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Carjacking Tracking from Cook Co. Sheriff

3 months 1 week ago - 3 months 1 week ago #1 by Justin Kerr

One of our readers and subscribers sent in an interesting note about a program he just signed up for: the vehicle tracking service from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart .

This is interesting in that it leverages a recently built car's built-in automation and communications features to allow law enforcement to track the automobile if it is taken in a carjacking. I started poking at some of the details of the program, available via the above link, including how the tracking program will only be used after the car owner reports it has been stolen. (Participants also agree to share data with other law enforcement agencies as part of the program.)

As ongoing readers of the McKinley Park News might surmise, I'm a privacy geek, and the area of automotive privacy is very interesting, both with the systems that all modern cars come with, and all the surveillance and monitoring systems that are persistently active (Automated License Plate Reader cameras, cell phone location data, tire pressure sensors, etc. etc. etc.).

Although I could see the utility in the tracking program, especially if you happen to be carjacked, I've still shied away from all systems that car companies use to connect with their products and customers. (There's an interesting list at .)

A big part of my worry is that so much of this is non-standardized and unregulated, and the data that can be slurped from your smart car (and the devices you happen to connect to it) is massive. Personally, I'm worried about the blanket sharing with other law enforcement agencies ... These types of systems might not follow best practices for data operations or user privacy, or all the other systems to which this data might be passed along. The private third-party access implications are even more horrific: e.g. getting locked out of the car you've paid for because you haven't paid the monthly fee for the heated seats feature.

I can appreciate the convenience, but for me, the idea of giving any outside entity remote control over my car (and in-depth access to all kinds of private data) isn't something I'm comfortable with. Still, I'd appreciate an open-source/open-access alternative that delivers this service and convenience. I know some others may feel differently: Share your thoughts here as replies to this message!
Last edit: 3 months 1 week ago by Justin Kerr.

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