothing really inherently bad about having a hard coded address in any device, in fact it is pretty much a necessity. My mailbox has a hard coded address and I don’t know too many people who get upset about that. But then again, there are protections in place that secure communications in the postal network, and those protections were never carried over to telecommunications. In fact the opposite was the case, unfortunately.

      What’s changed is the opportunity cost of data harvesting and logging is so low that it is trival to do so.

      • This article (several years old) gives some clues:

        ‘According to Juniper Research’s M2M report last year, Car Infotainment & Telematics Services will account for 98% of M2M [Machine To Machine] data traffic by 2021.

        ‘Embedded cellular systems are typically isolated and inaccessible by the consumer once a vehicle has shipped from the factory. These embedded systems use internal antennas, which are often routed and mounted at the rear of the vehicle’s roof, in the vehicle’s mirrors, or even in the bumpers.

        ‘Modern vehicles often feature one or more embedded wireless modems, which are used by the vendor for functions like predictive maintenance, and by third-parties like OnStar for vehicle tracking, remote unlock, and other similar services.’

        I get the drift of the comms technology … but remain perplexed by how the details of its implementation in vehicles (and how to defeat it) remain obscure even to car buffs. None dare call it conspiracy. 😉

        • Last night I wached a documentary that tracked Qantas Airlines flight 002, London to Sidney. What many people don’t know is that every modern aircraft is linked to a flight operations center run by the airline. This is much like NASA Mission Control in Houston, where real time telemetry and communications with specialists assist flight crews and monitor for problems. There are engineers from Airbus and Rolls Royce available (mabye even on site) to respond to any issues, as well as medical personnel, meteorologists and (for all I know) wine stewards, ready to handle whatever issue might arise.

          Like most British documentaries the production goes way overboard with “human interest” crap but if you skip past all that it isn’t a bad way to spend 35 minutes…

          But back to the point, this stuff is all possible today, and might have some benefit in case of emergencies. It comes down to cost of sensors and network access. The sensors are already there, sitting on a CANBUS network. Adding a cellular modem is basically a chip or two and antenna. Accessing the network at a low cost completes the picture.

          But there’s a huge difference between the relatively benign surveillance of an A380 on a highly planned route and your impulsive drive down to the liquor store. There’s probably a half dozen or more people monitoring Qantas-002. Millions of cars will require AI or thousands of Indians on Fiver, but that’s moving right along too. Will the AI understand that you’re buying champagne for your 25th wedding anniversary or raise a red flag because you took your car to a place you don’t normally go? Will that red flag trigger a bunch of PSAs for alcoholics anonymous? A “welfare” email from your doctor? Why should it matter? Because if “it saves just one life” it will be worth it. As if a single life was worth billions of dollars.

          • As if thousands of lives could not be lengthened, not saved, with the same expenditure.
            No one is getting out of this alive.

  10. Enemy of the State was a farily well done film released in 1998 about surveillance and attempts to cover up wet work activity against a sitting congressman.

    A lot of the story is told through the eyes of surveillance cameras, database searches and other Hollywood “zoom and enhance” style narrative. This was before social media and Internet of Things connectivity.

    1998 was 25 years ago. In that time there’s been 5 major crises (counting Trump), 3 undeclared wars, and 16 iterations of Moore’s Law. The last gasps of religion were quashed in scandals. And the rise of US communism, like a zombie in a B movie, once again came into the picture.

    Why did we get here? Well, because we the people were interested in using technology without learning about it. We asked for an easy button, and we got it. We didn’t want to pay for computers, social media, phones, music or movies. Hell, we were already allegedly paying more for Internet than any other country (nevermind that all those other countries have state run telecom networks and they basically pay for an IP addres and DNS), so we better get content for nothing. And we believed the hype too, that our lives would be enriched by the network -and I would argue that’s probably true but with a lot of caveats.

    You want fancy software? You should pay for it. Software companies have never really done a good job of selling value. Much of that was because it’s always been easy to copy. Right at the beginning of the personal computer, teletypes with paper tape readers could easily copy Microsoft Basic with the flip of a lever, so that’s what the hardware hippies did. In fact most of the early users were quite socialist when it came to software, believing that software should be free for all. This has led to the open source software licenses, and the belief that open source has been a massive benefit to mankind.

    I don’t know if I can take the libertarian/free market side of that arguement, if there is one. On one hand I’m extremely grateful to the OSS community for making much of my work possible. On the other hand, people still have to eat, and that means begging for handouts or selling ads. And I don’t believe for one second that the rise of Communism with Chinese Characteristics and the open source movement aren’t related.

  11. Something else that government and corporations has been using to collect data on people the past several years are those smart meters that have been all but shoved down people’s throats. I read about a study that showed that not only can data be gathered from electrical smart meters to determine how electricity is used it can also be used to determine what television programs people watch.

    And this desire from some insurance companies for drivers to install a device in their vehicle’s OBD ports under guise of saving money on insurance amounts to having a smart meter installed in your car. I imagine there are those in government who would LOVE to REQUIRE people who drive any vehicle, be it gas or electric, install such a device in their vehicle’s OBD port and charge them by the mile and/ or by how many “Carbon footprints” their vehicle emits.

    • Our area was late to the party in getting the smart metres. And when they were put in, no one could opt out. Thankfully, my power pole is well away from the house, so if the damned thing catches fire, my house will be okay. I tried to explain the dangers of them to the gal at the electric company office-when I went to pay the bill. It was like trying to explain calculus to a kindergartener. She gushed about how great it was to monitor people’s usage in live-time (yikes, WTF!). She did not understand how wildly inaccurate the metres are, and so who care if the customer is getting gouged because of it? The fact that our electric company enjoyed a $3 million dollar windfall profit last year, and kept the money for themselves should show you something. And…let’s add another wrinkle to the equation: How much more will it cost people to charge an EV, especially up here at -40 below in the dead of Winter (or colder)? I can see that really screwing with said smart metre. That, and AFTER forking over the extra money to wire your house to actually charge said EV. It is none of their business when I am home or not, but the smart metres can tell just that…which is creepy as hell, but not too surprising, as this has been coming for years.

  12. I mine being mined. I want a car, not a mobile infotainment system. I don’t need (or desire) the extra gadgets. I don’t require Google to tell me where to go or track where I have been, I have no interest in Siri or Alexa listening to me, I didn’t ask for Sirius radio or OnStar, Bluetooth, or the other hundreds of apps that I have zero use for.

    I want a reliable engine, working brakes, and four solid tires. A good FM radio and AC would be welcomed. Hell, I will even roll down/up my own windows.

    Let’s be honest, most of us aren’t that interesting for our data to be useful to these nosy biddy bodies. Do they need to know we drive to work Monday through Friday? Go to the Farmers Market and Tractor Supply on Saturday? Does our car sit in its parking space and record how many times we walk by it to get another pint of Haagen Dazs from the garage freezer? Is our preference of mint chocolate chip over coffee chip really that riveting to auto manufacturers?

    • Ditto, RG –

      Much as I enjoy driving some of the new cars I get to test drive, all of them have this creepy, intrusive “tech” that I want no part of. My chief beef is that it’s not optional. That you cannot opt out of it. They have made it standard. And why would they do that? Are they in the business of giving things away? Of course not. When something is “free” rest assured there’s a cost.

    • Maslow’s Hierarchy Of (automotive) Needs, high to low:

      Status affirmation
      Badge Tribalism

      Clearly Raider Girl’s needs from a car are still farily low.

      • I like RG’s simple needs in a vehicle. I like simple, as well. It is why it killed me to have to buy a new car, because I knew what I was in for. The problem with having all the high tech gadgetry in vehicles, is that sooner or later, said gadgets will go out, and need to be replaced. That costs money. A lot of money. And if places like Taiwan are where we get a lot of our computer chips, um, how are we going to purloin them if China takes them over? Talk about up sh– creek. When the factory stereo, six-CD, satellite radio capable stereo went out in my old WRX, it was going to cost me a good, $800 bucks to replace! Instead, I got a nice sounding CD (one CD player) with radio for a fraction of the cost. And it sounds very nice! There is that old, KISS acronym, which stands for many things. The most famous, of course, is Keep It Simple, Stupid. Sadly, car manufactures listen less to us consumers, and are damned determined to listen to the Feds instead, and would rather make vehicles way more complicated and computerized than they really need to be. I find the tech to be creepy, as well. I do get a good laugh, however, in that out in BFE, the speed limit signs often do not pick up anything until I get closer to town….so even Big Brother has its quirks. Oh, that, and when the back-up camera gets covered or blurred with ice and/or snow, and the nanny has a fit. That one, too, is always good for a laugh.

  13. It’s become quite apparent there is nothing they WON’T do. It’s already in your home if you have one of the voice controlled systems there. Alexa and its ilk have to listen all the time, else it could not hear your commands. Rumor has it that everything Alexa hears is recorded into Amazon’s cloud. I would be surprised if the same is not true of the Google systems as well.

    • Not only Alexa and Google, but even people who own Roomba. Because, turning on the Hoover and zipping it up and down the carpet takes too much time away from their I-Phone. Nothing like walking around your home to avoid your appliances recording you.

      The problem is most people want this technology. Why change the station on the radio or pick up the TV remote when you can yell at Alexa to do it for you? Tell the refrigerator that you need milk and toothpaste when a pad of paper and pencil to create the grocery list will do. It just adds to our laziness and waist lines.

      • Hi RG,
        The problem for me personally is that automation is so darned interesting. I never would have started my own business if it hadn’t been for CNC machine tools. It was fun to tweak a program to eliminate wasted motion and make it “sing.” I will spend hours writing a spreadsheet or a macro, or setting up the lights in the living room to turn on automatically at sunset, not because I’m too lazy to do these tasks the old way but because I enjoy the challenge of getting it to work exactly the way I want it to. Some of us are like that, but it presents a conundrum when the technology we have fun fiddling with can be used by others – especially the stinking government – to spy on us.

        • Hi Roland,

          There is nothing wrong with experimenting or someone coming up with a better mouse trap. Innovativeness and creativity is how America revolutionized the world.

          I don’t like the spyware and collection of data behind it. Why do our TVs need to have cameras, vacuums connected to WiFi, Google (and cell phones) track our every move, grocery stores require club cards to collect what each family buys?

          I am not against technology. I am against it invading my personal sanctuary.

      • Roomba also builds a very accurate 3D model of the interior space of the home where it is allowed to roam and this information is periodically sent back to its corporate masters, ostensibly to “improve” the product.

        • Hi Roscoe,

          I remember reading it was filming the home’s occupants and sending it back to HQ. Scary stuff. I have a feeling that goes on a lot more than any of us even know.

      • I have a Roomba, it drives around the house periodically. I have a housekeeper too, and a lawn service. Allows me to work, and focus on fun things on the weekend, like exercising and family time. If iRobot is interested in the level of dirt on my kitchen floor, that’s their problem. 😉

        • Well, BAC, I would just make sure it isn’t running when you are in the bathroom, showering, or copulating with Mrs. BAC. 😉

          Rumor has it some of the pics sent back to HQ were quite “graphic.”

          • >I would just make sure it isn’t running when you are in the bathroom
            Nah, that will be the function of the all new electrified “digital” toilet, which will analyze your “output” in real time, and transmit the results to your “health care provider,” to “help keep you healthy,” of course.
            [rolling eyes skyward]

        • There is nothing like being bought by a conglomerate with added on web services. Nothing sinister there. 🙁

          I think I will stick with the Bissell canister vacuum. If there is a camera in it I guarantee it has been destroyed after falling down the stairs three or four times.

  14. The former East German Stasi and the Soviet GRU would’ve killed to have this technology installed in every Trabant the masses drove (some of them anyway). You have to ask yourself is America the land of the free anymore? I’m starting to feel like the proverbial frog in the pot and the water is beginning to boil!

  15. Years ago when I was looking at an Impala my mechanic assured me that he could mechanically disable Onstar but still allow it to be reactivated when I went to sell it. Hopefully he will still be able to do this on a newer vehicle. His advice was that if it was a concern to me I should avoid anything much newer than a 2008.

  16. It used to be considered creepy, if not criminal, to want to know someone’s every movement and desire. Now it’s “best practices” for GovCo and its corporate “partners”.

    Ray Stevens’ song could not be made today, people might realize it’s not Willard McBain that needed to be feared for snooping into every aspect of our lives.


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