Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Big Brother on the Road

OnStar, a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Motors, Inc., is billed as an innovative vehicle safety and security system.  It consists of an onboard computer GPS system networked into the car’s systems and equipped with the ability to transmit and receive data.  It can automatically call for help when you have an accident.  It can even make hotel reservations and check your email for you.  If your car is stolen, the system allows the police to pinpoint the location of your car and engage an ignition block preventing the car from starting until they get to the scene.

Interesting.  And this is supposed to make me feel safe.

The OnStar system is (theoretically) capable of providing a permanent record of all the places you have driven your car, the routes you took along with the specific dates and times, should anyone be interested in that information.  But I’m sure no one would ever be interested in that information.  I’m sure that as long as you don’t do or say anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. 

But wait.  Suppose your car isn’t stolen.  Suppose, just for the sake of argument, that you are an activist protesting the corporate status quo, and that someone in a position of power has taken issue with your protestations to the point that they want to have you silenced.  You sense that it is time for you to lay low for awhile, so you get in your car to drive to your sister’s place to hide out for a few weeks.  But for some reason, your car won’t start…

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