Is Technology Making Newer Cars Worse?

by Ian Mosley

One of those sinister tech advances everybody’s been talking about for years is now coming to pass in the U. K.

A Daily Mail article reports “Car finance firms are fitting ‘kill switches’ that immobilise vehicles if drivers miss a payment, the Daily Mail can reveal.”

“The devices – installed by lenders offering loans to those with poor credit scores – mean customers can be left stranded. But law and finance experts say the firms may be breaking the law.”

Just about everything seems to be breaking the law these days in the United Kingdom. One of these days I’ll write a column on ASBOs.

The article continues “Drivers on kill-switch deals typically set up standing orders to pay every month. When the lender is paid, it sends the customer a code to enter by remote control into a GPS device behind the dashboard. If drivers miss a payment, the code for that month is not sent and the car stops working. Concerns have been raised that vulnerable drivers could be stranded overnight or unable to get to an emergency.”

“Office worker Julia Martin said she often had to eat cereal for dinner so she can afford car payments. The 32-year-old took out a three-year hire-purchase agreement with The Car Finance Company in January last year when her fiance left her six weeks before their wedding, taking the car they shared.”

“Miss Martin, of Farnham, Surrey, must pay £199 a month for a ten-year-old Ford C-Max worth £4,000. She will have paid £7,200 by the end of the term. She said: ‘I have had to take a second job and still find myself struggling each month.’”

In the U.K., overcrowded as it is with massive hordes of Third World immigrants, I don’t even want to know what this poor women pays in rent.

The article goes on “Earlier this month, the Mail revealed young drivers were being tempted into dangerous levels of debt by offers of new cars for no money up front. The Car Finance Company offers rates of 49.6 per cent for customers who want a zero-deposit loan. Investors wrote off £50million in the firm as so many customers were falling into arrears.”

“Kill switches are small, black GPS boxes installed behind a car’s dashboard. The ignition is rewired through the box so, if a customer fails to pay, it can break the circuit and prevent the car starting. When a payment is made customers are sent a code to enter by remote control. The box will beep if payments are due, with a ‘siren’ giving a 24-hour warning the car will be immobilised.”

What this is headed for, of course, is an arrangement where the police can stop or immobilize any motor vehicle with the click of a mouse or a tap on a function key, right from their headquarters. Those plans are already in the works, in this country as well as in Britain.

In fact, people with OnStar can have their vehicle disabled by police and the doors locked or unlocked. A 2012 news story from the Blaze reports “Two police departments, a helicopter and dozens of cruisers were hot on the trail of a stolen Chevy Camaro speeding through Illinois. But it wasn’t their efforts that ultimately stopped the renegade vehicle. It was OnStar.”

“The General Motors’ subscription-based service, which is often used to alert first responders to accidents or even let family members see where the car is driving, has the ability to shut down OnStar-enabled vehicles. This is just what was done to Brandon Holme’s car that was stolen from a West Dundee gas station and taken on a 40-mile, high-speed chase, according to Chicago’s CBS Local.”

While this technology sounds good when it’s being used against car thieves, what if an enterprising carjacker figures out a way to shut down your vehicle and unlock the doors?

Also, do you want the government tracking your every move especially if the government views you as a political dissident. Certain late model cars are so tied into computers and the Internet that some people say they can be hacked. A Huffington Post article asks the question “DID the CIA assassinate journalist Michael Hastings?”

“WikiLeaks’ release on Tuesday of a massive trove of secret CIA documents has reignited conspiracy theories which have swirled since 2013, with revelations the spy agency was attempting to remotely hack vehicles.”

“’As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks,’ WikiLeaks writes. ‘The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations.’”

“Hastings, an acclaimed war correspondent and vocal critic of government mass surveillance, died in the early hours of Tuesday, June 18, 2013, when his Mercedes C250 Coupe apparently lost control and burst into flames before slamming into a palm tree.”

So a newer car isn’t necessarily better. You may want to keep your older technology car running just so you don’t have to worry about some outside individual hitting a kill switch or even hijacking your car and driving it into a tree.


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