Posted by Yudi Sherman
Wed, Jul 13, 2022
EU mandates surveillance boxes in cars
As of last week, all cars, trucks and buses manufactured in Europe must be fitted with a black box, or in-vehicle data recorder, as per an EU directive from 2019. The purpose of the black box, according to the European Commission, is to collect data on vehicle safety, particularly information related to collisions.
But the European Commission also intends the black boxes to be used as a method of reward and punishment for drivers by tracking them and recording every traffic offense they commit, upon which the drivers will be fined automatically.
“Black boxes can also be used to influence driving behaviour and facilitate forms of automatic policing (100% surveillance of all traffic offences),” says the EU on its website. “Offenders can be tracked more easily and fined automatically by means of devices such as Electronic Vehicle Identification.” While the EU includes a link to find out more about Electronic Vehicle Identification, the page comes up empty.
But the boxes can also be used to “reward safe behaviour and to reduce insurance premiums.”
In essence, the EU wants to use “data recorders as enforcement devices. Research indicates that data recorders fitted to trucks and vans lead to an average reduction of 20% on the number of crashes and damage.”
This is due to a psychological effect. “The effect derives from the driver’s knowledge that traffic law infringements can in principle be detected by examination of the driving records.”
The black boxes raise questions about their potential use in environmental, social and governance (ESG) scoring, which would track drivers’ environmental compliance and reward or punish them based on their carbon emissions.
At the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2022 in Davos last month, Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group CEO J. Michael Evans revealed that the company is developing the tech framework to monitor each individual’s carbon footprint wherever they go and that the platform will also reward people for green travel.
“So we have within our business something called ‘AMAP’, which is a mapping – think Google Maps or Waze – plus travel destination business,” explained Evans during a panel called Strategic Outlook: Responsible Consumption. “And so what we’re going to do is first allow people to calculate the best route, the most efficient route, and the most efficient form of transportation and then if they take advantage of those recommendations, we will give them bonus points that they can redeem elsewhere on our platform.
“So they are incentivized to do the right thing even if they were provided the opportunity to do the wrong thing.”
While such technology would track driver’s ESG obedience, the EU’s black boxes could enforce it by transmitting the information directly to authorities who would fine the offending drivers automatically.
For now, these carbon trackers are voluntary. But the WEF is working towards changing that.
“Polluters will have to pay to emit carbon dioxide,” says the WEF as one of its eight predictions for 2030. “There will be a global price on carbon.”