George Orwell said it would happen in 1984, but better late than never. The European Commission decided that from 2013 on, every new car sold in the EU must have a system called eCall. What is eCall? Think of it as a government-mandated OnStar. If your car crashes, eCall will automatically send an S.O.S. to emergency centers. It will send your GPS-derived coordinates, the number of people on board, impact sensor data, airbag deployment and other data which probably only the EU and the carmakers know.
eCall is for the common good, of course. Supposedly, it will cut the number of people who die on Europe’s roads in half, just like that. Automobilwoche [sub] reports that the number of seriously injured will be reduced by 15 percent. (With a black box in the car? That squawks after you got hit or did hit something? Interesting) The system will save €26b, prognosticates a study.
Unsaid, but inevitable: It will make some people rich. Most likely the electronics manufacturer NXP, who offers a module the size of a coin that can easily be integrated into on-board systems.
Of course it’s not just there to summon help. Systems like these are a juicy invitation for other uses. Wikipedia prognosticates that “once in active deployment, other telematic services are expected to explode such as route advisories and traffic information.”
A government mandated system can also tell the mandating governments where their citizens are. It opens the way to be-taxed-as-you go on a European level. Speeding tickets? No problem. Nothing is more precise that GPS when it comes to speed. With a permanent on-line connection, the ticket can be deducted from your bank account before you even have arrived.
They will emphatically deny that any of that kind is planned. Just wait.