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Beware!! Veronica the EU Voyeur May be Watching?

November 5, 2009

[picapp src=”4/f/7/7/Numbers_of_Surveillance_4650.jpg?adImageId=7132473&imageId=4288953″ width=”380″ height=”246″ /]

Bridgend, Wales – The European Union has just spent £2.4million (€2.68 million) on Project Veronica, a study into the feasibility of fitting cars with event data recorders (EDRs) a road going version of aircraft-style black box flight data recorders.

EDR’s are handy little things they can record 20 types of data such as vehicle speed, direction and recent driver actions including when the brakes were last applied and whether the horn was used. This information could be used by police and insurance companies to determine who was at fault in the event of a crash.

Of course EDR’s fit snugly with e-call the pan-european in vehicle emergency call system. That’s the bit of kit with GSM cell phone and GPS location capability that calls the emergency services if you crash, either automatically or via an in vehicle panic button.

So with a combination of EDR and e-call fitted to a vehicle, handily included in the vehicles ECU, not only can the details of a crash be recorded but where and when it happened.

From there we are just an EU Directive away from the compulsory fitting of systems that will constantly monitor your location providing the potential for an almost infallible surveillance system. Useful for the levying of all those road charges, fines, and of course law enforcement and national security issues.

The UK has more CCTV cameras per head of population than any other country in the world. We have a system that monitors vehicle registration numbers on our main motorway and trunk road network. It is alleged that the London congestion charge enforcement system is monitored by the national security agencies. We also have, allegedly, over 780,000 people resident in the UK illegally, 1.7million people driving vehicles without insurance and an estimated 1.8 million vehicles being operated without road tax. An intelligent observer may thus draw the conclusion that all this surveillance is not having much effect.

Obviously the UK needs to protect itself from all those nasty people who don’t like us. Whether that’s protecting the people or the state is open to question. As we have a tendency to go around doing a poor imitation of the world’s policeman it’s hardly surprising that currently there are quite a few people out there in that ‘don’t like you’ category. However do we really need this level of overt and covert monitoring? Sure the usual ministerial offering on this is ‘nothing to hide nothing to fear’, but frankly why should honest citizens sometimes get the feeling that they are living in a real life version of Francis Ford Coppola’s film ‘The Conversation’. A master class in not only Coppola’s Direction of the film but also in the subject matter i.e. surveillance.

Some believe that the UK is already a police state. In reality we are far from an informant in every street as exampled by former soviet bloc states. The real danger is complacency and the corrosion of reasonable measures. Reasonable measures, things like throwing people whose opinions you don’t agree with into jail or worse to the wolves on ‘Question Time’, bring dictators and by default police states.

What about biking.

I’d lay good money on there being a research and development laboratory, somewhere in Europe, where a man in a white coast has just completed an EDR small enough to fit behind the battery of that new kawasuzmaha ZB 1000 that you will be buying in 2012.

We are not alone!!

© Back Roads Rider 2009

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