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Toll roads: 'Surveillance state' purveyors and enforcers

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Conversations taking place in our cars can also be monitored. Back in 2003, a federal appeals court warned the FBI to not use OnStar, a "navigation and safety service," to eavesdrop on drivers. More recently, OnStar developed a Smartphone app to "control your car from anywhere." Among other things, the app can start the engine, honk the horn and monitor fuel and oil usage.

Finally, newer cars are equipped with "black boxes" or event data recorders (EDRs).

"An event data recorder is on board, tracking your seat belt use, speed, steering, braking and at least a dozen other bits of data," USA Today reported. "When your air bag deploys, the EDR's memory records a few seconds before, during and after a crash, much like an airliner's 'black box.' "

Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told CNS News that EDRs can provide safety information to make vehicles and roadways safer. He maintained that the devices cannot capture any personal information aside from what happens in a vehicle seconds before and after an accident. They cannot record conversations, gather identifying information or
run all the time, he maintained.

Horace Cooper of the National Center for Public Policy Analysis begged to differ. He told, that EDRs have the ability to gather much more than accident information.

"EDRs not only provide details necessary for accident investigation, they can also track travel records, passenger usage, cell phone use and other private data -- who you visit, what you weigh, how often you call your mother and more is captured by these devices," Cooper said.

All of this information can be interpreted and used to create a narrative of our life, without us ever knowing. We need to consider whether total strangers should be trusted to paint a fair or accurate picture of our lives. When all of this is done behind our backs, we have no way of defending ourselves. Once a false rumor is started, deliberate or not, the damage is already done. People are discredited, resumes are thrown in trash cans and doors that seemed open are suddenly and mysteriously shut.

Cameras, black boxes, tolls and tickets will never create accident-free roads, nor will they make drivers more courteous and concerned about safety. What we'll end up with is a nanny state as our co-pilot, with lots of government agencies and advertisers going along for the ride.

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Teri Webster is a freelance researcher/investigative journalist who also served as a long-time newspaper staff writer in New York, Nevada, California and Texas. She began her reporting career by covering the New York State Police and other (more...)

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Toll roads: 'Surveillance state' purveyors and enforcers

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