By on November 17, 2009

Everything under control. Picture courtesy 1.bp.blogspot.com

Dutch motorists can prepare themselves for spending up to four years in the slammer and to pay fines of more than $100,000 if they intend to tamper with the automotive equivalent of an electronic ankle bracelet which their government will put in their cars.

Dutch lawmakers approved the first “pay-as-you-drive” tax system in Europe. Beginning in 2012, Dutch motorists will pay approximately 3 Euro-Cent per driven kilometer, until 2018, the amount will rise to 6.7 Cent. The actual costs vary according to size and engine of the car. The distance driven will be measured by a GPS gizmo, which will become mandatory for most cars registered in the Netherlands.

When we reported this a few days ago, the TTAC commentariat came up with some ingenious methods to disable the “Spionagekastje” (“spy box,”) as the gizmo is now called in the land of cheese and tulips. The Dutch government in Den Haag doesn’t appreciate such ingenuity. According to Das Autohaus, draconian punishment will be meted out if the gizmo is being tampered with.

If the box gives up its ghost, and the failure is not reported immediately to the authorities, it can cost up to $27,000 and half a year behind bars. If the failure has been reported and the box has not been fixed or replaced within three weeks, steep fines are due. Non-payment can result in a loss of driver’s license and car registration. If the box is disabled or tampered with, for instance with the GPS Jammer suggested by Bill Wade, fines of up to $111,000 and up to four years in jail await.

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20 Comments on “NSFW With Dutch Spy Box, Go To Jail...”


  • avatar
    superbadd75

    I just wonder how long it will be before we start doing this here in America. It worries me because I know that there are poeple out there that want it to happen, and other people that don’t see the harm in it. If you want me to pay by mile, use fuel taxes.

    • 0 avatar

      The use of fuel taxes as a disincentive to further clogging our roads is the simplest means to do so. Each steep rise in fuel costs we’ve seen over the last 35 years has demonstrated that people simply become more conscious about combining their trips to minimize fuel usage. Given that each gallon of oil we use sends revenue to people who do not necessarily share our objectives, this is a far more sensible way to make people think about the consequences of firing up the ol’ jalopy and driving down to the store.
      Unfortunately, we’ve seen in this country that fuel taxes are not possible politically. The oil companies have a strong grip on legislators at all levels, and no one wants more discipline imposed on their driving habits even if it is in the interest of national security. Sad.

      • 0 avatar
        FleetofWheel

        “Unfortunately, we’ve seen in this country that fuel taxes are not possible politically.”
        Strange that you don’t know that each gallon of gas sold at retail already contains a hefty portion of tax.
        “…and no one wants more discipline imposed on their driving habits even if it is in the interest of national security. Sad.”
        Isn’t it odd how American people seem to like personal freedom and mobility?
         

      • 0 avatar
        jschaef481

        Heaven forbid we also drill for more dino juice here in our own country…

      • 0 avatar
        doug

        “Unfortunately, we’ve seen in this country that fuel taxes are not possible politically.”
        I’m willing to bet a fuel tax increase would have an easier time passing than allowing the gov’t to track you via GPS.  Btw, in lieu of a higher gas tax, reducing oil subsidies would be a good start.

  • avatar
    rpiotr01

    I don’t think this is coming to America any time soon. I know there are current reps and senators who want this but look at the hackles being raised over healthcare, something that can at least be said to help people in a concrete way.  How would proponents of this even begin to sell it in this country?

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Of course such gizmos are patently unfair.
    Take the example of a wealthy person living in Manhattan who does not own a car but takes several long plane flights a years. They would register zero tax miles.
    A lower class rural person who takes no plane flights but instead takes the family on various road trips per year gets hit with a high overall per mile tax.
    No doubt, the gizmo boosters answer would be to tax the plane passgener, the tain rider and eventually the peddle cart to make the system ‘equitable’.
     

  • avatar
    threeer

    You know…there are (many) days when I wonder about how much America has lost her way.  Then I read something like this, and I am heartened that it’s not so bad here, after all. 

  • avatar
    CyCarConsulting

    I hear in Poland everyone will be  driving backwards, upon implementation

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    First and foremost, I still don’t understand the neccessity for the whole GPS box thing.  Last time I checked, every car made in the world already has a device that measures miles traveled, it’s called an odometer.  So if the Dutch government wants to impose a driving tax, all they’d have to do is have the odometer reading checked at every annual safety inspection (I assume Holland requires annual inspections of vehicles, certainly Germany did when I was stationed there in the 80’s.) 

    Here’s how it would work:  At the inspection on March 1, 2009, the odometer read 67,202 KMs.  At the next year’s inspection on March 14th, 2010, the odometer reads 84,964 kms.  That’s 17,762km driven that year, now tax accordingly.  Simple, easy, no need to employ fancy electronic devices and odometers are already designed to be tamper-proof or tamper resistant (or to display evidence of tampering.)  

    Now I’m not a tinfoil hat wearer or one prone to fits of paranoia, but given the evident simplicity of the above-described scheme, it seems to me there can only be ulterior motives for wanting the GPS box thingy:  Either it’s a taxpayer funded boondoggle to benefit the sellers, installers, and maintainers of said electronic devices, or it’s the first step in a plan to be able to track or monitor where and when people travel (though I’ll concede that this could be done for fairly mundane purposes – monitoring traffic flow, for example – as well as for sinister ones.) 

    My final comment, though, is this:  The Netherlands is a democracy, is it not?  (I seem to recall they have some kind of royalty although I don’t know if those royals have actual authority or of they serve a merely ceremonial role.)  In any case, if this law is implemented it will have been implemented either at the desire, or at the very least, at the acquiescence, of the Dutch people themselves.  So I have to say it doesn’t bother me all that much.  They get to choose the government they want, and the laws they want.  I don’t think it would go well over here but then again, they’re over there, not here. 

    • 0 avatar
      Geotpf

      Simple.  The Netherlands can’t tax miles driven outside the country, hence the use of a GPS instead of an odometer check.

    • 0 avatar
      doug

      The reason they want to use GPS is because they also want to know which roads you are on and at what time.  Basically they want to charge you more if you’re on a heavily traveled road during rush hour.  This is supposed to be an immediate cost incentive for you to find an alternate route during those times (or encourage you to take public transportation) and reduce road congestion.
       
      And interesting idea, but still flawed even if you ignore the privacy issues.  The likely result of this plan is that only the rich will able to drive on the good roads.

  • avatar
    z350

    I’m afraid it is only a matter of time before something like this happens in the US. People are already happy to install an RFID tollway transponder (EZPass, EZTag, etc.). In Houston, these are tracked on the non-tolled highways to determine the time to destination shown on the freeway reader boards and speeds shown on houstontranstar.org. People are, also, happy to pay for the “managed lanes” on SR-91 in Orange County, California to avoid the heavy traffic of the free lanes, for example. It will probably be sold as a way of “managing congestion”, “improving the environment”,  “making sure people pay their fair share for the roads” or all of the above. Unfortunately, people seem all to willing to trade some of their freedom for a small perceived benefit.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Orwell was right, he was just a bit off on the date.

    The saddest part is how easy it is to get citizens to enthusiastically shed their rights.

     

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    Simple.  The Netherlands can’t tax miles driven outside the country, hence the use of a GPS instead of an odometer check.

    I’m not familiar with the Constitution of the Netherlands, but if they’re like any other government they can tax anything they damn well please. 

    Even if the intent of the GPS was to prevent taxing for miles driven outside the country (a dubious assertion, it seems to me) then there are ways to deal with that.  For example, they could do a study showing that, on average, Dutch motorists do 79% of their driving in the country.  So take KMs  driven X tax rate X .79 and there’s your tax.  Or, much more simply, adjust the tax rate, so if the “use rate” should be 1 EU per KM, charge .79 Euro per KM instead. 

    Using a complex, expensive, tamper-prone GPS system to determine something as simple as distance driven is like using a seige gun to kill a gnat.  Makes no sense, unless the true intent is something else, like monitoring location, speed, compliance with traffic regs, etc. 

    • 0 avatar
      charly

      Taking an average like that isn’t really good. Somebody in Amsterdam (100 miles from the boarder) wont drive as many miles outside of the Netherlands than somebody in Maastricht (on the boarder). There is also the issue of the EU as it is a much closer union than the United States of America. They probably don’t allow taxing out of state consumption, something the much more sovereign American States can get away from.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    in theory i don’t have a problem with this
    where I am it costs about a weeks wages to register a car… more if you have a big heavy v8 or SUV
    soooo… given the choice i might go for a user pays system for certain cars… eg. you might have a weekend Miata or something… if you do a per mile charge it might end up being less than a flat rate
    you might do a flat rate for a Honda station wagon daily driver and a per mile rate for your V8 Mustang.
    BUT i assume these communists in clogs are going for a yearly registration fee AND a per mile gps rate… that is a double bite of the cherry!

  • avatar
    wijnandv

    Here, in the Netherlands the majority of people is in favor of this scheme just because it is more fair. A few points,

    Yes, taxing fuel is easier, however, doesn’t allow to differentiate for times and roads. The whole idea is to make it more expensive on busy roads and peak hours, Why, you ask? where and when demands is highest, prices go up. This a capitalism in action. Stockholm had great success with it.
    In the Netherlands, government is not this distant Washington bureaucracy with black helicopters, but far more comparable to your state government. This means trust is higher. We do not reach the general levels of governmental distrust seen is the US. That make us less apprehensive. And maybe rightly so.
    So, you pay for what you get, more capitalist, and proven effective in other countries reducing congestion. What seems to be the problem?
    Let me help you: privacy issues can be a problem, so we’ll keep a keen eye on how that is secured. It is not there yet.

  • avatar
    AccAzda

    Big Brother much?!

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