From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: GESTAPO May We Have Your Papers Please( Excerpt From 2005 Ford
Date: Sat, 04 Dec 2004 19:14:16 -0500
On 04 Dec 2004 23:10:47 GMT, email@example.com (jimmineecricket)
>Back to the original post. I am 100% in favor of the recording devices. You
>have to be a moron to make any kind of claim that it infringes on privacy in
>any way. Remember that old adage that driving is a privilidge, not a right? If
>you are speeding and hurt someone, the 'system' has a right to nail your ass.
>Silver tongue lawyers who make a living by making wrong right and right wrong
>will no doubt be against this also.
>If knowing that when you break the law there is a record of it, maybe you wont
>break the freakin law and we will all be a bit safer.
Funny thing is, you armchair fascists are the ones who scream the loudest
when you get gored by your favorite law.
On a philosophical level, our founding fathers didn't grant the government
the power of unlimited spying because they understood human nature, having
just suffered from a classic example. They knew that power corrupts and
that people wielding power can find an unlimited number of excuses to
exercise that power against the people.
The constitution does not give the government the power to regulate
driving. That is a right that the government seized and turned into a
privilege. Doesn't make it right.
But let's get down to some specifics. Let's say you're coming into
Chattanooga. Most drivers pay no attention that the speed limit had been
marked down to 45mph on the interstate miles before the actual
construction zone. Traffic flows normally with everyone ignoring the
limit including the cops. But you're different. You're a wannabe cop so
you plant yourself in the left lane and trundle along at 45 mph.
You hit a bit of construction debris, your tire blows and you cross the
median and hit another car head-on, killing everyone on board. The cops
pull the black box (no warrant needed according to some recent lower level
court rulings) and based on its readings, charge you with multiple
vehicular homicides. The victims' survivors slap you with a multi-million
dollar suit for wrongful death, a suit that vastly exceeds your insurance
Why did they do that? Easy. The black box showed that you were going 67
mph in a 45 mph zone at the time the airbag deployed. It showed that your
foot was off the brake and on the throttle and that the throttle was at
72% open, almost wide open.
First thing you're going to do is shell out at least $10,000 for a
criminal defense attorney's retainer. You're going to need a good one
since you're going to be fighting the "infallible" black box. I mean,
everyone knows that black boxes on airplanes always tell the story. The
government tells you so. Then you're going to fork out many more
thousands for a civil defense lawyer. These guys don't work on
contingency and since the standard of proof in a civil case is much lower,
this lawyer is going to have to do a LOT of work.
None of this would have happened had there been no black box because the
black box lied. Oh, the data it recorded was accurate but since there was
no context recorded, the data is lying about what really happened.
In reality, you skidded sideways onto the median. You'd been trained in
evasive driving so you knew that the way to recover from a skid is to turn
into it while either trailing throttle or applying throttle to lift weight
from the front wheels. Your trained reflexes caused you to turn into the
skid and hit the throttle. You were doing well and almost had the skid
under control until the culvert kicked you up in the air and into the path
of the other car.
Unfortunately for you, the black box isn't really a good data logger. It
was designed to provide data to engineers about the state of the car when
the airbag fired. It was NOT designed to provide a legally accurate
record. Since the purpose of this black box is to aid engineers in
determining the performance of air bags, the functionality is built into
the airbag system, usually as part of the control box. It had to be
reliable but above everything else, it had to be cheap.
Instead of logging data continuously and freezing a sample when the air
bag fires, the box logs data only every 5 seconds or so. That data is
stored in volatile memory. When the airbag fires the box uses power from
the standby power capacitor to flash that data into EEPROM. That can be
done very fast which is important because the box may be about to be
destroyed. And it can be done very cheaply.
Problem is, that data may be brand new or it might be 5 seconds old. 5
seconds in a crash is a lifetime. In your wreck, the data was stored just
before you hit that culvert when your wheels were spinning and you were
applying power trying to pull out of the skid. Your car hit the other one
a couple of seconds later but the data that was flashed to the EEPROM was
grossly out of date.
So, wannabe cop that you are, while you were being the prick that was
driving 45 in the left lane, that black box says you were 27 mph over the
limit because your wheels were spinning while in a slide, and were
accelerating when that sample was taken.
Of course everyone "knows" that no one pays attention to the silly speed
limit signs in that construction zone and everyone "knows" that black
boxes don't lie so you're going to have a hell of a time proving your
innocence. Your defense lawyer will hire experts to reconstruct the
accident scenario but since everyone "knows" that lawyer's experts say
what they've been hired to say, that won't make any difference.
The judge will charge the jury with instructions to the effect that they
can consider the 67 mph speed prima fascia evidence of lawbreaking. While
the jury is out, your lawyer advises you to take the deal for 2 years in a
minimum security jail that the prosecution has offered.
On the civil side, things are much worse. Your money is gone from the
criminal defense so you're having to rely on pro bono representation. No
experts. No investigators. The lawyer has an engineer that he sometimes
uses for pro bono cases because he works cheap. The plaintiff's experts
eat his cake. The judge tells the jury that they can consider your guilty
plea in criminal court. Since there are dead kids involved and the judge
tells the jury that they only have to determine that a preponderance of
the evidence indicates liability, they easily return $5 million for each
of the 4 people in the car. Your liability policy only covers $2 million
so the company writes a check for that amount and runs away.
The court takes almost everything you and your family own. You're in jail
so you can't even help your family pick out the things that matter to you
among the things you're allowed to keep. Plaintiffs get a half million
out of your paid-for house and possessions. That leaves $2.5 mil. You
can't bankrupt out from under a judgment. There is enough money at stake
that you'll be dodging collectors the rest of your life. All your
earnings will be seized except for a tiny bit for living expenses. You'll
be able to live just above the poverty level but that's about it.
If you think this could not happen to you then you need to get out more
and observe some court cases. I've worked many cases as a hired expert
and I've seen similar circumstances arise many times. Usually the smoking
gun is a photograph or a document taken out of context. IMHO, black box
data is going to be MUCH worse. People "know" that photographs can be
manipulated. They also "know" that black boxes don't lie.
Me, I have the black boxes completely removed from my cars. That disables
the air bombs, another desirable feature.
I can only hope that you and people like you are among the first victims
of this system that you so love.
From: John De Armond
Subject: Re: GESTAPO May We Have Your Papers Please( Excerpt From 2005 Ford
Date: Sun, 05 Dec 2004 14:45:49 -0500
On Sun, 05 Dec 2004 16:39:07 GMT, "Jack Cassidy"
>Good post John, If I ever get jammed up over the "Black Box" in my truck I
>hope I can talk you into defending me.
Thanks, but all I could do is advise. I tend to break out in hives when I
get near lawyers these days.
>The problem with removing the black box is when the government finds out
>that people can do that they will probably make it a federal offense to
>remove or have it removed from the vehicle, The only other choice would then
>be to drive a vehicle that is pre black box technology, unless the
>government decides to force everyone to retrofit.
Yes, the spying situation is getting complicated. There is serious talk,
up to the point of some prototypes running around, of putting wireless
links on the car's CAN (used to be Car Area Network, now Controller Area
Network, where the PCM, ABS, air bomb and other black boxes communicate)
bus so that one's emission system status can be drive-by spied upon by EPA
interrogators mounted on the side of the road.
This system is, of course, being promoted as a convenience to the public
and a sacrament to the altar of the environment. (fascinating to watch the
government promote its religion - environmentalism) According to the
propagandists, this system would remove the necessity for annual emissions
Understand that for late model (OBD-2) cars, the "inspection" consists of
plugging an instrument into the OBD-2 connector to check that there are no
codes and that all the non-continuous tests have completed successfully.
This COULD be done as simply as getting major gasoline vendors to install
the interrogators in gas pumps. Get your annual inspection while you fill
up. The inspection industry lobby will have none of that, of course, so
it won't happen. Point is, the "convenience" can be had without external
Aside from the violation of privacy of roadside spying, the other thing
that bothers me is that the government's ability to turn your car off is
just a few lines of code away. All OBD-2 compliant cars (mostly since 96)
have the ability to kill cylinders upon command from the OBD-2 instrument.
One can kill all cylinders at once if desired - in other words, shutting
down the engine. The roadside spy could easily set a bit that would
prevent your car from starting the next time if it sees a test failure.
This would be just like using the air bomb data logger for a nefarious
purpose. OBD-2 wasn't designed for enforcement. Non-continuous tests can
fail for a variety of reasons, only to clear later. For example, if you
don't tighten your gas cap tightly enough, the evaporative emissions
non-continuous test will fail. You get the MIL light on the dash and you
would fail an emission test at that point. When you tighten the cap,
within a day or two, depending on your driving habits, the test will clear
and the MIL will go out.
A snapshot of your car's emission system taken by a spy station during the
time your cap was loose would indicate an evap emission failure. If a
system was in place to turn your car off, you could find yourself without
transportation for no cause.
Even if the system is set up NOT to turn your car off and only, say,
generates a summons letter requiring you to report to an inspection
station, you're still out the money and time.
Driving an older car is certainly a way out of this. When I lived in
Atlanta my daily driver was a 68 Plymouth Fury. I really like that car.
I liked even more driving by those despicable inspection stations with
their lines extending back to the street.
The first half of the 90s decade had some pretty nice cars produced that
are exempt from this type of spying simply because there is no OBD-2
capability. Yet these cars have most of the features we want. Reliable
EFI engines. ABS. Air bombs, if you must. Good stereos.
My current daily driver, a 94 9C1 (cop car) Chevy Caprice is in this
category. I like this car better than any I've ever owned and anticipate
keeping it indefinitely. The cop car version is very nice. Corvette type
engine. Heavy gauge frame. "Competition" suspension. A large seat
designed to fit ballistic vest clad cops that fits my 6'7" 285 lb body to
a tee. No extraneous doo-dads that civilian cars tend to have. Just a
good workhorse design.
I anticipate there being some fantastic money-making opportunities in the
future. Services such as disabling or removing transponders or
programming them to return always-good data. Fortunately the government
and the auto industry talk about things for a long time before they do
them so there is plenty of time for entrepreneurs to gear up.