How do you feel about the government being able to slow or stop your car by remote?

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I can’t find a clip of it, but I seem to remember an episode from that old TV series The Sopranos, where Tony Soprano, the mafia boss, rips out the GPS in a new SUV he gets. This was years ago when those things were not common; they were a luxurious option in high-end vehicles. Tony was physically ripping it out of his car, partly because he was paranoid, but partly because he had reason to be paranoid — the FBI were surveilling him all the time, tracking him. It’s why he used phone booths and had in-person meetings. He correctly knew that we were moving towards a surveillance state, where your location is known at all times.

It would be interesting to see how Tony Soprano would cope with the invasive technology of 2022. I mean, GPS tracking your movements, of course. But the level of total, perpetual surveillance is here — and it’s Google and Amazon and Apple and Facebook and yeah, the FBI comes along for the ride.

I mean, seriously, look at this, from Brendan Carr, an FCC commissioner in the U.S. — that’s the people in charge of telecommunications.

Today, a TikTok exec said it was “simply false” for me to say that they collect faceprints, browsing history, & keystroke patterns.

Except, I was quoting directly from TikTok’s own disclosures

TikTok’s concerning pattern of misrepresentations about U.S. user data continues.

I’m not sure if you can see what he’s showing in those images, but its disclosure from TikTok that they don’t just track everything you record, and everything you watch. They actually take your faceprint, your voiceprint, even your keystroke patterns and rhythms. This is what they admit to doing. They listen to you, they watch your face.

I don’t think Tony Soprano would go for that, do you?

And that doesn’t even touch on admissions that Chinese staff of TikTok positively spy on users.

Tony had reasons to be afraid — he was a criminal mastermind. But you don’t have to be a criminal to worry about your privacy. Some things aren’t criminal, or even unethical — they’re just private and personal, not meant to be shared with the world, or with companies who would want to know things about you to sell to you; or worse, politicians and governments who know things about you to punish you or censor you or control you.

That’s my fear. It’s why I hate the apps we’re being literally forced to use during the pandemic.

There’s an app that Trudeau requires you to use to fly back into Canada if you leave — so I’ve never used this, because I haven’t been allowed to go to the U.S. in two years, but everyone who does, legally must use the ArriveCan app — or face a fine of up to $5,000.

The app is quite useless. Yeah, people hate it. But it’s not that it’s actually useful to the government. It’s that it gets you conditioned and trained — on pain of a huge fine — to be surveilled and scanned. Here’s the WEF’s Yuval Noah Harari on that.

The apps tracking you. It’s why I fear not regular cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin. But the proposed central bank digital currencies, made by governments.

Because the government will then be able to track your money in real time; who you spend it on, and they could technically turn it off. Turn off your money. Forget about seizing bank accounts. They’d just make your money disappear. That’s their version of crypto.

But what about self-driving cars? They terrify me, I won’t lie. But they’re becoming more and more popular.

But if a central computer system can control your car — can steer it, can slow down or speed up or slam on the brakes — well, if they can do that for traffic reasons, why can’t they do that for any reason? For political reasons? For stopping you from driving somewhere they don’t like?

Sure, if you’re a car thief, good idea. But what about if you’re doing somewhere they don’t want you to go. Just to make up an example, how about a Trump rally? What if your high tech car won’t drive you to a Trump rally?

Or won’t let you go to a bar? Or won’t let you go anywhere during a lockdown? What a terrible future that could be. Except it’s here. Look at this

This is from the European Transport Safety Council. It’s funded by the European Union. It’s their policy advisory group. And look at their news today!

So it’s July 5 today, and their headline is about tomorrow: Vehicle safety in Europe takes a giant leap forward.

Wow, I’m excited about vehicle safety. But I’m not sure if that’s the main thing they’re doing.

New models of car, van, lorry and bus launched on to the EU/EEA market from tomorrow (6 July) must be fitted as standard with an array of new vehicle safety technologies.  The European Transport Safety Council welcomes this milestone but says standards for two of the new technologies are too weak and need to be urgently reviewed.

Oh really? What do you mean?

In particular, ETSC says that the minimum standards for Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) could lead to manufacturers building cars with an ISA system that has limited safety benefits and annoys drivers.  That is because the minimum legal specification allows for a warning-only system that features an annoying audible beep, potentially combined with inaccurate speed information due to systems that use only a camera-based sign recognition system with no backup in the form of a digital map of speed limit locations.

So, you know when in many cars you don’t put on your seatbelt, it makes an annoying beeping sound until you do? That’s nagging, that’s nudging, but at the end of the day you could ignore it. Well, they’re deploying that to how you drive now. Including how fast you go.

I love how they call that “speed assistance”. I’ll read from another one of their articles.

Can you see the image there? Here’s a bigger version:

The car tracks your speed. It “helps you” not speed when you’ve reached the speed limit. And it claims you can override that if you like. And that’s what the EU is complaining about — they don’t want you to be able to override your car.

Here’s what the EU’s car police say:

ISA, as it was originally envisaged, is a fantastic life-saving system.  Using sign-reading cameras and digital maps of speed limit data, the car can cut engine torque automatically to keep the vehicle within the current speed limit.  Speed is such an important factor in road deaths that this technology alone, if it were fitted to all cars on the road in this form, could cut deaths by 20 percent.

Here’s a video from Ford — seven years ago:

Automatic self-driving cars were non-existent back then. Now they’re being mainstreamed. It won’t really be voluntary soon, will it?

Why would you ever want to speed? I can think of some reasons. An emergency — to get the hospital. Or, because other cars are driving at a certain speed, and to go too slow would be dangerous. To speed up, just for a moment, to avoid a hazard on the road.

Countless reasons. But imagine that being controlled by someone else. But I’m not just worried about practical driving matters.

I’m worried about the politics.

Do you think the Chinese government is collecting voice prints and faceprint of millions of users just for commercial reasons? Of course it’s for commercial reasons. But it’s for spying reasons too. It’s for blackmail reasons, even.

Do you think a government that would seize your bank accounts if you dared to go to a peaceful trucker convoy, that invoked a form of martial law because a few trucks were honking their horns, do you doubt they’d “turn off” the cars and trucks of everyone in the convoy — including the thousands who drove across and around Canada?

They put Tamara Lich in prison for taking a selfie with a trucker — do you doubt they’d turn off her vehicle?

Yeah, I’m with Tony Soprano on this one. He was a criminal, that’s for sure. But I’m more scared of Trudeau than I am of any mafia man.

GUEST: Sheila Gunn Reid joins to talk about covering Tamara Lich's bail hearing today (@SheilaGunnReid on Twitter).

FINALLY: Your messages to me!

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  • By David Menzies

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