Should Police Have The Right To Take Control Of Self-Driving Cars?

Tech Dirt – by Karl Bode

As Google, Tesla, Volvo, and other companies make great strides with their self-driving car technology, we’ve started moving past questions about whether the technology will work, and started digging into the ethics of how it should work. For example, we recently discussedwhether or not cars should be programmed to sacrifice their own driver if it means saving the lives of countless others (like a number of children on a school bus). Programmers are also battling with how to program vehicles to obey all rules — yet still account for highway safety’s biggest threat: shitty human drivers.   

But another key question recently raised its head in discussing what this brave new self-driving world will look like. Just how much power should law enforcement have over your self-driving vehicle? Should law enforcement be able to stop a self-driving vehicle if you refuse to? That was a question buried recently in this otherwise routine RAND report (pdf) which posits a number of theoretical situations in which law enforcement might find the need for some kind of automobile kill switch:

“The police officer directing traffic in the intersection could see the car barreling toward him and the occupant looking down at his smartphone. Officer Rodriguez gestured for the car to stop, and the self-driving vehicle rolled to a halt behind the crosswalk.

Commissioned by the National Institute of Justice, the RAND report is filled with benign theoreticals like this, and while it briefly discusses some of the obvious problems created by giving law enforcement (and by proxy intelligence agencies) this type of power over vehicle systems and data, it doesn’t offer many solutions. As parts of the report make clear, having immediate access to driver and vehicle history and data is an incredibly sexy concept for law enforcement:

“Imagine a law enforcement officer interacting with a vehicle that has sensors connected to the Internet. With the appropriate judicial clearances, an officer could ask the vehicle to identify its occupants and location histories. … Or, if the vehicle is unmanned but capable of autonomous movement and in an undesirable location (for example, parked illegally or in the immediate vicinity of an emergency), an officer could direct the vehicle to move to a new location (with the vehicle’s intelligent agents recognizing “officer” and “directions to move”) and automatically notify its owner and occupants.”

Yes, because if the history of intelligence and law enforcement is any indication, the “appropriate judicial clearances” are of the utmost importance. Thanks to what will inevitably be a push for backdoors to this data, we’ll obviously be creating entirely new delicious targets for hackers — who’ve already been poking holes in the paper mache grade security currently “protecting” current vehicle electronics. The report does briefly acknowledge this “risk to the public’s civil rights, privacy rights, and security,” but as we’ve seen time and time again, these concerns are a footnote in the expansion of surveillance authority.

We already live in an age where the consumer doesn’t have the ability to control or modify their own vehicle’s electronics courtesy of DRM and copyright, and self-driving cars are already going to be a tough sell for many people from a liberty and personal freedom perspective. Adding the ability for law enforcement to not only snoop on vehicle data but take direct control of your vehicle — is a conversation we should start having sooner rather than later.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20150826/06014632066/should-police-have-right-to-take-control-self-driving-cars.shtml

11 thoughts on “Should Police Have The Right To Take Control Of Self-Driving Cars?

  1. Oh yes, give pigs access to make you swerve or roll through a stop sign or roll over and die in a fiery crash. (Michael Hastings) Excellent way to exploit more money in frivolous fines from the goyum or get rid of someone who’s “problematic”. I don’t have that problem. Computer guy “fixed” it for me. Don’t ask. I can’t do it myself and I can’t tell you how to do it but there’s people around that do know.

  2. I saw all this crap coming from the moment I first heard about Internet-connected and self-driving cars. It’s likely that the main reason why Google and other companies in bed with the government are pushing for these cars is to attack privacy. OF COURSE the pigs and spooks will have access to every car’s location data. OF COURSE they’ll have access to a (quite literal) kill switch.

    This is precisely why I’ll never buy any car that’s physically capable of wirelessly connecting to a network — at least not without disconnecting the appropriate antenna or otherwise physically disabling the car’s wireless hardware as soon as I take ownership.

    1. “…as soon as I take ownership.”

      Not possible. The state owns your car, you’re just renting it from them.

      If you don’t pay the registration (rental) fee every year, they assume ownership.

  3. Like firearms: When non-Self Driving cars / trucks become outlawed, only outlaws will drive their own cars / trucks. Count me in as an Outlaw till death. I will NEVER have anything to do with any AI / remote controlled vehicle. Period !!! Won’t ride in one or purchase one, and damn sure will NEVER surrender my firearms . . .

  4. I think the police should take control of their underwear because they’re gonna be gettin’ pretty sh&^ty when they start gettin’ shot at regularly. Just sayin’…
    😡

  5. I think the better question is WHY would a person WANT a self-driving car in the first place? Have people really gotten that lazy that they need a computer to drive them around? Whatever happened to the joys of driving or taking a ride out on the open road? Oh yea the police and their Commie quotas took that away from us.

  6. “The police officer directing traffic in the intersection could see the car barreling toward him and the occupant looking down at his smartphone. Officer Rodriguez gestured for the car to stop, and the self-driving vehicle rolled to a halt behind the crosswalk.”

    That scenario will NEVER fly with the pigs.

    What, and pass up the perfect excuse to “fear for their (miserable, worthless) lives”, and blast the perp to pieces?

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