California Mulling More Government Access to Cars' On-Board Computers

Will Big Brother monitor our driving habits?


At a traffic school my wife once attended after getting a ticket, the instructor warned the class there are so many driving rules and so much discretion in enforcing them that any driver can be cited for something at any time. Drivers, he said, always are at the mercy of the traffic cop.

Even if that's an exaggeration, the general point seems true. We can drive without being obsessively concerned about getting pulled over because there (thankfully) aren't enough California Highway Patrol officers to stop us every time the speedometer hits 75 mph.

But what if the traffic cop were a computer that always is transmitting data about our driving habits to a government agency? That question increasingly is being asked given technological advancements and a new proposal by the state's air-quality control agency to expand the information your car's computer would be required to collect and potentially transmit to officials.

Currently, drivers get red-light citations via mail because of cameras placed at intersections. USA Today reported that some eastern states have suspended drivers from using toll lanes after their transponders showed them to be speeders. Private fleets often closely monitor, control and punish the behavior of their drivers. What's next?

The On Board Diagnostics computer systems on all of our late-model cars now collect a wide range of information mostly related to a car's emissions. When something is amiss, your dashboard flashes with a "check engine" light and you head to a repair shop to fix it. The goal is to assure cars aren't polluting the air.

But now the California Air Resources Board is proposing regulations (for a May board hearing) requiring manufacturers to significantly expand the kind of information on-board computer software collects about our driving habits.

The software could track miles per gallon, driving distances, how often one stops and starts the car, and how fast one drives. Newer cars already tell us most of this information on those nifty trip computers in the dashboard. The difference, of course, is the regulations would require our cars to also tell government officials the information.

CARB only is collecting the data in the aggregate so that it has information to help manufacturers make cleaner-burning cars, said Mike McCarthy, the agency's chief technology officer. To structure future regulations, he said, "you have to know something about how the vehicle is being used." That data will only be stored in the car computer and can only be accessed by the state after a car turns six and must go to smog check.

But, again, what's next?

On its Web site, CARB addresses rumors about a new program that would end smog check and use transponders to send information directly to the agency. "(N)o such program has been adopted by ARB nor have any decisions been made by ARB to pursue such an approach in California." Other states, however, are starting such a pilot program.

"This is essentially a black box for cars in which the government, not the owner of the car, will control the data," said Adrian Moore, vice president of the Reason Foundation.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced aggressive plans to deal with greenhouse-gas-causing emissions. CARB will help achieve this mainly through little-known rule-making changes — not well-publicized acts of the Legislature. Critics say overly aggressive goals eventually can lead to a more intrusive push to cut automotive emissions.

"The Washington Legislature passed a law in 2008 mandating a 50-percent reduction in per capita driving by 2050," said Randal O'Toole, a transportation expert with the Cato Institute. "The Oregon Land Conservation & Development Commission has passed rules mandating a 20-percent reduction in per capita driving in major urban areas… It is no stretch to imagine that similar mandates, combined with software monitoring and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, would result in such dictatorial outcomes."

This Brave New World isn't here yet, but the issue is worth some discussion and a little concern. Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, created a new committee to deal with consumer privacy and data issues. Maybe the CARB proposal could be an early subject for its efforts.

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  1. And here we have the real reason why environmentalism is the latest cauae celebre’ among statists: “climate change” offers a blanket justification for incredible expansions of state powers.

    1. Libertarians deny science because they don’t like the government policies required to save the planet! Science denying ideologues!

  2. And now the California Air Resources Board is proposing regulations

    Just leave out the words ‘Air Resources Board’, and there’s a sentence you can use every day.

    1. No, you can use the sentence every day. CARB always has proposals.

  3. Finally some good news for those us who can’t afford nice things.

    1. You can qualify for the monitored car tax break when you buy your monitored car.

      1. If you like your old car you can keep your old car.


  4. Fuck California. Time to expel it from the Union.

  5. OT: “If I could’ve waved a wand the day after the election, I would’ve reversed the election and said, ‘This was a bad idea,'”…..s-bad-idea

  6. Jesus, when is it going to end? No, you can’t monitor my every move. Fuck off.

    1. Since you didn’t explicitly say that before they started monitoring you, you waived your right to not be monitored.

      1. “For your convenience, the waiver was made avolitional.”

    2. That’s fine, just give me your hand, so we can insert this big, red flashing crystal into your palm.

      1. Mine would be black, me being over thirty. Or twenty-one, if you’re a book guy.

        1. Black, eh? Please step into this booth definitely not marked SUICIDE BOOTH.

          1. Look, I only step into Disintegration chambers.

        2. I think in the book, it was 30.

  7. One more reason to get a good older car and keep it running forever.

    1. The state will either ban old vehicles or require retrofits.

      1. You beat me to it, you magnificent bastard.

        1. John, have you recovered from your retard-elepsy attack from last night? You know, the one where you were recommending that jack-booted thugs only be allowed to wear clothing that can stop bullets?

      2. Cash for Clunkers!

      3. They pretty much already have. The state exempts things from 75 and prior but everything from then on up has to go to the sniffer. Since they couldn’t beat the massive and moneyed lobby of old guys that drive classic muscle cars, they set their sights on the younger people who have less money or political clout.
        The result is that if you are a guy like me and you are an enthusiast of the cars you grew up with (I build and race a couple of 80’s cars), you have seen an ever tightening of the emissions requirements on these cars. They have to run cleaner than when they were brand new. Every couple of years they tighten the limits on HC, NO, CO2, etc such that it becomes cost prohibitive for the average person to get these cars to pass. The result is that people simply give up on them. Perfectly good cars end up in the junkyard or get dumped on craigslist for a few hundred bucks (which CA has incidentally also made illegal – the car must pass emissions before it changes hands).
        I can’t even scrape the surface of all the insane rules they’ve made. One of the most recent is requiring you buy a “CA approved” catalytic converter. It is functionally no different than one you can buy in any other state. They have just mandated that numbers are stamped on the outside that significantly raise the price. You can’t replace your catalyst with anything else or you will fail visual even if it passes the sniffer. These cats cost much more than a 49 state cat by the way.

    2. Give them time and they will be regulating those off the road. If yo don’t have a government issued GM Pius Hybrid echo box, you won’t be allowed on the road.

  8. “The Washington Legislature passed a law in 2008 mandating a 50-percent reduction in per capita driving by 2050,”

    How long before Ron Baily starts writing in support of a driving cap and trade scheme? We just cap the total number of miles driven, put a GPS tracker on every car and issue negotiable millage ration stamps. So you not only have to have a car and gas, you have to have a millage ration to drive anywhere. As horrifying as that sounds, it is exactly the scheme that was proposed for doing about everything under cap and trade.

    This is one area where the Feds really have a proper role. Because of the nature of interstate commerce, the state that has the most retarded regulations ends up imposing them on everyone. If California says every car must have a GPS tracker such that drivers are treated like wildebeests on the Serengeti in a BBC documentary, everyone will be stuck with them. The feds need to occupy the field here and use the Supremacy clause to invalidate any state attempts to regulate Co2 or reduce “per capita driving” or radio tag their citizens.

    1. Using the Interstate Commerce Clause to actually regulate interstate commerce?

      That’s crazy talk.

  9. I can foresee picking up a couple of pre-BigBro cars and storing them, so I’ve always got something to drive that isn’t a fucking snitch.

    That’ll work up until they say its illegal to drive anything that isn’t a BigBroSnitchMobile. That should be awhile, though.

    1. +1 Red Barchetta

      1. Yes.

    2. I foresee them leaving driving regulations alone. California does it the snitch way because they’re not very bright there.

      What I foresee is some sort of new-fangled gasoline rationing. You will have to scan a vehicle vin before pumping, and if you have exceeded your annual gasoline consumption for the vehicle, the per-gallon tax will be higher and register at the pump immediately. To avoid this tax increase you will most likely want a second car – which means more manufacturing jobs and especially more more money paid in insurance premiums. The higher gas tax will be calculated just at the precipice where having a second car is not quite worth it. Plus it has the added benefit of a whole new software development fuck-up a la Obamacare. I call it Obamacar. More government jobs, more handouts to fractionally-reserved businesses – it’s the American Way.

  10. The only reason I know of CARB is from comparative shopping for generators. “CARB compliant” = $40 more expensive.

    1. Talk to Warty, he’ll give you a good talking to about carbs.

  11. I’m sure we can trust Big Auto to fight back.

    1. Of course. Just like they are fighting CAFE standards and the rest of the retarded shit these people want.

      People think I am being histrionic, but I am telling you Progs hate cars because they are such a tool of freedom. The typical progressive wakes up every day and just seeths at the idea that all of these people are out driving around wherever they want whenever they want and doing so outside of government supervision. They would do anything to take away people’s access to cars if they could. Talk to them. They will all tell you the car is one of the most evil inventions ever. They want people controlled and not moving without government surveillance and supervision.

      It doesn’t matter what you think of cars or driving. Anyone who cares about freedom needs to see the importance of keeping cars available and widely used.

        1. Cars are a gift from God and proof he wants us to be happy. The two inventions that did the most for freedom in the last 500 years are the gun and the internal combustion engine. The first gave people the ability to fight their oppressors and the second gave people the freedom to go and live where they wanted to. And Progressives hate both of them.

          1. Cars are a gift from God and proof he wants us to be happy.

            Um, no. That’s beer. Being that Muslims forbid alcohol and seem to be a rather unhappy lot, I’m inclined to agree.

            1. Beer too. And yeah, anyone who is a teetotaler clearly is not down with God. Three words; Wedding at Cana.

              1. If you haven’t seen this already, check it out:
                How Beer Saved The World
                It basically credits beer for everything from the first hunter-gatherers settling down into communities to germ theory.

                1. Human beings like us have been around for about 100,000 years. For the first 90,000 we achieved absolutely nothing at all. All accomplishments have been made in the last ten thousand years. So what exactly happened that that put an end to primitivism and kick-started the age of creativity and invention? The answer is beer.

                  Beer happened, and it changed the world forever. It sounds almost too bizarre to be true, but many anthropologists and archaeologists now believe that it was a taste for beer, not bread, that started people farming barley in around 9000BC.

                  1. Known as the agricultural revolution, it ended hunter-gathering and led to the world’s first ever civilisation – Mesopotamia. The drive to grow more barley in order to make more beer, led to a cascade of inventions. The plough, the wheel, irrigation, mathematics and even writing, all of these world-changing innovations were dreamed up to help with the production and distribution of beer.

                    As Egypt took over from Mesopotamia, in the Land of the Pharaohs beer was the national currency, a dietary staple and even an important medicine. Put simply, without beer, we wouldn’t have the pyramids. Even in more recent times, beer’s hidden hand has been behind some of history’s most remarkable breakthroughs, from the discovery of germ theory and modern medicine, to the invention of refrigeration, the birth of the factory and the end of child labour. Beer didn’t just change the world, it saved it!


                2. Without beer, it is very hard to store the calories from grain. Without wine and cider, it is impossible to store fruit without refrigeration. Beer and wine and cyder allowed man to survive in cold climates.

            2. “In heaven there ain’t no beer, so that’s why we drink it here. And when we’re gone from here, our friends will be drinking all the beer”
              – Martin Luther, 1545

              1. I hate when that happens.

          2. Did you come up with this? If you did, bravo. It’s brilliant. I want to quote it. If you see this on a meme you are “-John, internet commenter”

      1. Progs have now tied the fucking doomsday clock to global warming.

        The progressive message is a fucking virus that corrupts everything it comes in contact with.

        1. The progressive message is a fucking virus that corrupts everything it comes in contact with.

          Well said. They destroy everything.

        2. Saw that on CNN earlier. Makes me want to dare them to move the hands to midnight. It’s such a meaningless display.

        3. The original Concern Trolls.

      2. People think I am being histrionic, but I am telling you Progs hate cars because they are such a tool of freedom.

        Someone, somewhere is doing something without permission.

      3. Car = Freedom, which irritates progressives. I suspect there is also subtext. I think many of these guys remember that it was the guy with the old rumbly camaro or mustang that was getting laid with more frequency back in school. Cars = Sex.

        Which is also why so many of these same people despise big loud motorcycles – which are more fuel efficient than a prius!

  12. “Mandating a reduction in per capita driving”

    The thought that this could even be done is fucking horrifying.

    1. So you get a ticket if you are parked too long, and a ticket if you aren’t parked long enough.

      1. Monthly excise tax bill for even owning a car. Also, a nice far luxury tax added to gasoline.

        1. Er, FAT luxury…

        2. Wrong. They want you to own a car. Actually, they want you to have a car loan. It’s the USE of the car they frown upon.

          Think “affordable health insurance” versus “affordable health care”.

    2. No kidding. The only way you could do it is by issuing driving rations in some kind of cap and trade scheme like I describe above. And of course that would quickly become a tool for making sure various enemies of the people are prohibited from driving.

      Think about the potential of GPS tracked cars that are constantly connected to the government. With the emergence of biometric identification, it won’t be too long before they will be selling cars that only run for people who can pass some kind of biometric identification. It sounds like a great way to stop car theft and it would be. The problem is that put that with GPS and the government now knows where the car is driving and who is driving it. So then it will be able to make it impossible for anyone it doesn’t like to drive at all. That will be sold as a way to get drunk drivers off the road and then eventually expand to anyone the government doesn’t like.

      1. Wouldn’t be too difficult to program the computer to accept remote shut-down commands either. Once someone has reached their allotment, car shuts off until more credits are purchased.

        1. Wouldn’t be too difficult to program the computer to accept remote shut-down commands either.

          OnStar already does that.

        2. That is already here. It is just a matter of time before the government demands every car has that feature. It will be sold as a way to prevent high speed chases. Why wouldn’t we want the cops to just be able to remotely shut off a criminal’s car? Who could be against that?

          And then it would be as you say, very easy to adapt that to some sort of government rationing scheme. Your typical Prog would have an orgasm reading this thread thinking about the possibilities.

    3. It keeps the poor off the road. And they’re shitty drivers.

  13. That data will only be stored in the car computer and can only be accessed by the state after a car turns six and must go to smog check.

    “Damn, wish I could make a car last more than five and a half years without being totaled or stolen!”

    1. Steve Jobs used to only keep a car six months at a time so he wouldn’t have to get a license plate…

  14. CARB only is collecting the data in the aggregate so that it has information to help manufacturers make cleaner-burning cars

    And pushing for smaller motors will reduce the amount of time spent at full throttle.


    1. Car manufacturers have been able to get an unbelievable amount of horsepower out of smaller engines over the last few years.

      But the MPG and emissions ratings for those cars are a sham. Sure, you can get 25 MPH out of some 500 horsepower Cadillac, if you never put your foot into the floor and drive like an old lady. If you drive like that, you wouldn’t be buying a 500 hp power car. Drive any car hard, which is what everyone who is not an old man wanting to cruise and be scene in a sports car does, and the mileage drops like a rock and the emissions go way up.

      It is just a matter of time before these retards figure that out and start regulating “irresponsible acceleration and driving” via GPS control.

  15. Folks, where do you think the data from your self-driving car will end up?
    ‘Well, Mr Libertarian, we see you visited the area around 500 Main Street where we recently arrested a dope dealer. Would you care to explain your visits?’

    1. Exactly. When I pointed this out and said I wanted no part of self driving cars a few weeks back, everyone immediately joined in giving me a mass beat down as a paranoid Luddite.

      1. Just because you are paranoid doens’t mean that they aren’t all out to get you.



    (and jack-booted enforcers)

    1. Look, all the government wants is omniscience and omnipotence. Like God, but without all of the ideas of absolute goodness, perfection, freewill, and similar impediments to total control.

      1. Look, all the government wants is omniscience and omnipotence. Like God, but without all of the ideas of absolute goodness, perfection, freewill, and similar impediments to total control.

        I don’t know about that ‘but without’ part. Not only do progressives and socialists want their government to have omnipotence but they think the state is actually capable of absolute goodness, perfection and the like.

        1. Not just capable, but actually acts in pursuit of it.

          It’s almost like they don’t believe in corruption!

          Maybe it’s just corruption when the Right Sort of People aren’t in charge.

          1. Look, this you miss. There is NO corruption in socialism or communism. There can’t be, because corruption assumes that it is acting outside of the system. In socialism and communism, corruption is a feature, not a bug.

        2. I meant actual goodness, not their distorted, sick views of it.

  17. Drivers citizens, he said, always are at the mercy of the traffic cop.


    1. “All creatures, he said, always at the mercy of the government.”

      FIFY, too.

  18. The existence of progressives and their lack of limitations is but one more reason to abolish tax funded government. At this rate we’ll be in a full fledged dystopian hellstate within 20 years.

  19. Are we sure this came from CARB and not the NSA?

  20. Fucking auto play ads? Are you serious?

  21. my roomate’s aunt makes $82 /hour on the laptop . She has been fired from work for eight months but last month her income was $21833 just working on the laptop for a few hours. view it……

  22. $89 an hour! Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening?And i get surly a chek of $1260……0 whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my kids.
    Here is what i did

  23. I once heard that a number of rental car companies were doing exactly this. If, while driving their car, your speed went over 80 for a total of 10 minutes, the car company charged your card fine (like, 30 bucks, or something like that.)

    Has anybody heard anything like this?

    1. Sounds familiar, but I don’t remember any specifics about it.

  24. In 2025, California will mandate that all driverless cars give the state the ability to control them.

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