Yes, Your Car is Spying on You and Selling Your Data (but it’s Big Business doing it, so it’s OK)

by Scott Creighton

Remember when proposals like having “black boxes” in your car reporting on your every move was a bad thing? Remember when everyone raged about not wanting the “ebil gubmint” tracking their every mile and pedal push? Remember when that was an invasion of your privacy? Anybody? Remember?

“Everyone makes mistakes, and many people try to cover them up. But if you try to hide an error made behind the wheel of a car made by Tesla Motors, you are liable to be caught out. In fact, trying to hide what really happened in any kind of car accident could soon become just about impossible.

That’s the lesson of an incident over the weekend in which the owner of a Tesla Model X SUV crashed into a building and claimed it had suddenly accelerated on its own. But Tesla vehicles are constantly connected to their manufacturer via the Internet, and the company had this to say in a statement to the Verge:

“Data shows that the vehicle was traveling at 6 mph when the accelerator pedal was abruptly increased to 100 percent … Consistent with the driver’s actions, the vehicle applied torque and accelerated as instructed.”

This kind of data-backed corrective is set to get more common. Most automakers don’t log data from their vehicles in the same way Tesla does, but the industry appears to be headed that way.

The majority of cars sold in the U.S. now have event data recorders—sometimes described as black boxes—that log data to be examined in the event of an accident.

Most of those devices don’t record as much detail as Tesla does, or send it out over the Internet. But Internet connectivity in cars is becoming more common, and carmakers are keen to make use of whatever data they can get from our vehicles.

Only about a quarter of new cars have the necessary technology today, but that’s expected to reach over 90 percent by 2020. Companies such as GM are open about their interest in expanding the range of data they collect on driver actions to open up new business opportunities.MIT Technology Review

“Ebil gubmint” was wrong to try to follow us around, spying on and recording every mile we drove, every turn we took, every pit stop, every midday liaison, every word we uttered in the privacy of our own vehicles. Wrooong! 

But gosh darn it, Big Business can do it and it’s just fine. Just fiiiine.

In this case we have Tesla Motors perhaps avoiding a costly lawsuit and all they had to do to achieve that all important brand protecting, bottom-line saving corporate goal is to report (or write?) a few little words from their secretive “black box” (it’s called proprietary software and it’s protected so no one steals Big Business’ trade secrets (kinda like Black Box voting, don’t cha know)) and presto, the lawsuit goes away.

Because… technology.

There’s no possible conflict of interest there, right? Nah. Big Business wouldn’t do that, would they?

One big motivation for car companies is to get into the insurance business. Some insurance companies already offer discounts if you install a device in your car with sensors that monitor your driving habits, and GM has partnerships with several that tap into its OnStar system. But insurance companies could have much to gain by getting more detailed data as Tesla does, so they can see not only the car’s motion but every action of the driver.” MIT Technology Review

I heard a commercial yesterday boasting about some car’s 5 or 6 video cameras on-board and it’s constant Wifi broadcast.

Oh the idiot actors pretending to be real folks were so impressed with the possibility that their new car had it’s own Wifi broadcast and all those cameras. So impressed they were. It’s so hip. So now. So today.

One camera appeared to be in the back and one in the front recording where you’ve been and where you are going at all times (and of course the license plates of everyone around you). The other 4 or so I suppose were in the cabin of the vehicle, recording you and your passengers and broadcasting that data all day every day to whomever is watching at company headquarters.

Let’s to a little test you and I. Which of these do you find comforting and which do you find intrusive?


It’s a trick question, because they are actually the same picture.

Carmakers will also find themselves frequently being asked to help law enforcement with investigations (local cops, Feds, TSA, Homeland Security… NSA????) .” MIT Technology Review

We live in the age of the internet of everything being combined with the ideology of the commodification of everything. Everything you do, everything you say, everything you write. Every move you make, every song you listen to. Every talk radio station you yell at. Every driver you flip off. Every female pedestrian who catches your eye. Everything has a value to someone, somewhere, sitting there in GM’s shinny new Customer Monitoring Command Center.

And if you think you are better off with that slimy bastard jerking off to a live feed of your daughter in the back seat cus he’s wearing a GM logo on his coveralls as opposed to a TSA logo, well that’s your prerogative I suppose.

Big Business is certainly not going to suggest otherwise to you.

But don’t think for a minute that Big Brother wont be in there watching right along with their brothers in arms in Big Business. They’re one and the same now and they’re everywhere, always. And you let it happen on your watch. That’s your legacy. And mine.

Yes, your car is spying on you. But it’s OK because it’s not the “ebil gubmint” doing it, it’s Big Business. And who doesn’t trust Big Business?

Say “thank you” Glenn Greenwald. Say “thank you” “Edward Snowden”. Say thank you for CISA and the USA Freedom Act which freed up Big Business to privatize the national security state and turn everything about you into a commodity for resale, research or re-branding purposes.

It’s a brave new world folks. And they’re just getting started.

So make sure you say only nice things about the system as it is while riding around in your shinny new broadcasting car, with your Progressive Insurance Snapshot tracking system plugged in,  with Facebook listening in via your cell phone sitting next to you, with that FitBit on your arm telling you what to do all day to make you more cost effective for your insurance company and that Bluetooth microphone on your ear like a douche bag.

Make sure you don’t ruffle any feathers or raise any red-flags with that guy jacking off at the GM command center. Make sure no one thinks you don’t have your mind right cus they’re watching and recording and categorizing and analyzing, all day, every day, every thing. Your highs, your lows, your mundane thoughts, your brilliant ideas, your petty disputes. The songs you sing along with, the fights with your spouse.It’s all broadcast, recorded, analyzed, categorized, commodified, and monetized.

It’s all there for them to take. To just pluck out of the air as your new status symbol rolls down the road broadcasting every personal aspect of your lives to the internet of everything. Because it all belongs to them. Now it does. It’s all theirs and there’s nothing you can do about it because you were afeared of “ebil gubmint” reading your emails and now you got that AND something a thousand times worse.

When your crappy new car leaps forward into traffic because of deregulation and your kid gets killed and GM shows their magic file from their magic box and you end up with nothing more than a much larger MANDATED insurance payment to make… to GM… on top of having to continue to pay for the wrecked car that killed your child and nobody will cover your story or even listen to it because they don’t wish to appear as not having their mind right, don’t say you weren’t warned. Because you were.

When some rich football player who is needed by his billionaire team owner next season is driving home at 5am after a night of partying and coke sniffing doing 70mph in a 35 zone and blows a red-light and hits you while you’re walking to the bus stop to go to work and your Fitbit lies and says you darted out in front of him for no apparent reason and GM’s black box says the wasted NFL player was only doing 25mph cus he also carries GM insurance and GM owns 16% of his team, don’t say you weren’t warned when you don’t even get your massive hospital bills paid while he scoots off with his new car, the one you probably have to pay for. Don’t say you weren’t warned because that’s how it’s going to work and you were.

And when you see your idea in a commercial from a company owned by some Progressive Insurance board member’s wife, you know, the one you were saving up to get that prototype made for, don’t get mad and toss out your Snapshot. They want more good ideas from you and tossing that thing out in a rage means you don’t have your mind right.

Is this infinitely more insidious than 12 guys at the NSA being able to file a court order to tap your phone lines or access your emails if they can show a judge something that looks kinda like evidence? I would say yes, but I don’t got my mind right.

Yeah, your car is spying on you but it’s OK because it’s Big Business doing it and not “ebil gubmint” so you got that going for you.

Now have a nice day and make sure to say only nice things about fascism and the system today. You never know who’s listening.

Well, actually, now you do.

6 Responses

  1. Great rant. Pandora’s box has been opened. With the lack of response from Snowden’s stage show it appears it’s no holds bar. Micro$oft’s Windows 10 upgrade ‘behavior’ is an excellent example of the new mentality. People are too addicted to their technology to care if they are being spied upon. SMART device = SPY device.

    Even for the average AE reader, what would shock us all is not that we are being constantly surveilled (spied upon without consent), but the massive number of unique entities that are spying upon us;

    Governments (local, state, national, international); license plate scanners, traffic light cameras, gunfire locator (microphones), cell phone interceptors (Stingray)
    Plus agencies like the; NSA, ONI, Mossad, Mi6…

    Internet Service Providers (email, web site history),
    Cell Phone Service (voice, text, internet, GPS location),
    Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn)
    Search Engines (search history, see: Google)
    Car Companies (GM OnStar, Ford SYNC, VW Car-Net, Toyota Safety-Connect)
    Online Retailers (purchase history, see; Amazon) – What you Buy
    Banks (debit/credit card purchase history) – Where you Buy

    Public Utilities – Smart Meters (Electricity and Water)

    Foundations (Ford, Gates, Rockefeller, etc.)
    Private Companies
    Individuals (Hackers, Spyware)

    Information is power, but the ability to use that information to control the masses (social engineering) is where the real power lies. And is why companies who provide the software and hardware to do so are valuable; Apple, Google, Facebook, etc.

    Proof that Google is manipulating search results for Clinton;

    Google is and has been doing this for a long time, and constantly, and for countless categories. Per orders or to the highest bidder.

    Imho this article is much important than Warren endorsing Clinton.

    • I agree with you on this. Total Surveillance has simply been privatized, and most people don’t even realize what is happening, because, as you say, it’s “so convenient”. So, actually, we are not living in an Orwellian world, but rather in A Brave New World, where surveillance is embraced and accepted by most who are clueless.

      • I think you are correct at this point, but, as I detailed in the article, once people understand just how pervasive this surviellence is and how it’s going to be used against them every day of their lives (and not just the tragic ones) then they will start turning from that Brave New World acceptance to something much darker like a 1984 grey-state loathing of it.

    • Thanks for the link to this very well made video, Kevin. It shows nearly 460,000 views … still too few.
      Thank you too, Scott. The game is getting rougher by the day, your insight is most important.

    • Yesterday I was watching a “news” broadcast and of course they were talking about nothing but Hillary being a saint and Trump being a racist. A republican strategist was trying to explain how her firm figured Trump still had something like 36% of the Latino vote and that was a good thing for them. When asked how her firm came to that conclusion, she had to explain it wasn’t a poll but rather a “proprietary” evaluation of communications involving something like 1.3 million people in the selection set.

      She refused to explain more on how they came to that information and the host certainly didn’t press her on it.

      I believe it was either CNN or MSNBC (probably CNN)

      What does that mean? It means they were able to purchase access to private data of 1.3 million people and eavesdrop on their conversations.

      So you can add that to your list. Political operatives, spin doctors, publicists and polling firms.

    • an outstanding video. am creating a post. will tip the hat for you. thanks

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