Ravage Webzine, 26 Feb 2014: 'European cars get spy box'
“Cars in Europe will from next year be fitted with a box that automatically summons emergency services in case of a serious accident. Privacy First is furious, calling it a spy box.
A majority of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats in the European Parliament (EP) on Wednesday agreed to a new law on a mandatory eCall system in new cars from October 2015 at the latest. The ANWB, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and EU commissioner Neelie Kroes pushed for this on behalf of the Netherlands. The system is intended to automatically alert emergency services after an accident. As a result, emergency workers are led to the right place faster. The European Parliament estimates that 2,500 lives could be saved annually by eCall.
Opponents within the EP argue that eCall contributes little to road safety and threatens privacy. According to Judith Sargentini, MEP for GL, the system only creates false safety and the law is a gift to the car industry. "The eCall device always knows where you are, can independently connect to the manufacturer's systems and cannot be switched off. A recipe for abuse," Sargentini said.
Privacy First is also not too happy with the EP's decision. "Through eCall, the 112 emergency services are automatically called in the event of an accident. However, the eCall alarm system also leaves a trail of location data without the motorist's prior consent. Indeed, the system is compulsorily fitted and there is no on/off button on it, but it continuously leaves traces (metadata) in surrounding GSM networks," a spokesperson informed.
The system therefore poses a direct threat to the privacy of every European motorist, Privacy First believes. "Moreover, the system will be able to be used for other purposes and by other organisations than purely road safety. Think police and justice, insurers, tax authorities, secret services and possibly even criminal groups."
It also bothers the privacy watchdog that there has been hardly any public debate on eCall. "Mandatory introduction is thus not only unlawful, but also undemocratic. After the Dutch population massively rejected road pricing a few years ago, that same population now threatens to be saddled with in-car spy boxes via a European backdoor after all."
Privacy First intervenes as soon as the right to privacy is in danger of being massively violated. If the eCall system is mandatorily introduced in the Netherlands, Privacy First will file a lawsuit to undo this. The digital watchdog is prepared to continue litigating for this up to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and views the outcome of such a court case with confidence."
Source: http://www.ravage-webzine.nl/2014/02/26/europese-autos-krijgen-spionagekastje/, 26 February 2014.