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[P]
They're watching you...

By Jive Billy in MLP
Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 11:39:02 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

Here's an interesting story from CNN you might miss if you just read their headlines: click here.

To me, this looks like we (as a people) just took one more step towards the society depicted in the movie Demolition Man ("You have been fined one credit for swearing...").


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comments (24)
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To those of you to lazy to click on the link or read the entire story, here's the meat:

  • Man rents car equipped with GPS
  • Man exceeds 79 mph for two minutes on three occasions while driving car
  • Man returns to find he has been fined $450 because of the three incidents

    Sure, he apparently initialled the part of the contract that said this would happen, but that doesn't make the situation any less scary!

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    Poll
    Do you object to this type of monitoring?
    o Yes 70%
    o No 18%
    o I don't speed, so what do I care? 10%

    Votes: 91
    Results | Other Polls

    Related Links
    o click here
    o Also by Jive Billy


    Display: Sort:
    They're watching you... | 45 comments (27 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
    Acme, was it? (4.50 / 8) (#1)
    by weirdling on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 03:05:58 PM EST

    Well, won't be renting from them anytime soon. I like the line in the article 'I think it's safe to say this saves lives.' Total non-sequitur, no backing information, and no reference to the several studies showing this to be a fallacy...

    I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
    Lesson: Read contracts! (4.55 / 9) (#2)
    by Xeriar on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 03:08:23 PM EST

    That said, they were rather shady about it (it was buried). Also, given the incredible reliability of GPS at this point... well :-)

    And hopefully this is gonna post as topical like the selection says...

    ----
    When I'm feeling blue, I start breathing again.

    Rental Company's Property (3.57 / 7) (#3)
    by winthrowe on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 03:08:33 PM EST

    If he signed the contract, then I don't feel any sympathy for him. I believe that if the company had done this with out informing the customer, then there would be a signifigant problem, but if he has a problem with the rental terms he should find another rental company

    Fair enough... (3.50 / 8) (#4)
    by Jive Billy on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 03:14:41 PM EST

    But what happens when all rental companies include this technology? Or maybe we should just install this in all cars, rental or not...you know, for our own safety.



    [ Parent ]

    Make your preferences known. (4.00 / 2) (#29)
    by winthrowe on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 06:23:52 PM EST

    Perhaps I'm optimistic, but if consumers make the concious decision not to rent from companies employing measures such as these (and make it known to be a deciding factor), then the choice will remain available. If there's a signifigant demand, the supply will remain.

    If there's a move to legislate the inclusion in all cars, I'll fight it. Until then I'll make it known to any company I rent from that GPS tracking is something that affects my decision. An early move to express the unacceptability of it should help to stop a move to make tracking manditory.

    [ Parent ]

    You can't go with a lawyer everywhere (4.66 / 3) (#30)
    by svampa on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 06:42:58 PM EST

    In Spain those are known are adhesion contracts, you can't negociate clausules, nor change anything, you just sign it or forget it.

    It's supposed that those contracts are fair, and strange clausules are only to protect then company against customers abuses, but a lot o times the clausules allow the company to abuse. If it works for the company,people signs without reading too much, and later don't complain, (450$ don't worth lawyer and court costs) other companies will do the same. Usually only laws can stop it.

    Think about abuse conditions of banks, you can't change of bank, every bank have similar clausules. More than offer "Come with us, we don't have such clausules" they silently include such clausules. Competence doesn't work

    That could be the future of spam mail and ISP.



    [ Parent ]
    my thoughts (2.75 / 4) (#7)
    by starbreeze on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 03:35:06 PM EST

    Yeah, i saw this on slashdot, and i was a little enraged until I saw the part about going over 79mph, not just speeding. I always speed but I try not to do over 80mph on the interstate. since it's 65 speed limit and doing 20mph over can get my license taken away. Plus I probably wouldn't be going that fast in a car that wasnt mine and that i wasn't familiar with. however, it seems to have been fine print, and they know no one ever reads that shit, so it should have been posted somewhere better. If no other car rental places take this queue, i do forsee them losing much business.

    ~~~~~~~~~
    "There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor

    oops (2.33 / 3) (#10)
    by starbreeze on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 03:38:48 PM EST

    ok i shoulda kept reading. it was in bold print and explained according to them. it's still creepy that they track that. don't even police radar hafta give like 5mph margin or error? and you can contest tickets in court.

    ~~~~~~~~~
    "There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor
    [ Parent ]

    Read this too.... (4.00 / 5) (#8)
    by univgeek on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 03:35:31 PM EST

    While your at this check out the follwing link. It came on the 'other site' by the way.

    In essence he claims that cops didnt find him speeding but the device DID and that GPS is quite unreliable.

    I tend to agree with the article. This is quite scary, especially because the guy never had a chance to argue against it. They took the money without even informing him. To me this is unnacceptable, even if I sign a contract, I would expect them to inform me if I broke the contract.


    Arguing with an Electrical Engineer is liking wrestling with a pig in mud, after a while you realise the pig is enjoying it!

    While it may have been in the contract... (3.75 / 4) (#12)
    by Rasvar on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 03:51:42 PM EST

    I don't like this one bit. If one rental car company has this, others will surely add it, forcing those of us who don't like this kind of monitoring to use it.

    I also have problems with private companies trying to act as defacto police. They should not be using this to help fund their bottom line. I might feel a little better if the money went to some kind of road saftey fund. Still would not like it.

    Of course, if you know anything about GPS, you can foil these systems. Probably another fine in that. Plus, what kind of privacy mechanism is in place to keep the tracking info from being disclosed? Too many bad legal/big brother issues here, IMHO. Using the systems in a company truck or company owned vehicle driven by company employees is one issue. This is something that I can only find as an invasion of my own privacy. I have a choice now; but if other companies adopt it, I won't.

    I will also say this, this has nothing to do with speeding for me. I am a stickler on this issue. I don't think credit records or scores should be made available unless you are making a financial transaction involving credit or monthly payments of rent. I don't think tax records should be on the net. I don't think companies should be allowed to sell info about me to other companies without my permission. I opt-out every way I possibly can. I have filled out a ton of forms in the last month. I have nothing to hide; but I like my privacy as much as possible.

    hhmmm, maybe I'm reading wrong (2.00 / 1) (#20)
    by jayfoo2 on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 04:25:28 PM EST

    I don't think they are using GPS to measure the speed. They obviously have some kind of uplink from the car, but why use differential GPS to measure speed? Why not just jack into the speedometer......

    My guess is that's how they are doing it. What we're really talking about here is telemetrics, the GPS part is a bit of a red herring.

    (did I read the article wrong?)

    [ Parent ]
    The system does use GPS (3.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Rasvar on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 04:27:21 PM EST

    Its the design of that system. GPS can easily determine speed and position and pass the infor to another device. It is an easy install.

    [ Parent ]
    Put the shoe on the other foot (3.57 / 7) (#14)
    by theboz on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 04:05:50 PM EST

    Let's say you owned a car, and I rented it from you for $25 a day. Now, we'll just say that the car cost $10,000 new to make it even although some of the rental cars cost more and less than that amount. Anyways, you would want to protect your investment.

    In I come, Carl Customer and I am going to rent your car. You don't know me, and if I drive recklessly and total your car you will end up needing to hassle with insurance and all sorts of other problems. So, you try to keep your vehicle used safely and properly so you set rules for me. I sign a contract agreeing to abide by these rules or else you will fine me then I go out driving.

    Let's say you are driving down the road at about 10 MPH over the speed limit, then suddenly I whizz by you going much faster. You will not be happy, and I am endangering the lives of you and everyone else on the highway. Why shouldn't I be punished for breaking the rules?

    The only two issues I see here are 1) Why did they do this rather than putting governors on the cars, which would prevent the customer from going over 79MPH, and 2) why do they rely on GPS which is not completely accurate for this type of thing?

    Also in addition to those questions, I would like to remind you that GPS is used on a lot of cars now. They use it so that they can track if a car needs help or the person needs picked up, whether they break policies such as driving out of the range they agreed to, and if it's stolen to find it. I don't really see a voluntary service as "Big Brother" because it is not mandatory to rent a car. When the government of wherever you live starts forcing GPS to be installed in every car so that they can track you and see if you are speeding, then we have a privacy issue, but not when you are renting other people's property. There is no problem here, other than the unreliability of GPS and this guy can take Acme rental car to court if he doesn't think he was speeding.

    Stuff.

    Called cost of doing business (4.50 / 6) (#19)
    by Rasvar on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 04:25:04 PM EST

    In I come, Carl Customer and I am going to rent your car. You don't know me, and if I drive recklessly and total your car you will end up needing to hassle with insurance and all sorts of other problems.
    That is a cost of doing business. BTW, rental car companies make a ton of money off of the insurance they sell.

    Also in addition to those questions, I would like to remind you that GPS is used on a lot of cars now. They use it so that they can track if a car needs help or the person needs picked up, whether they break policies such as driving out of the range they agreed to, and if it's stolen to find it.
    True; but these systems are not usually continuous transmit. They only send the data when needed.

    I don't really see a voluntary service as "Big Brother" because it is not mandatory to rent a car.
    You obviously don't have a job that requires you to travel to out of the way places where there is no public transport. The majority of rental cars are rented by business men and women. Plus, if some idiot runs into my personal car and wrecks it, I have to have a car to get to work becuase there is no public transportation. At that point, it becomes non-voluntary.

    Let's say you are driving down the road at about 10 MPH over the speed limit, then suddenly I whizz by you going much faster. You will not be happy, and I am endangering the lives of you and everyone else on the highway. Why shouldn't I be punished for breaking the rules?
    I saved this one for last. Who is responsible for enforcing the rules? I can't just go and pull you over and write a ticket. That is the job of the police. Last I saw, there has been no law passed turning enforcement of traffic laws over to some private company for its own profit.

    [ Parent ]
    Governors are dangerous (4.50 / 2) (#32)
    by sigwinch on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 08:35:43 PM EST

    Sometimes you need to go fast (passing, medical emergency, evading attack). A governor can put you in a dangerous situation when you have the least ability to deal with it.

    --
    I don't want the world, I just want your half.
    [ Parent ]

    Baby steps. (none / 0) (#39)
    by Hannibal Lecter on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 12:44:48 PM EST

    I don't really see a voluntary service as "Big Brother" because it is not mandatory to rent a car. When the government of wherever you live starts forcing GPS to be installed in every car so that they can track you and see if you are speeding, then we have a privacy issue, but not when you are renting other people's property.

    You are correct, but the former is just a baby step to lead to the latter. So we'll rationalize until we get there. We'll say it's "ok" to have this if [insert conditions here] until the conditions are fractured. And then when there isn't anything that can be done about it, we'll rationalize why the conditions were fractured and why it was probably for our own good.

    "And all I lov'd--I lov'd alone--" --Edgar Allan Poe

    [ Parent ]
    man, you are way off (none / 0) (#43)
    by Ender Ryan on Mon Jun 25, 2001 at 09:07:19 AM EST

    1. speed limit != safe
    2. governors == extremely dangerous

    It is quite obvious that this company is doing this to hit customers with extra fees.


    -
    Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

    We are Kuro5hin!


    [ Parent ]

    Loss of privacy (3.00 / 3) (#17)
    by strlen on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 04:15:34 PM EST

    Yeah, loss of privacy is always sad. I could see their reasons: check out what these people did to rental cars.But they should at least have warned you in the first place, and perhaps given you an option to instead pay a higher fee and not have that kind of surveilance equipment.

    --
    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    I don't get it (3.66 / 6) (#18)
    by DeadBaby on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 04:18:27 PM EST

    What exactly is the point of giving people your money, not reading a contract that you sign and then being upset that you broke it because you were too stupid to read it? If you read it and decide up front you're not happy with the terms you can find another rental car fairly easily, if you read it AND give them your business AND break the rules AND bitch about it you're really asking for it.

    Private businesses should be able to dictate the terms of service for their products/services and consumers should be able to refuse such products/services based on the same information. The only scary part about this story to me is the fact people are even upset, it comes across as a "wahhhh, mommy caught me with my hand in the cookie jar now I'm sulking in my room" type story instead of a "Isn't it scary someone is too stupid to read a legal binding contract" but the worst part is, I believe the intended point was to demonize this rental car service for trying to product their property.

    It seems like everyone who is suddenly so pro "freedom" these days is very anti-freedom when it comes back to them personally.

    "Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
    You'd rather... (2.00 / 2) (#22)
    by jd on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 04:52:33 PM EST

    ...the proposed UK system, where cars calculate their maximum speed via GPS and a built-in road map, then BLOCK you from exceeding the speed limit?

    Either way, if you know what you're signing, it's too late to complain when you've burned your fingers. And if you didn't, why not? If the legalese is too complex, hire from someone who is willing to be clear about the rules. If you hire from tricksters, don't complain when you're tricked.

    I find this about as disturbing as that lady who sued McDonalds for serving her hot coffee, when that was what she asked for.

    The McDonalds Coffee thing ... (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by morven on Sun Jun 24, 2001 at 03:45:27 PM EST

    McD did a very good job spinning this story so that everyone thinks that they were wrongfully sued. That's false.

    The courts took full account of the fact that the woman did do a dumb thing (by holding a styrofoam coffee cup between her knees while trying to get the lid off to add cream and sugar).

    However, the consequences to her were much worse than they should have been, and that's why damages were awarded.

    If you spill coffee on you, you expect it to hurt a bit. You don't expect to have to go to the ER. You don't expect to have third degree burns.

    Quoted from http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm

    "A vascular surgeon determined that Liebeck suffered full thickness burns (or third-degree burns) over 6 percent of her body, including her inner thighs, perineum, buttocks, and genital and groin areas. She was hospitalized for eight days, during which time she underwent skin grafting."

    McDonalds knowingly served its coffee at temperatures which were much higher than the norm, and temperatures it knew were dangerous to its customers.

    Coffee at the temperature served by McDonalds at that time was hot enough to cause a full-thickness (third degree) burn in two to seven seconds. Ouch indeed.

    [ Parent ]
    EULA Syndrome (3.00 / 1) (#24)
    by jabber on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 05:27:01 PM EST

    I don't know quite what to think about this.

    One the one hand, I am pissed off. I would hate to have that sort of thing happen to me. Since technology keeps racing ahead, and since I'm a greedy little bastard, I look forward to the fun toys that are to come. Also, I realize that integration carries with it interesting side-effects.

    Even if I never rent a GPS equipped car, GPS is in my future via integration with my cell-phone. "To better protect me in the event of an emergency" is the justification, but there are other advantages.

    Would you pay 50% less for auto insurance, if you were to permit the insurance company to monitor your whereabouts by means of your cell? Busted! That is if you exceed the speed limit. Watch those rates ramp right up for driving more than is 'nominal', out of state, too fast...

    This brings me to the 'other hand'... The man did sign a contract in which the consequences of speeding were spelled out. He signed it without reading it thoroughly. He mindlessly clicked OK. How many times have you done that?

    Here's the scenario... Cell phones with GPS become ubiquitous in the next few years. Employers, insurance (auto, health, life) agencies, all start embedding monitoring clauses in the finest of fine print of their "more affordable" contracts...

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

    Pay fines or risk life, your choice. (3.33 / 3) (#33)
    by golek on Fri Jun 22, 2001 at 09:20:42 PM EST

    "It's safe to say this policy saves lives," he said.

    This is statement is total B.S. On Atlanta's freeways traffic normally flows at about 80 mph (when there is light traffic). If you are going 5-10 mph less that 79 mph, you ARE a safety hazard to not only yourself, but to others on the road. So this policy gives the driver a difficult choice; put the lives of yourself and others at risk, or possibly pay hundreds of dollars in fees.

    This has NOTHING to do with privacy... or safety. (3.75 / 4) (#36)
    by Blarney on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 01:29:04 AM EST

    What we have here is not a sneaky clever spying plot. What we have here is a sneaky little fee, hidden in the fine print. It's a hidden price increase, a classic scam. Why did they fine the man $450? Because that's all he had in his bank account. Had there been more in the account, they would have taken more.

    Our plaintiff walked into some generic car rental shop (called ACME, no doubt because the owners were too stupid to actually come up with a decent name for their business), asked how much it would cost to rent a car, and found the price was acceptible. He was handed a contract. An intelligent, rationally paranoid person would have read the agreement carefully, torn it into little pieces, thrown it at the offerer of said contract's face, and cursed him for being a lying cheating git, finally storming out to the sound of the clerk's pathetic sniveling of "I just work here, I don't make the rules!".

    What's wrong with the contract? Well, it exposed Mr. Plaintiff here to an OPEN-ENDED UNLIMITED LIABILITY! Anybody who signs such a thing without being coerced is a fool. Shit, I think ACME was extra nice to the guy, considering what he agreed to. Suppose that he had driven at 80 mph for an hour on an open highway, which is not an unreasonable speed or necessarily even something that will annoy the police. He'd pay $150 * (60 minutes / 2 minutes) = $4500. It's their word against his whether he drove such a speed or not, and they have the Magic Scientific GPS Machine to back them up in court. Suppose that he drove for 10 hours at such a speed. Talk about easy money - hey, they could let him keep the damned car and still walk away ahead.

    ACME had no intention here that ANYBODY would actually obey the speed limit specified on the agreement. They deliberately placed this provision into the contract so that they could levy enormous charges on the renter which had not been made clear to him before he rented the car. All their reasons about "stolen cars" and "safety" are a big pile of hooey. This is just a scam like any other. Even if you do start seeing GPS machines mounted in rental cars for the purpose of tracking them, no reputable company is going to go around doing this. They wouldn't be reputable very long! I really doubt that anybody rents from this dipshit little ACME outfit twice, but a big nationwide chain like Hertz needs repeat business. This is just a classic con-game, raising the price after the mark has already agreed.

    If the plaintiff has a case at all, it won't be for privacy invasion. It will be for fraud.

    +1 FP (none / 0) (#38)
    by kwsNI on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 11:52:06 AM EST

    Just because of the "Already seen it on /. comments" and the "This MLP doesn't have any meat to the story" comments.

    kwsNI
    I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it. -Jack Handy
    Sounds good to me. (none / 0) (#40)
    by rawg on Sat Jun 23, 2001 at 01:39:05 PM EST

    I dont think people should drive faster than the limit anyway. I never drive over 65 here. Every time some idiot driving 90 passes me and swerves real close to me to tell me that I'm going to slow, I get pissed. I just cross my fingers and hope that I get to see them flip their stupid race car.

    On that note, I think that the speed should be raised to 100mph, and I think that driving drunk should be legal. Doing drugs should be legal, and so should suicide. Then we would really cut down on this excess population problem.

    Or we can just have another war.

    GPS? (none / 0) (#45)
    by Scrutinizer on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 02:58:34 PM EST

    This sounds like a job for - DYKEMAN!!

    (Oops - Non-PC! But "Diagonal-CutterMAN" just doesn't... well, CUT it...)

    ---
    The careful application of terror is also a form of communication.



    They're watching you... | 45 comments (27 topical, 18 editorial, 0 hidden)
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