These people are entirely mad you know

The European Union is secretly developing a “remote stopping” device to be fitted to all cars that would allow the police to disable vehicles at the flick of a switch from a control room.

Confidential documents from a committee of senior EU police officers, who hold their meetings in secret, have set out a plan entitled “remote stopping vehicles” as part of wider law enforcement surveillance and tracking measures.

“The project will work on a technological solution that can be a ‘build in standard’ for all cars that enter the European market,” said a restricted document.

The devices, which could be in all new cars by the end of the decade, would be activated by a police officer working from a computer screen in a central headquarters.

Once enabled the engine of a car used by a fugitive or other suspect would stop, the supply of fuel would be cut and the ignition switched off.

Eh?

I agree that I’m not the world’s greatest car enthusiast but what? As far as I can recollect turning off the ignition also locks the steering on a car. And they want to do that to a car doing 120 mph through a suburban street as it attempts to escape from the cops?

What?

Perhaps we should send the people who thought this up out onto the motorway and then we’ll cut their engines?

To say nothing of the civil liberties implications here. No, they’re mad. Hang them all.

32 comments on “These people are entirely mad you know

  1. Inevitably they will not even begin to understand what the objections are. Liberal society is truly dead. If you give modern governments the tools to oppress, they can’t help themselves. They have to bully and regiment.

    I don’t think the technical objection is much good. I am sure that they will produce a system that slows the cars gradually.

  2. Please Tim! You’re talking about a mechanical key lock happens to have an electrical switch on the back of it.
    The amusing thing is, the day after the systems introduced, the only cars on the road the police won’t be able to stop will be criminals’. And criminals will be able to stop all other cars.

  3. Incidentally, this facility would be integral in any ‘smart’ traffic management system. The driverless car thing that’s being road tested now. But it’s always been a problem. What do you do about those that hack the system? The car that’s under the control of the occupant not the management system. Or not under any control because the system’s glitched out.

  4. Also, hours of fun for hackers. It’ll have to be wireless, so anyone can make a “blue box” and stop all the traffic on the M25 while videoing it for the lulz on YouTube.

    Only a selfish rightwingextremistneoliberal would oppose this sensible measure which is so obviously for the good of all.

  5. Where do you find a film producer when you need one?
    I’ve just re-storyboarded the big car chase scene. The traffic management system will obviously prioritise emergency vehicles like police. Crooks will hack it.
    So we ditch Steve McQueen in favour of a spotty 14 y/o sitting in the back with a keyboard & screen overclocking the central processing unit.

  6. bloke in spain – “So we ditch Steve McQueen in favour of a spotty 14 y/o sitting in the back with a keyboard & screen overclocking the central processing unit.”

    Wasn’t that basically the plot to the Italian Job? Except without a spotty 14 year old but with Benny Hill.

  7. More ideas for the Politic Bureau in Brussels:
    1. The car won’t start if you light up a cigarette with children in the car.
    2. The car won’t start if you are over the limit.
    3. The car won’t start if you taxes are not paid.
    4. The car won’t start if it detects that you are having anti-EU thoughts, and loop through the EU anthem.

    The possibilities for total control is endless.

  8. “the day after the systems introduced, the only cars on the road the police won’t be able to stop will be criminals’. And criminals will be able to stop all other cars.”

    I am happy to assure the public that there is no danger whatsoever of this scenario playing out going forward. EU anti-hacking technology will be applied with the utmost rigour.

  9. Ah lovely. And how do they identify the vehicle they want to stop?

    [insert your own reference to ANY cops ‘n’ robbers plot, as at some point they all involve swapping the licence plates]

    @bis:
    Bonus Scene: “You in the back! Yes you, spotty – quick, change the LCD display to the “PLOD 123″ plate up ahead”.

    Or better, if you have previously hacked their servers, just flag a Null Detain against the vehicle.

    @nsa, @gchq: the above are fictitious examples. The key’s under the flowerpot; please don’t knock the door.

  10. Quod vide BIS above, criminals will get around it because the penalty for disabling the mechanism will be a sunk cost of doing whatever crime they are planning. As with gun ownership, the only people who lose out will be the law-abiding.

    But they would, at a stroke, create a whole new profitable criminal profession of car-disable-mechanism hacker.

    If one really were a conspiracy theorist, one would have to conclude that governments are in league with organised crime, since nearly all of what they do is pass laws that create more ways for criminals to make money.

  11. You’ve gone all Daily Mail. This is just the dumb-america fallacy all over again.

    “As far as I can recollect turning off the ignition also locks the steering on a car.”

    Yeah, so anything you “vaguely” recall is going to be well known to these people. You’re being really really unthinking an whipping up indignation over nothing.

    By all means rant about the civil liberties aspects – that, I agree, is a genuine problem – or the villains-will-disable-this aspect, but the mechanical difficulty problem you raise is just dumb on your part.

  12. William Connelly: easy to pooh-pooh Tim’s technical objections. So we can stipulate it won’t lock the steering or do a crash stop by jamming on the brakes. The car will coast gently to a stop until Officer Dibble knocks on the window. Splendid! Unless it coasts to a stop in the middle lane of the M6 during rush hour and gets rear-ended by a 40 ton truck.

  13. “Confidential documents from a committee of senior EU police officers, who hold their meetings in secret…”

    Evidently not.

  14. It’s not just the EU; the US has companies working on the same kinds of devices. Police really like this sort of macho militarism, and the sellers are more concerned with trying to get something that will stop some cars than with the consequences of missing, or for that matter hitting.

  15. It will only affect the bumptious jackasses who absolutely insist on a new car. There are still lots of Morris Minors on the road and a few years ago I read a claim that two-thirds of all the Rolls-Royces ever built were still in use. Also how many criminals tell the police which car they intend to use?
    William Connelley is partly correct – the steering wheel lock only applies to recent models, not to Morris Minors or pre-War Rolls (or even inter-War Rolls)

  16. john77 – “It will only affect the bumptious jackasses who absolutely insist on a new car. There are still lots of Morris Minors on the road and a few years ago I read a claim that two-thirds of all the Rolls-Royces ever built were still in use.”

    But not many cars are Rolls-Royces. I used to drive a car made in the 70s and it showed. All this does is delay the inevitable. At some point everyone will have to buy a newer model.

    “Also how many criminals tell the police which car they intend to use?”

    I foresee a black market in fake licence plate numbers. Come as a bit of a shock when the police are in high speed pursuit of some bad ‘uns around the Birmingham beltway and they trigger the device – only for some mild mannered financial planner to find his Mondeo has come to an unexpected halt in Slough.

  17. Plans like this one wouldn’t be so bad if I had any faith that our representatives would reject them.

    GM’s Onstar system can already remotely disable vehicles. A few other manufacturers have similar systems too.

    There would be no need to stop the engine dead, just put it into limp home mode. You could certainly trigger a system that would immobilise the vehicle next time it was switched off which has the most promise imo. You could even have it disable the car next time it came to a halt. That said the potential for harm remains. If the fugitives try to overtake something just as the system reduces power it could cause an accident. If they momentarily halt while crossing traffic and the car doesn’t restart it could cause an accident.

    The situations where high speed chases run the highest risk of accident are also the situations where you would least want to activate it – built up areas and where there is two way traffic. The safest places to use the system would then be on dual carriageways and motorways – the safest roads in the country – so there is only minor benefit from that perspective.

    Due to the limitations of a remote shutdown system I think the high speed chase factor is a distraction. They want it to be able to track people both pro-actively and after the fact.

    What they are doing is finding uses for the Galileo satellite system. Another use they have considered is to reward us for driving below the speed limit. The system was designed as a tool for enforcing transport policy (such as road pricing) as well as the usual civilian and military applications. It is also aimed at providing information for accident investigators and insurers.

  18. Surely all this will mean for the next 20 years at least, criminals will just drive older cars?
    Leaving aside “special” cars like my Morris minor (mechanical controls all round, very powerful modern engine giving performance that police car drivers can only dream of, built with an intended working life of >25 years from now), any bog standard Mondeo or similar being sold now doesn’t have this feature, and any serious criminal will know that. Thus these devices will for the medium to long term only be good for the harassment of innocent motorists, or those suspected of minor motoring offenses… Oh, funny that, guess who PC plod is most interested in these days anyway…?

  19. Looks like I will be keeping my 25 yo porsche around for a few more years. Top speed 285kph, not electronic nannies, loads of carbons out the exhaust pipe, and big fireball when I hit a tree coming off the nurburgring!

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