Xeno's strange news awards blog.
The European Union is secretly developing a “remote stopping” device to be fitted to all cars that would allow the police to disable vehicles at the flick of a switch from a control room.
Confidential documents from a committee of senior EU police officers, who hold their meetings in secret, have set out a plan entitled “remote stopping vehicles” as part of wider law enforcement surveillance and tracking measures.
“The project will work on a technological solution that can be a ‘build in standard’ for all cars that enter the European market,” said a restricted document.
The devices, which could be in all new cars by the end of the decade, would be activated by a police officer working from a computer screen in a central headquarters.
Once enabled the engine of a car used by a fugitive or other suspect would stop, the supply of fuel would be cut and the ignition switched off.
The technology, scheduled for a six-year development timetable, is aimed at bringing dangerous high-speed car chases to an end and to make redundant current stopping techniques such as spiking a vehicle’s tyres.
The proposal was outlined as part of the “key objectives” for the “European Network of Law Enforcement Technologies”, or Enlets, a secretive off-shoot of a European “working party” aimed at enhancing police cooperation across the EU.
Statewatch, a watchdog monitoring police powers, state surveillance and civil liberties in the EU, have leaked the documents amid concerns the technology poses a serious threat to civil liberties
“We all know about the problems surrounding police stop and searches, so why will be these cars stopped in the first place,” said Tony Bunyan, director of Statewatch.
“We also need to know if there is any evidence that this is a widespread problem. Let’s have some evidence that this is a problem, and then let’s have some guidelines on how this would be used.”
The remote stopping and other surveillance plans have been signed off by the EU’s Standing Committee on Operational Cooperation on Internal Security, known as Cosi, meaning that the project has the support of senior British Home Office civil servants and police officers.
Cosi, which also meets in secret, was set up by the Lisbon EU Treaty in 2010 to develop and implement what has emerged as a European internal security policy without the oversight of MPs in the House of Commons.
Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP for Clacton, attacked the plan for threatening civil liberties and for bypassing the parliament.
“The price we pay for surrendering our democratic sovereignty is that we are governed by an unaccountable secretive clique,” he said.
Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, described the measure as “incredible” and a “draconian imposition”.
“It is appalling they are even thinking of it,” he said. “People must protest against this attack on their liberty and vote against an EU big Brother state during the Euro election in May.”…
After that’s in place we move on to the next step… remote explode. Could remote access to car’s “brains” have already been used to kill? I’ve heard that about the Prius acceleration problem but it seems like a mechanical thing (although I don’t buy the floor mat explanation based on this article:)
James Sikes, whose 2008 Toyota Prius accelerated suddenly on a California interstate Monday, reaching 94 MPH before he was able to bring it under control with the help of the California Highway Patrol, said the cause of the incident was a “stuck” accelerator.
According to Sikes, he held on to his steering wheel and tried to pull the accelerator pedal back with his right hand. “I thought it was maybe stuck,” he said. “Somehow the pedal was stuck. But it wasn’t stuck on anything that was visible.”
Toyota has issued separate recalls to fix floor mats and “sticky” accelerator pedals. The 2008 Prius is covered by the floor mat recall, but not the accelerator recall. It uses a different accelerator pedal than the cars that allegedly have “sticky” pedals.
Sikes said that he also checked his floor mat during the incident, and the mat was “perfect.”
Sikes, 61, was driving east on Interstate 8 near Lake Jennings Park Road at 1:30 p.m. when he tried to pass a slower car, according to the California Highway Patrol’s account of the incident. Sikes then noticed that the Prius seemed to be accelerating on its own.
Sikes attempted to bring the car under control himself, and then called 911 when he hit speeds over 90 miles per hour. Sikes says his vehicle reached 94 MPH.
A car from the California Highway Patrol caught up to Sikes when he was east of Kitchen Creek Road, meaning that he had traveled more than 20 miles since the incident began. Officer Todd Neibert pulled alongside the Prius and began giving Sikes instructions over his public address system.
Said Neibert, “When I saw him, I could smell the brakes.”
“I was standing on the brake pedal,” said Sikes, “looking out the window at him.”
Based on instructions from the police officer, Sikes used his brakes and his emergency brake to slow the car down. Sikes said the car slowed to 55. After several attempts to shut off the car by using the ignition button, he was successful.
Neibert pulled his patrol car in front of Sikes on the shoulder of the interstate in case the vehicle began accelerating again.
Sikes reported that there was “nothing wrong with my mat” and that his accelerator pedal “stayed right where it was” when he attempted to pull it up. Sikes also said there were several times when he came close to other vehicles, and that he was also worried about careening off the interstate in the hills east of San Diego.
“I won’t drive that car again, period,” said Sikes. “Maybe they can find out what’s wrong with them now.”
He then referenced the sudden acceleration incident that claimed the lives of California Highway Patrolman Mark Saylor and three members of his family in nearby Santee in August 2009. “That was just right down here,” he said, “not too far from me. Obviously, if I can have a problem, anybody can have a problem.”