FORD WANTS TO BE ABLE TO DISABLE ITS VEHICLES
Ford recently filed a patent for something called, “Systems and Methods to Repossess a Vehicle,” raising the eyebrows of those who are concerned about the privacy and security of their automobiles. This proposed technology would allow Ford to repossess vehicles remotely and/or to disable essential functionality, such as air conditioning, automated door locking systems, window controls, radio, cruise control, and so on.
The patent describes a “multi-step repossession procedure.” First, owners will be subject to hounding notifications on their smartphones and vehicle displays, supposedly urging them to address their delinquency. If that fails to prompt compliance, the annoyance will escalate from car functions being halted, an “incessant and unpleasant" alarm sounding every time the owner enters the vehicle, to the car being completely disabled.
While a Ford spokesperson claims that the company doesn’t have “any plans to deploy this [process],” these technological developments raise potential safety concerns. For example, if a car in Phoenix has its air conditioning automatically disabled, the effects could possibly prove fatal to a vulnerable occupant, like an infant -- given that the daily temperature in August averages a sweltering 105° F (40.55 °C).
And this technology would expose owners to a plethora of privacy and security uncertainties particularly regarding the use of their information (such as their location and other data) for other than repossession purposes.
As manufacturers entertain these innovations, it's imperative that ethical standards be implemented to ensure best practices. Automakers should not be permitted to infringe on individual rights and freedoms. They must be compelled to disclose all contemplated uses of their customers' data, and consumers must be afforded the ability to opt-out of this electronic meddling with their use, ownership, and privacy rights.
Think this technology is headed for a car wreck?
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