Sales are booming for lo-jack style devices designed to remotely kill cars when their owners fall behind on payments. These cars are sold to people whose credit has been downchecked to "B," on lots where cars cost more, loan terms are worse, and they contain GPS units that make the car's location continuously available to the dealer, credit-company (and others) so that they can more easily repossess the cars.
Companies such as OnStar are beginning to make use of their remote controls for purposes other than theft prevention: for example, the company promises to throttle the engine of any car that they're told is involved in a police chase.
Presumably these remote-kill devices are no better or worse secured than, say, the tax-records of every British parent (repeatedly lost by the tax authority), or the computer systems of giant credit-reporting bureaus, or the networks of the 100+ embassies and foreign service offices penetrated by the GhostNet espionage ring.
Designing devices that are intended to be remotely disabled, against the owner's wishes, is like designing one of those science-fiction-movie spaceships with the inconveniently placed "self-destruct" button. I always wondered about those: wouldn't starship engineers turn out a better product if they designed it from the ground up never to explode?
And wouldn't these cars be more secure if they were designed never to be remotely controlled against the owner's wishes?
The devices, which are required by a growing number of subprime loan contracts, are the product of a revolution in telematics -- the blending of telecommunications and wireless technology.
The devices are usually controlled remotely by the dealer or lender and are linked to the vehicle's powertrain. They usually cut out the power several days after the payment is due. Before the deadline, the driver is treated to a concert of tones and flashing indicators signaling that the deadline is approaching. There are also warnings after the deadline has passed.
Their proponents call the devices a win-win for consumers and finance companies. They make it possible for dealers to sell cars to people who would have a hard time getting a loan otherwise. The buyers end up paying a somewhat lower interest rate because the risk to the lender is less.
The products also include global positioning, or GPS, to speed up the repossession of the vehicle, if necessary.
I’ve been using Stanley’s classic flask for years (I literally packed one, full of nice bourbon, in my suitcase this morning for the Melbourne/Sydney/Berlin trip I’m leaving on tonight), and I have no complaints: it’s beautiful, easy to close, and rugged.
Mattel’s Hello Barbie has a microphone and a wifi interface, and it transmits the phrases it hears to a central server in order to parse them and formulate a response. Mattel claims that the data isn’t being retained or harvested for marketing purposes, and assures parents that they can make Barbie stopping eavesdropping on them […]
I blogged the announcement of the Qwerkywriter more than a year ago, when the company was retooling from its successful kickstarter to full retail production. I’ve had one of the production models in my office for a couple of months now and I’ve been very impressed! (I wrote this review on it).
Carrying this EDC card is like slinging around a handheld toolbox wherever you go. Its minimal design is small enough to fit in your wallet’s billfold, and it’s TSA-compliant so you’ll never leave it behind. It’s got hex wrenches, metric and imperial rulers, flathead and Phillip’s screwdrivers, and a bottle opener so that you’re ready […]
Today only take an additional 15% off the below drones today using coupon code: DRONE15 at checkoutThe Code Black is our top-selling drone of all time—and for good reason. This powerful, palm-size drone is not only insanely fun to fly, but can capture some serious video footage from up above. With a flight time of […]
Why interrupt your post-Thanksgiving turkey bliss to wait in an epic line, when the best deal of the season is a click away? We’re treating you Mac enthusiasts to the ultimate Black Friday bundle, packed with apps to give your machine a mega boost in the right direction. From Drive Genius to AfterShot Pro to […]