Published: May 12, 2014
Starting next year every new car sold in in the United Kingdom will have a ‘black box’ device to track drivers’ movements. This is the new plan being imposed by the European Union.
The Government has stated that the tracker is designed to help emergency services find vehicles after they crash but that it will add at least £100 to the cost of vehicles in general, without really providing noteworthy safety improvements. They also fear that the scheme, known as eCall, might be used by police or insurance companies to track its citizens’ every move.
Starting October next year, the European Commission has rules that brand new cars sold across Europe must be fitted with the device, containing a mobile phone-like SIM card that has been designed to transmit the vehicle’s location to emergency services in the case of a crash.
“Unfortunately, there is very little support for the UK position and no possibility of blocking this legislation. We are working with other member states to minimise the potential burdens on manufacturers and the potential cost to consumers. With regard to the rules on privacy and data protection, other member states have expressed similar concerns to us, about the potential for constant tracking of vehicles via the eCall system.” says Robert Goodwill, MP.
Already, a number of vehicle manufacturers, including BMW and Volvo, have eCall devices in their latest models. There is an SOS button near the dashboard, connected to a SIM card that allows drivers to call 999 quickly. In addition, if airbags are deployed, it automatically sends a text message to emergency services with the car’s location – as well as its unique vehicle ID number.
The UK is trying to push back the deadline by two years. Other concerns apart from privacy issues is manufacturers trying to include ‘value added services’ for the SOS services, such as sharing the data with insurers and recovery firms.