By on February 3, 2014

2007: "The Managing Director of Ferrari in Great Britain, Massimo Fedeli, boasted “our 60th anniversary tour is the perfect opportunity to provide this special 612 Scaglietti HGTS for the police service of England, Ireland and Wales to drive. This reinforces Ferrari’s commitment to responsible driving and promoting road safety.” (courtesy motorauthority.com)

The British Newspaper The Telegraph is reporting that, if senior European law enforcement officials have their way, all cars entering the European market may soon be fitted with a remote shutdown device that would allow police officers to electronically deactivate any vehicle at the touch of a button.

According to the article, which appeared in the paper’s January 29 edition, the program came to light after confidential documents from the European Network of Law Enforcement Technologies listing the development of a remote shutdown device as a “key objective” were obtained by an organization that monitors police powers, state surveillance and civil liberties in the EU. The report goes on to say that the secret papers justify the program by citing the need to protect the public from dangerous high speed chases and that the technology would put an end to the practice of spiking a car’s tires in order to end a chase. The documents, The Telegraph says, spell out a six year development plan.

Similar car stopping technology is already available on some vehicles in the United States via systems like On Star but, unlike what is being proposed in Europe, as of this writing remote shut-down on this side of the Atlantic is offered only to a car’s owner and can only be activated at their request. Still, once the technology is fully developed and mandated in Europe, chances are good that it will find its way to the United States and, given the way that most cars currently bundle their technology, it will probable be impossible to remove.

The application of this technology could change the way law enforcement works. More than simply putting an end to high speed chases, the system could conceivably be used in situations similar to the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings and allow the police to shut down every car in the immediate vicinity of a fleeing suspect to prevent them from seizing control of other vehicles. Paired with systems like GPS, it could also be used to stop cars from entering disaster zones or other restricted areas and, taken to its extreme, the technology could even incorporate additional features like remote door locks that could be activated in order to contain suspects inside of a disabled vehicle until law enforcement arrives to make the arrest.

This then, is more than our cars being used to track our movements or using our on-board technology to report us when we exceed the speed limit, this is our cars being actively taken out of our control and possibly even used to imprison us against our wills should some law enforcement officer watching our actions via a camera from the safety of a computer console in a secure room believe that we are a threat to public safety. Like so many other innovations, I see the real public benefit of this system if it is used correctly, but I also fear the potential for mayhem if it is misapplied. It will be interesting to watch the debate now that the development of this system has gone public.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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51 Comments on “EU Secretly Planning To Add Police-Controlled Kill Switch To All Cars By 2020...”


  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Engine dies… power assisted steering and brakes stop working.. trans locks up ..car slides out of control on a wet surface..

    Driver and other occupants die.

    Not such a Great idea and typical of the rubbish that comes out of the Hague on a regular basis.
    A read of how one becomes a member of the EU parliament makes frightening reading, as these virtually unaccountable faceless people inflict their own personal beliefs on the Europe.

    • 0 avatar
      Garak

      It could actually just turn off throttle input at first, and then shut down the engine at low speed to avoid such dramatic accidents. Perhaps even apply brakes in a controlled manner. If driverless cars are available at that time, the vehicle will most likely just turn around and take the hapless occupants to the nearest police station.

      Creepy.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The EU parliament, particularly with its war on free speech, is pretty Orwellian.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        The European Union is a limp-wristed, candy-ass version of the USSR, in that where the Soviets were totalitarians who openly wanted to conquer the world through military force, the EU is a bunch of totalitarians who want world domination through courts, police departments and regulatory agencies.

        At least you can respect guys who point ICBMs at you and tell you they’re going to bury you. But I have nothing but contempt for sissies who don’t want to get their hands dirty with military force, instead favoring an avalanche of rules, directives and court decisions as their preferred method of enslaving mankind.

        Fuck the EU.

        • 0 avatar
          Charliej

          If Europe is so bad, why are Europeans happier than people in the US? State healthcare for all? State mandated 5 week vacations each year? State mandated education that does a better job than the US? Maybe, all of the above and even more? I once believed that the US was the best place in the world to live. Then I traveled outside the US and learned the truth. Now, I live where there is real freedom. I know the NSA still is trying to spy on all US citizens, but it is a little harder for them here. OneAlpha, you ought to thank the EU for showing the US how to do it right.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          I retract the earlier statement, because I know OneAlphas version of the EU, is not anymuch more bull**it than most Europeans view of the US as a pure capitalist state, where corruption is not only legal, it IS the official political system…where each persons vote in the presidantal election is worth a lot less than the dollars of whatever coorporation is sponsoring each candidates campaign.

        • 0 avatar
          LuciferV8

          “Fuck the EU.”

          Preach it, brother!

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Well, at least the police are not known for sociopathically abusing all of the powers they have without any accountability.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    Encroaching government controls over every aspect of our lives does not happen over night. I feel as though we are like a frog in a pot over flame. By the time we realize that we are being boiled it will be too late to do anything about it.

  • avatar

    ONSTAR already has this.

    Fortunately, my 6.4-L HEMI doesn’t.
    If the government suddenly turns tyrannical, I’ll give those pathetic EGOboost TAURUS Interceptors and non-SRT Charger Pursuits a run for their money.

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      “I’ll give those pathetic EGOboost TAURUS Interceptors and non-SRT Charger Pursuits a run for their money…”

      Top Gear would say you’re not exactly accurate. The “EGOboost” (as you so eloquently put it) handled your Hemi Charger Pursuit and the Chevy Caprice H.O. quite easily in top speed, quarter mile, and braking. I’m not sure if the Charger was the 5.7 or the 6.4 but regardless… you’ll never completely outrun the Interceptor or its radio system.

      As with most of your anti-Ford comments on here, I think the real “EGOboost” part of your most recent diatribe is connected to your neck, directly between your ears. I don’t directly fault you though… this is the internet. There are PLENTLY more just like you.

  • avatar

    “technology could even incorporate additional features like remote door locks that could be activated in order to contain suspects inside of a disabled vehicle until law enforcement arrives to make the arrest”

    Sell everyone in Iran an inexpensive car that can lock them inside at the push of a button and we can easily invade them.

    • 0 avatar
      noxioux

      Or just disable the Iranian President’s limo, lock him inside, and use the on-board GPS to guide in a handful of JDAMs. . .

      This kinda tech has all sorts of wonderful potentialities!

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    “given the way that most cars currently bundle their technology, it will probable be impossible to remove.”

    There may be a way to remove the system or its functionality from the car. Someone with some knowledge of what codes lines to modify in the BCM might be able to perform the trick.

    The things is… they of course, would make it an offense. A “grave” one. With a back/balls busting fine + jail.

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Call me an extremist, but there is no room for debate on this subject: this is governmental overreach, end of discussion. Of course there are a handful of instances where this may come in handy, but the potential cons far outweigh any possible benefit.

    The argument will of course be, “if you have done nothing wrong, then there is nothing to worry about.” Quite right. And if that’s the case, then why not surgically install tasers into everyone at age 10 so that the police can immobilize you if you commit a crime? Remember – you have nothing to fear if you haven’t done anything.

    The world is a nasty and brutish place. Bad things sometimes happen to good people. Police chases occur, bombers exist, murders abound and pharmaceutical-addled teens go on shooting sprees.

    I’m simply not willing to allow this level of potential control over private movement because it implies that everyone is a potential criminal and treats us like it.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      The argument will of course be, “if you have done nothing wrong, then there is nothing to worry about.”

      Until we tell you you’ve done something wrong, I don’t care if it wasn’t wrong yesterday, it’s wrong today and you’re easily busted.

      I don’t understand why the “I’ve done nothing wrong” mindset doesn’t see this scenario

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        *Exactly*. Our legal system is based on the belief that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

        This whole system turns that on its head and, like speed cameras, treats everyone as though they’re a potential criminal.

        Secret tip: we’re humans. We’re all capable of malevolence.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Hahaha.. more of that bright future coming our way. Leave it to the Eu to come up with this and within due time, others will follow. If used for its intended purpose I think it is good. Unfortunately, this will morph into something else. I thought this technology already existed however; I had heard they could use RF to disrupt the cpus in the car’s ECM. Don’t know why they need a link to do so. I am sure revenue generation will be part of a future plan. All for the common good though.

  • avatar
    CRConrad

    To quote another poster: “What is this, Slashdot?”

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/statewatch-eu-has-plans-for-police-to-remotely-stop-cars/

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    I agree with Athos Nobile. Modern car’s on-board systems/functions are all controlled by software. So I can guarantee you that if this law someday will be established, then immediately there will be someone who will provide the knowledge/service that can bypass the remote kill-switch. The most sad thing about this whole thing is that there are actually highly paid and educated people in some EU office that are seriously working with this project.

    • 0 avatar
      noxioux

      Replace “educated” with “indoctrinated”.

    • 0 avatar
      WildcatMatt

      Actually, this points at the crux of why this is of limited value:

      Most real criminals, the kind of thugs most of us would agree that this would be beneficial to deploy against, will either pay someone to disable this or else simply drive an older car without this “feature”.

      Carjackings/thefts and Amber alerts are the only scenarios where I can see this ability to intervene as a real societal benefit. I expect, however, that it will mainly be used to immobilize suspected illegals in Arizona so their papers can be checked and to facilitate serving warrants for nonviolent offenders in Virginia.

      Just another example of creating a technology where the people it will be the most effective against, are the people it is claimed it will help.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    I have a better idea. Give every driver on the road the ability 1 time a day to reduce another driver’s power by 5 or 10% for the day. Really bad/obnoxious/dangerous drivers would be forced to mend their ways. Then police could spend their time on better things.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Oh yeah that would work, especially when you get a pissed off army retiree going 5 under the speed limit bitching about how everybody around them needs to fall in line and drive the same speed.

      Don’t think these guys exist? You should have met my dad while he was alive. His favorite game was to point out how many infractions he could spot as he drove down the road, the guy seriously wanted to donate time to the local police department just to issue citations.

      I guarantee your idea would result in the biggest parking lot the world has ever seen.

      That doesn’t even include the sorts of shenanigans some of my buddies would pull on the highway and could wreaked havoc with such a system. One of their favorite games to pull in the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel was to take up both lanes and slow down from 55 to 35 mph going into, through, and out of the tunnel.

      The net effect was a big traffic jam as cars packed up and invariably somebody wouldn’t be paying attention and slam on the brakes reducing speed farther.

      Yeah… that is a bad idea.

      • 0 avatar
        doublechili

        I’ve been driving for 35 years on LI, in NYC, NJ and PA, so I know who’s out there on the roads. It’s a tongue in cheek idea that I’m sure would never be implemented, but I’m not sure it would be as bad as you think. For example, the old grouch could only reduce 1 person’s speed by maybe 5% a day. It’s not like he could just randomly zap everyone. More likely, if he pulled the block-the-lane stunt he might get 10 people ticked off and he’d be running at 50% power, or worse. Guys like that, or your chickens*** buddies who block both lanes in a tunnel, would be the ones limping home at 10 mph after they tick off a horde of other drivers.

        The biggest problem would be random, coordinated “attacks” by large groups of punks. No easy solution for that one. Otherwise it’s not as crazy as it sounds if you really think it through.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    When I was a kid, my favorite TV shows were Knight Rider, Airwolf and Star Trek and so I grew up with the perception that Technology Was Good.

    A perception that melted into slag when I encountered Information Technology. The IT guys took High Tech and ruined it. Sissified it. Made it uncool. And are using it to enable not my future, but Joe Stalin’s.

    We should go back to the old Air Force standard of ‘higher, faster, farther,’ when the word ‘technology’ conjured up images of manly researchers and heroic scientists designing rocketships and androids and turbine-powered cars, not nerds-made-good developing facial recognition software and click tracking and airport porno scanners – and this stuff.

    Back when the newer version of a vehicle or a piece of equipment not only performed better than its predecessor, but looked sleeker, too.

    When High Tech meant armor that the Communists couldn’t shoot through, not IRS firewalls that tax-evading hackers can’t burn through.

    Sure, we’ve got great materials science these days, but instead of our best and brightest making the final push toward working fusion reactors, they’re designing a billion useless apps and personnel databases for HR departments and online advertising that stalks you like a paroled sex offender.

    You can keep your 4G smartphone and your 3D TV, but I want my deep-space battlecruisers and warp engines and laser rifles, dammit!

    Here’s to hoping Stargate SG-1 is a documentary.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “Back when the newer version of a vehicle or a piece of equipment not only performed better than its predecessor, but looked sleeker, too. ”

      The “New and Improved, Bigger, Better” world was a marketing tool, it rarely happened

    • 0 avatar
      Garak

      That’s how childhood dies, realizing that the world is mostly dull and drab. For every turbine-powered car or supertank, there’s always been a billion “useless” things designed only to lower personnel costs and/or market stuff to people – and even the supertanks were usually designed by “nerds-made-good”, not the square-jawed hollywood heroes.

      Sleeker looks in cars died because people themselves do not want to die. However, I’m confident that improved materials and technologies will allow cars to look sleek again someday.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        Yeah, and that’s the thing.

        Modern materials science and engineering makes it possible to build a rocketship or a turbine-powered car, but nobody wants to take a shot at it because they won’t become an overnight billionaire doing it, or there’s some OSHA or EPA regulation that makes it effectively illegal.

        The future won’t swagger in triumphantly in broad daylight, it’ll have to be smuggled in the backdoor at 3 o’clock in the morning.

    • 0 avatar
      Charliej

      OneAlpha, you are hopped up on testosterone. Calm down and have a latte or a nice cup of tea. Remember, testosterone poisoning can get you killed.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with you but you have to understand technology will inevitably be used for further enslavement. But also know anything electronic can be hacked.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Civil forfeiture as practised in many states and most of Canada is far more insidious than this stuff.

    It was brought in to get the big mafioso and drugrunners, but the practical application let’s any half-brained, ill-educated police officer steal your stuff because you look suspicious. And there’s bug ger all you can do about it, no presumption of innocence, no chance of a trial.

    It’s here now and nobody’s jumping up and down about it.

    http://m.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/08/12/130812fa_fact_stillman?currentPage=all

  • avatar
    TW5

    Why not automatically shut off the car if they are driving too fast?

    I’m sure this new “feature” will lead to good things in Europe. Lower fatality rates in the herd. Just eat, chew, and swallow. We’ll take care of the rest.

    • 0 avatar
      krausyaoj

      The technology to limit vehicle speed is in development and is called intelligent speed adaption, http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/specialist/knowledge/speed/new_technologies_new_opportunities/intelligent_speed_adaptation_isa.htm

      The various levels range from displaying the current speed limit, warning when you exceed the speed limit and preventing your car from exceeding the speed limit. The speed limit is determined by GPS and a speed limit map.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    If my car were stolen, I would like the police to have the means to bring it to a safe halt and arrest the perpetrators. Currently it seems that they just chase the vehicle until it hits a parked car ruining two owners’ day.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    How is this a “secret technology” if it is being written about?

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I think luxury car buyers and Insurance companies will probably be helpful to set this into action. Having the option to stop a car thief in a way that doesn’t (directly) harm the car will probably be the most prominent use of the system, as high speed car chases really don’t happen that often over here…

  • avatar
    LuciferV8

    When are these totalitarian bastards just going to come out of the closet and force a tracking chip in my hand and/or head?

  • avatar
    RHD

    Okay, that’s it. My ’78 Toyota pickup is never getting sold.

    Once again, the 99.9% of us who never lead the cops on a high-speed chase have to be hobbled by the .1% of idiots who do.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      “Once again, the 99.9% of us who never lead the cops on a high-speed chase have to be hobbled by the .1% of idiots who do.”

      It’s our own fault for allowing each of the .1% to do it over and over again.

  • avatar
    econobiker

    Remote shut down by law enforcement leads to

    remote start up by criminals who hack the cars software…


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