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back to article EU signs off on eCall emergency-phone-in-every-car plan

The European Union's plan to insist every new car on the road by 2015 includes a mobile device that phones home after a crash is set to become reality, after the European Commission signed off draft legislation to enact the scheme. Assent from the European Parliament and Council of the European Union is now required, but little …

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Guaranteed not to track you

...after the addition of a little lead box around the device.

I smell a business opportunity here...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Guaranteed not to track you

No need. Your phone does this 100 times better anyway. On top of it - it can pretend to be off, while still tracking you and even recording your conversations (proven multiple times for different phone models). Do you keep your phone in a steel box too?

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Re: Guaranteed not to track you

I'm also doubtful about where they got the 2500 lives over 10 years number. However, I'm guessing that this will result in many more stolen cars being returned sooner - although a bit bent up.

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Meh

Though Prism was bad enough

Now this?

What next?

Monitoring device in my kettle in case of spillage?

Monitoring device in my toaster in case of burnt toast?

Monitoring device in my shoes in case of trippage?

Monitoring device in my pants in case of follow through?

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Anonymous Coward

If it can be programmed, then it can fcuk up your life.

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Facepalm

Re: Guaranteed not to track you

100 times better? With the GPS turned off a phone has only a rough idea where you are. And if I were really paranoid, it's easy to remove the battery, or even leave at home. Try removing the battery from your and travelling in it. (Of course if you were really paranoid you could use an older car, or the bus).

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Unhappy

Re: Guaranteed not to track you

Yes. "could be exploited for additional services (e.g., ...stolen vehicles tracking ).... not subject to any constant tracking."

So, they'll just track us when they want to. How reassuring. Especially given:

"European Commission signed off draft legislation to enact the scheme. Assent from the European Parliament and Council of the European Union is now required, but little opposition is expected.'

Of course not, those elected MEPs will just do what their non-elected civil servant masters tell them to. As usual.

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Stop

Re: Guaranteed not to track you

How will the phone communicate said "secret tracking data" back to the "watchers" though? Im assuming the phone will simply have a simless "emergency only" cut down phone system. Data roaming across the WHOLE of the EU would be the best pork barrel contract known to man for some telco.

Currently handsets can make emergency calls in the EU anyway regardless of contract/plan etc so the infrastructure already works for the intended purpose.

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Re: Guaranteed not to track you

"I'm also doubtful about where they got the 2500 lives over 10 years number."

Imagine the number of people who end up in a ditch or wrapped around a tree in the dark. Even if they're conscious and in possession of a phone they might not know where they are and of course they might not be conscious or in the possession of a phone.

A device which automatically calls emergency services might very well make the difference between life and death.

I have no idea how they reach that figure though. It actually sounds pretty low, and to be callous about it doesn't seem like it gives much bang per buck.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Guaranteed not to track you

Exactly my thoughts, minimal return on investment in life saving, much better to funnel all that money into cancer research.....

And while I actually LIKE the idea of an automatic 112 call in the event of an accident, I see this as a back door way to install GPS tracking into every car... At the moment I can turn off my phone if I want to be not tracked.... but with ANPR I guess the police can track me anyway (although in theory those traffic monitoring cameras don't track you, not that they couldn't)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Guaranteed not to track you

> ...after the addition of a little lead box around the device.

Or, more worryingly, a black market in jammers that are sold to block the tracker in your car but end up screwing up phone and/or GPS reception for everyone within 100m of your car. Haven't these EU muppets heard of the law of unintended consequences?

Actually, looking at the fiasco of current tax law the answer is obviously "no" :(

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Re: Guaranteed not to track you

If you are insured 3rd party, fire and theft, it's probably better that you don't get your car back at all if it's been in an accident, since the insurers turn around and say, "You got it back, so no payout!". If it was written off, they say, "Sorry, you're not covered for that as 3rd Party/Fire & Theft only"!

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Re: Though Prism was bad enough

Are any of those situations a life threatening emergency? Please enlighten us.

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Holmes

Re: Pork Barrel

@ Danny14 "Data roaming across the WHOLE of the EU would be the best pork barrel contract known to man for some telco."

Vodafone are deeply interested and have been gearing up for this for some time....mind you, their mindset is conditioned by their history with mobes ("try the product in the marketplace and dump it if it doesn't fly immediately"), which is completely wrong for a life-and-death service that has to function reliably for decades.

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Thumb Up

Re: Guaranteed not to track you

The deaths rate is pretty low just because modern cars are very survivable in crashes. There's a lot more serious injuries, and again, time is important to ensure best outcome for the victim(s).

It's a neat idea, but the paranoia will have to be worked around.

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Pint

@Pen-y-gors

Well, here in Holland we already had idiocy like that in the past. "Rekening rijden" ("Driving by bill"), every car would need to be fitted with a GPS device (and they even said that's what it had to be) so that it could detect if you were driving on a road for which you had to pay.

The plan never made it, but it seems some politicians went up the ladder a bit.

I think we have every right to be concerned. Because what will be next? Once the politicians finally discover that such devices can also measure speed I wouldn't be surprised one bit if eventually some "political genius" cooks up an idea to have the devices track the speed of a vehicle and when it goes too fast you'll need to pay, no matter what.

Think of all the money they can save by not having to station police men alongside the road?

And when looking at Holland; I don't think those police officers will be placed elsewhere in the force so that they can now perform other, more important, tasks. Of course not; they will have to go because that is really going to help the government save money.

This may sound like far fetched science fiction to you, but once they start adding this big brother crap into the cars I'm quite convinced that it will only be a matter of time. As crazy as it may sound, I've seen politicians do even crazier stuff. Just because they're politicians doesn't make them smart people.

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Big Brother

Re: Though Prism was bad enough

Pretty sure they don’t need to track you using this bit of kit, considering the amount of ANPR cameras on European roads, it would be entirely pointless, they already know where you are.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Though Prism was bad enough

I suppose you are against smoke detectors too.

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Monitoring device in your head.

coming soon to prevent though crime.

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Re: @Pen-y-gors

I agree that the government will use it to track your speed and may issue tickets to people and use it for law enforcement. I can also see the government selling the tracking information to companies and on the screen inside your car that controls the radio, heater, etc. will pop up ads based on what you are driving by at the time. Scary! Also a threat to privacy like our NSA snooping in the USA.

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Re: Though Prism was bad enough

Burnt toast is carcinogenic so if they find you've been eating it the NHS will be able to refuse treatment.

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Coat

Re: Guaranteed not to track you

<snip>

No antenna => no tracking

//dikes in the pocket

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Pen-y-gors

> Just because they're politicians doesn't make them smart people.

In 21st Century Australia, "smart politician" is an oxymoron.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Pen-y-gors

"In 21st Century Australia, "smart politician" is an oxymoron."

In most of the World "politician" is a moron.

On another note, how long until oiks start going around smacking the front towing point to set the system off?

Back in the day you could unlock a BMW by smacking on the front anchor point with a club hammer at which point it dutifully unlocked the doors.

How many call-outs to parked cars that get hit?

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@ Smoke Detector AC

Yes, I am against them in my house. In the ones that have smoke detectors, I always take the batteries out because the number of false alarms (burnt toast/grilled lamb chops) and the fuck-awful "change the battery" alarm that always goes off in the middle of the night are just not worth the vanishingly small chance that there will be a fire (my dad was a fire officer and wouldn't have a smoke detector in the house either). In an environment I don't control, it is a different thing - I would think twice about staying in a B&B that didn't have smoke detectors, for instance.

There is insufficient need for this type of intrusive "for your own good" tech, and I'll be looking for ways to disable it if I have a car with it fitted, in the same way as I do with my smoke alarms.

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Stop

It'll end like this ....

Try to call emergency services after a pile up only to be told 'all circuits are currently busy'

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Devil

Re: It'll end like this ....

Not necessarily. At the very least they can finally implement this one using data instead of circuit switched. So it will eat much less resource than the corresponding 4-5 voice calls.

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Anonymous Coward

anonymous and idle

until it's turned in discretely, without warrant, because everyone is a terrorist.

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Paris Hilton

Define "crash"

How will the device detect whether the crash is severe enough to require emergency services? If it is going to send off an emergency call every time someone has a minor prang in the car park, it could become seriously annoying for the emergency services.

Paris ... well, work it out for yourselves ...

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Re: Define "crash"

Pop up a 10 second warning on the inboard touch screen allowing you to cancel. If you're seriously injured then obviously you won't be concentrating on the touchscreen.

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Mushroom

Re: Define "crash"

Pop up a 10 second warning on the inboard touch screen allowing you to cancel. If you're seriously injured then obviously you won't be concentrating on the touchscreen.

The car park scenario: When that ten seconds timer has expired I will be out of the car beating the shit out of the prat who drove into me whilst talking on his phone.

On second thoughts, perhaps he'll be needing the ambulance.

As an aside. Can such calls be sent to other emegerncy services such as the televangelical injury claim lawyers?

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Re: Define "crash"

alternatively I will have jumped out the car to remonstrate with the moron who has just hit me or a la Fawlty Towers I will be to busy hitting the car with a tree branch to remember that there is something in my car doing an ET phone home impersonation.

I'm with the poster, how on earth will it know if the crash is serious enough? Unless of course it uses some form of by numbers algorithm at the emergency services centre where they calculate the number of calls from the same location but then that means anyone hitting a tree on a country road will still be lying there until someone else comes by.

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Stop

Re: Define "crash"

I *think* the existing BMW version defines crash as "airbags deployed", which seems like a pretty good starting point. Even if the car is still drive-able, I imagine the shock of being inside when they go off probably means you're not in a fit state to do so for a little while!

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Re: Define "crash"

The new Focus is the same - if you pair your Bluetooth phone to the car and the airbags go off, it'll make the call for you in your language (presumably the car knows where it's from) anywhere in Europe.

Presumably it does the same as this proposed system, but uses my phone rather than a built-in one.

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Re: Define "crash"

"I will be out of the car beating the shit out of the prat who drove into me whilst talking on his phone.

On second thoughts, perhaps he'll be needing the ambulance."

I assume from your attitude that these injuries will end up being self-inflicted?

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Re: Define "crash"

Cars with airbags already have accelerometers etc. I imagine it will be a threshold based on sensors. The ACU already knows the angle of impact, force, speed and perceived severity. Thats why you see crashes with certain bags undeployed and perhaps the pre tensioners not even fired. The car should already know a "threshold" that is bad enough to call.

Incidentally id love some prick to start thinking with his fists before listening to reason - hell, i'd let him, it'll get me a week off work after my insurance company takes him to court for the pleasure (after the criminal one of course). i seem to remember a few accidents due to faulty pedals (outside the drivers controls) and various floor matting that caused pedal to stick (again not 3rd party added by drivers etc). It isnt always as clear cut as the moron who thinks he is right.

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Re: Define "crash"

. . . and perhaps the pre tensioners not even fired. The car should already know a "threshold" that is bad enough to call.

If I got hit that hard, I'd fire the tre pensioners though.

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Re: Define "crash"

Airbags is no good, I had a fairly serious crash, and the airbags did NOT deploy as the impact span the car rather than blunt force forward/sidewards etc which sets off the airbag...

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Re: Define "crash"

That's fine if it's not clear but. But if the person who's just ploughed into you had a CD in one hand, a mobile phone in the other then it may be very justifiable...

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Re: Define "crash"

GM has this as an option on their vehicles in North America, they call it OnStar. I've been on a fair number of OnStar calls both with Fire and EMS. They all start the same way, with a rapidly escalating blanket search, eventually involving multiple emergency vehicles and dozens of personnel, of an area absolutely nowhere near the incident. They end with either resources local to the incident responding to a call from a passer-by, or with the police tracking down the owner of the vehicle to find that they'd pranged it, parked it, and hitched a lift to the pub ishityounot. 'OnStar Call,' is emergency services slang for, 'wild goose chase.'

Of course in the ads, OnStar effects an immediate rotary medevac and a skin-of-the-teeth save and they would know better than me as they're the people selling it.

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Re: Define "crash" @ paulll

Thanks, paulll, for some actual experience. I had been wondering whether to post the possibility/probability of that being a likely scenario, but you have the actual knowledge.

This is an utter waste of time and money, and has "Ulterior Motive" written all over it in dayglow orange letters three metres high ...

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Anonymous Coward

Another life saving device

How about we stick a phone in everybodys butt and if farting is not recorded for some time then it will call emergency services.

We could start with MEPs and goverment officials.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, by all means call the Ambulance but this is a waste of time

The plonker who ran into the back of my ex-Police Motorcycle will be needing them once I get through kicking the shits out of him

'I didn't see you guv' came his lame excuse despite all the Day-glo yellow festooned all over the bike and me.

He was talking to his lady-friend on his non hands free mobile.

The Biker Plod who turned up said that this was becoming pretty common and had happened to him not that before.

He did the plonker for Due Care + using a non hands free mobile + No Tax + No License + No Insurance. The car got towed and I'm £500 quid out of pocket (my excess) because the plonker had no assets apart from the car which was crushed by the Plods.

On the otherhand, this will allow the Plods to track all those uninsured cars on the road until the Chavs get wise to the problem and disable the phone device.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: track uninsured drivers

They don't need to track them. The computer already issues a fine if there is no insurance. Although it makes it harder, this does not stop people driving without insurance, as there are a number of possible ways to circumvent it. Tracking would not help here.

Also, it might be worth considering that criminals / scumbags do not normally buy a brand new car and then drive around in it without insurance. They will probably use an older car.

Did you miss the part of the article where it says that the spec defines that there is no connection except in an emergency and it must not be capable of tracking?

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Mushroom

Re: Yes, by all means call the Ambulance but this is a waste of time

...apart from the car which was crushed by the Plods.

Oh, I wish they did that here (USA). Instead we have guys who are celebrating their 15th DUI arrest. Crush their cars on the second one and perhaps they'd either get the message or run out of beer money.

Massachusetts actually has posters in the shops around here that list the escalating penalties for your 2d and subsequent DUIs...up to 8th or 9th, I believe.

//sheesh!

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and less than a month after this becomes "law" - we will start to see stories trickling out about how faulty firmware leads to spurious calls to emergency services even though the car hasn't been involved in any accident...... Further up here - people have been mentioning calls that do this already using existing bluetooth phones - surely this is a much better way of implementing this - if you want the service - pair your phone to the car - if you don't want it - don't pair it.

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Big Brother

c'mon....

First off, I've avoided this system like the plague since Merc started offering it as an option.

But back to reality...once all cars have this little ditty, then someone will work out that you don't need ANPR or toll booths or speed cameras or complicated road pricing systems etc as the car can provide this information, so a bucket load of cost/benefit there. Then there will be the "flags of interest" much like the ANPR ones just now, but much more accurate because the car's location will be known 24 hours and who knows what will be of "interest" down the line. Ok, no one will be able to nick cars anymore, but people who nick stuff will just find something else to nick. Oh and what about "special" firmware/software updates depending on governemnt policy? What you're getting is PRISM for cars to match PRISM for people. I don't know where this is going, but it's getting pretty scary.

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Happy

Fun and games.

Keep a rubber mallet in the car. Give the eCall box a belt with it occasionally when bored.....

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Anonymous Coward

wasnt it die hard 4

hit the stationary car with a dustbin to set the emergency call system off?

imagine the fun the housing estate kids who usually fire a car to get the brigade out before pelting them with bricks will have with this system?

Soon a list of "places to ignore" will spring up, much as the ambulance service in london send a lone bike paramedic to assess before deploying expensive ambulances to estates.

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^ This.

Plus, I'd imagine the expense of send Police/Ambulance/Fire to every little shunt, will soon rack up.

All in all, this strikes me as a well intentioned, but ultimately bone-headed idea.

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