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Conspiracy Theories

Car Subscriptions and the Lack of Transportation Privacy in the Modern World

There is a reason the government is egging you to buy a new electric car subtly
There is a reason the government is egging you to buy a new electric car subtly

The cost of our modern conveniences is complete transparency and a loss of privacy. The days of discreet travel are over. Today, you’re tracked from the moment you start your engine, thanks to data sharing agreements you unknowingly accept when clicking “I agree to the terms and services.” But what does this really entail? Why is your data needed? You might think I’m exaggerating, but unfortunately, I’m not.

The car you drive can reveal more about you than you might realize. While technological advancements have significantly enhanced both the safety and convenience of driving, they have also transformed cars into sophisticated data-gathering machines. Many car owners are unaware of the specific information being collected or where this data is being sent or stored.

This lack of clarity poses a serious privacy concern that could lead to unforeseen issues in the future. As technology in the automotive industry continues to evolve rapidly, understanding the extent of data collection by vehicles is essential.

What Kind of Data Does Your Car Collect?

To grasp the extent to which cars have become fully computerized, it’s illuminating to contemplate a seemingly basic action drivers perform each time they start their journey: activating a turn signal.

Aspects that were previously managed through physical wiring are now handled within this internal car network. So, when you indicate a turn, instead of a traditional switch triggering an electrical current to a light, a message is transmitted across the vehicle’s network.

Sure, it is easy to ask ourself what kind of information we have to hide, and that only people who are up to no good should be concerned about this, but is it? Not if you ask me. We are having a major rise in instances where people are willingly sharing their data for no reasons at all. I mean, why does the AI have to know where you are going and what your average schedule could be? Who is monitoring and retaining this data? Car manufacturers? Government officials? The Big Brother? Damn it Orwell, you were supposed to write fiction, not give the agents of the state ideas!

The California-based Mozilla Foundation reviewed 25 car brands and reported that none met its privacy standards, marking the poorest review ever received by any product category, including mental health apps.

“Modern cars are a privacy nightmare,” Mozilla stated, highlighting that car manufacturers boast about their vehicles being “computers on wheels.” While concerns have focused on internet-connected doorbells and watches potentially spying on us, car brands have quietly entered the data business, transforming vehicles into powerful data-gathering machines.

Tesla emerged as the worst offender in the study, with Nissan following closely and noted for seeking some of the “creepiest categories” of data, including sexual activity.

The study revealed that an alarming 84 percent of car brands admitted to sharing users’ personal data with service providers, data brokers, and other undisclosed businesses. Additionally, 76 percent acknowledged selling customer data, and over half disclosed sharing data with government and law enforcement upon request.

With Tesla and other electric car manufacturers trying their best to make everything on a subscription basis, resist them

With Tesla and other electric car manufacturers trying their best to make everything on a subscription basis, resist them

Anyway, here is how your driving data would be used across the industry. The food industry, especially fast and convenient foods, would love to scour through the data and pay a good price for it. Why? Because the data that is being collected by your car also shows when you’re visiting the local food chain; their nearest branch. This, coupled with the data that is already being collected by your phone means precise and directed marketing. For you, hon. Whether you like it or not, these big industries are playing with your head.

In 2020, Allstate explained on its website that telematics, or a telematics system, is utilized to gather data on mileage and driving behaviors. Typically, this information is collected through a mobile app or a compact telematics device supplied by your insurance provider. It’s not only corporate vehicles that come equipped with such tracking capabilities. OnStar, a roadside assistance service owned by General Motors, is integrated into a wide range of Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac vehicles. Even buyers of pre-owned cars might discover OnStar systems already installed.

What subscribers might not fully realize is that along with roadside assistance, they’re also opting into extensive monitoring of their driving activities. According to OnStar’s privacy policy, the company reserves the right to collect substantial amounts of vehicle data, which may include, but is not necessarily limited to:

“GPS location, speed, airbag deployments, crash avoidance alerts, impact data, status of safety systems, braking events, swerving/cornering incidents, event data recorder (EDR) information, seat belt usage, vehicle direction (heading), audio and video data such as camera images and sensor readings, voice command logs, stability control or anti-lock braking system events, security and theft alerts, and usage data from infotainment systems (including radio and rear-seat entertainment) and Wi-Fi connectivity.”

Now, my good sir, what does that mean? It means that your data handler can predict you more accurately than how you can ever imagine. The aforementioned data would be sent to train the AI models that you would be seeing in cars that is going to be coming out in, say, 15 years? Based on the aggressive data collection, the rise of AI, and the input that is going directly towards the marketing department of all these companies, I’d say 10. If we are lucky, that is.

Oh, and not to mention, there’s the matter of the infotainment system. Most modern vehicles enable drivers to link their smartphones directly to the car itself, which proves convenient for tasks like playing music or making hands-free calls. However, it becomes less convenient if concerns arise over what sensitive information might be exchanged between these devices.

Connecting your phone to your car can sometimes result in your entire contact list and all text messages being automatically transferred from your phone to the vehicle. As reported by The Intercept in March 2021, Berla, an American company, manufactures and markets devices that law enforcement agencies can use to extract various types of data from cars’ infotainment systems.

Modern connected vehicles not only harvest data from driving but also monitor in-car entertainment and third-party features like satellite radio and navigation systems. An overwhelming 92 percent of automobile brands were discovered to provide users with little to no control over their personal information. Only France’s Renault and its Dacia brand permit users to erase their data, likely due to compliance with European Union laws.

Mozilla criticized that none of the car manufacturers, including Ford, Chevrolet, Toyota, Volkswagen, and BMW, could verify they met the foundation’s basic security criteria. This is particularly worrisome given that 68 percent of these brands have encountered data breaches, hacks, or leaks in the past three years.

The Fine Line That Differentiates Convenience from Mass Surveillance

Once, when I was attending a class on Social media and marketing, I heard the professor mention that when the product is free, then you will be the product. The retaining of the data by all corporations, with you having absolutely no control on how the data is shared (hey, do you want your car or not?), can be really problematic soon, as the companies, all of them, in fact, seem to be pushing for more and more breaches in personal data, while “providing” new features.

Earlier in 2022, several media outlets reported that BMW had introduced an $18-a-month subscription fee for heated seats in various countries, including South Korea. This move comes after BMW’s unsuccessful attempt to charge customers $80 per year for access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, features typically provided for free by other automakers. Despite reversing course on charging for these previously complimentary features, BMW’s actions suggest a continued pursuit of subscription-based services in its vehicles.

As cars become more and more computerized, we will be seeing a massive correlation with the rise in having to pay for comforts and even basic features of the car that we used to take for granted, on a subscription basis. But does that mean that the car companies are going to lower the prices of cars? Absolutely not. Instead, what we will see, is more depreciated pricing on parts of cars, more subscriptions and ways to siphon off your money. But hey, unchecked capitalism is great, right? And the car companies have to eat too.

Then, don’t get me started with the ridiculous way we are letting these companies drag our personal data through the dirt. To them, we are nothing more than what is called as data packs. Without us knowing, we are consenting and complying to things that would make a lawyer weep. And the best part is that all of these companies would swear that the data is not being collected for anything other than “internal training and records.” Just two words, dear sir: Cambridge Analytica.

Cars with subscription seem like something from a dystopian movie, but unfortunately we have it right now

Cars with subscription seem like something from a dystopian movie, but unfortunately we have it right now

And when we are letting these major auto manufacturers do this to us every single time, they get more and more audacious. Finally, you’re going to need a subscription plan to drive your car, which you bought each month. But hey, Morbid, that is not possible, right? There is no way that is going to be possible. That we will let them get away with this. Well, think again. No, hear me out:

Just a few months back, people with subscriptions to Amazon Prime and Netflix have been seeing advertisements coming on their “premium” accounts. And when premium accounts that you’re paying over $20/month don’t give you an ad-free experience, what makes you think that the car which you bought will give you the right to drive?

And, of course, it doesn’t stop there. You’ll soon see that others would be doing the same thing. That’s how Amazon Prime took off with the ads, right after Netflix. The lack of complaints and proper boycott, or more like the lack of total disgruntlement from the customer base that would shake these greedy bastards to the core, ensures that they will do it and keep getting away with it. And of course, soon they will find more things to add, to gouge the money from you.

What I am trying to say here is that auto manufacturers are far from over. They are here to create an absolute hell for the customers in the long run, if we as customers are to keep quiet. They know they can get away with it, because we are compliant. We will lay down and let them do it to us, no matter how ridiculous it might seem.

So, now we have cars that is directly connected to the GPS 24/7 that would know when we are leaving for work, if like Tim Horton or Starbucks, how much time we spend there, where we go to work, and where the mistress lives, when we leave their place, and where we take our significant others on dates. Once it gets these, it transmits the information to the parent company, and they, in turn, would sell it to the highest bidder. There you go. Data pack.

Once the company sells your data, the buyer can access invaluable marketing and promotional material. Really, when was the last time you turned off the location sharing on your phone? Of course, it’s easier to punch into work when you’re rushing to work on Monday mornings, but have you ever noticed if you take pictures on national parks, stores, or even in the middle of buttfuck nowhere, that google butts in and asks you to leave a review with the precise pictures that you took from that place? Yeah, global village and a good citizen, eh?

When the car knows and talks with the phone, nothing good will ever come out of it, unless you’re interested in spending the $20 you have on Ronald McDonald’s coffers. You might think that there is no way that McDonald’s can force you to buy something that you don’t want to by means of advertisement. And you are right. Thankfully, we still have rights on that front. The days of them wanting to force us to buy their products is not here yet. Then what do I mean, you ask?

They employ a tactic known as subtle advertising. This means that around lunchtime, the ads you see repeatedly on Instagram or Facebook Marketplace start to resonate in your mind, often without you even realizing it. This is how sophisticated the marketing industry has become over the last decade. You buying things without you even realizing it.

Still itching to get your hands on the Tesla? Get this beauty instead!

Still itching to get your hands on the Tesla? Get this beauty instead!

So, there you are, driving to get your Big Mac again instead of enjoying a homemade lunch. Healthy? Not at all. Convenient? Absolutely. Last year, General Motors reported earning over $2 billion from in-car subscription services, a figure the company anticipates will soar to $25 billion by the end of the decade. This would essentially place GM in the same league as major subscription-based companies like Netflix, Spotify, and Peloton.

This represents a monumental shift in how vehicles are marketed and sold. Traditionally, a car’s factory-equipped options are permanent, regardless of its age or how many times it has changed hands.

However, this paradigm has shifted in recent years, partly due to Tesla’s influence and the advent of over-the-air software updates. Elon Musk’s company pioneered microtransactions and now sells access to various features post-purchase. At one point, Tesla even shipped cars with battery packs whose range was limited by software, allowing owners to pay a fee to unlock the full capacity.

Some experts predict that this model could encourage automakers to provide more software updates, enabling vehicles to evolve after purchase. However, assuming that automakers will consistently act in the best interests of consumers seems overly optimistic.

How to Counter the Rise of these AI-driven Cars?

What I would personally suggest is to get a car that is used, and preferably from the pre-2010. In those times the cars were at their absolute peak, with efficiency and the need to be on the forefront a priority. That priority, for some reason, has changed today. I used to drive a Mercedes W202 from 1995 until I lost it in an unfortunate accident (don’t worry, it’s not my fault). The next car that I went for was the indestructible brick, the Volvo 240.

Of course, it does not come with heated memory seats, direct connection to Spotify premium, or even air conditioning. But at the end of the day, if our worst fears are to come true, I know that my car would be under my control, along with my data, not in the hands of a corporation that would love to gouge us till we are left dry.

Do not yield to the rebates and whatnot that the government is go generously providing you to switch to the electric monstrosities. Their battery replacement itself is going to be over 20,000 dollars, and as I mentioned, you do not even have full control over the car that you paid for. Heck, it can drive back to Musk the bigot if you default a single payment. In this way, you will truly own nothing, and have to pay for every single thing again and again.

A 1984 Volvo 240, commonly known as the indestructible brick

A 1984 Volvo 240, commonly known as the indestructible brick

We see a massive rise in homelessness, mental health issues that go unaddressed, veterans with lack of access to proper healthcare, hate crimes against minorities and police brutality on the rise daily. Do you really think that the government(s) is interested in caring for you? When was the last time they did that in the past decade? The rebate program is a way to make you switch to the forced-voluntary data sharing that they are trying to push so hard. It’s their wet dream.

At the end of the day, some people might call it all crazy, some might say that it is impossible, some might even say that the car companies will never be able to have the absolute power that I mentioned. Think again, my friend. The large corporations in the media are already doing it, and they are able to get away with it successfully. Get yourself a good car, before it gets too late, and don’t buy the latest depreciative junk the local dealership would love to sell you.

This kind of makes me wonder. If buying is not ownership, is piracy a crime anymore?

Next, read about the mystery of the Barbel ship that swallowed its crew, and then, about the fate of the man who accidentally killed John Gotti’s son.

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Written By

Abin Tom Sebastian, also known as Mr. Morbid in the community, is an avid fan of the paranormal and the dark history of the world. He believes that sharing these stories and histories are essential for the future generations. For god forbid, we have seen that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

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