Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Your car has officially signed on with all relevant authorities to:
-Notify police when you transgress.
-Assist the police in your apprehension
-Waive your Fifth Amendment rights and provide evidence to assist in your conviction.
I'm mostly kidding. Really.
OnStar, the vehicle assistance program available in most GM models has announced two new features to assist subscribers when their vehicles are stolen..."Remote Ignition Block" and "Stolen Vehicle Slowdown". On the face of it, these two things trigger the following reaction in me...Cool Beans!
Your car gets stolen; you call the cops, you call OnStar. Voila! OnStar gives the cops a GPS location for your car, they activate the anti-theft stuff and cops recover you car. How cool is that?
On the other hand, this inspires a certain level of both the "healthy" and "whackjob" varieties of paranoia in me. Do you really think that cops will never use this technology for anything other than recovering stolen vehicles for their rightful owners from nefarious evil-doers? No! You don't either.
Oh, sure...it'll start with cops contacting OnStar because they see an obviously drunk driver who won't stop. Boom! Some cooperative service rep at OnStar slows the guy's car to Zero MPH and the cops get a dangerous guy off the road.
And maybe next, they'll be chasing a bank robber who makes the mistake of using his very own OnStar-equipped GM car as a get-away vehicle. Ta-daaaaaa! Bad guy hoist on his own petard!
I'm sure there's some small print in OnStar's contract that supposedly prohibits OnStar reps from activating these features for anything other than their stated purpose. I'd wager there's even some rule against activating them for any reason while the car is being operated by their own subscriber. But c'mon! How likely is that to stop some civic-minded OnStar rep from just being helpful to the cops. Hey, who cares if he's our customer...he's breaking the law and we can help the cops!
And then, there's the cops who might...uh...misrepresent what some driver is doing. Some cop thinks his wife is cheating on him with a guy driving a 2010 Chevy Equinox? Kill his car with a theft investigation. Maybe the cops miss one of the guys holed up in a hotel room who was Tweeting G-20 protesters on police movements? No Problem. The guy drives a GM pickup truck.
Bear in mind...I have no plans to buy a new car any time soon, and I certainly have no plans to commit any felonies (or even really bad misdemeanors), but I don't think I'd be rushing out to buy a GM car anyway. It seems a little like buying a house that's equipped to call the police to rat me out if I have any bad thoughts. Then it'll lock me in while waiting for the cops to arrive, and invite them in to arrest me when they get there.
And I can't decide how serious I'm being with this post vs. tongue-in-cheek* about the whole thing...but it's probably more than a little telling that these are the first thoughts that occurred to me when I saw these features advertised.
*You may now all take this opportunity to be as snarky or as frothy as you choose about the whole thing.
Posted by Nathan at 6:39 AM