EU wants to give police the power to remotely disable any car

By on February 3, 2014, 1:30 PM
police, cars, eu, vehicles, remote kill switch

The European Union police are reportedly developing a system that would allow officers to remotely kill the engine of any can from a central control facility. The technology for such a system already exists and is even baked into select vehicles as part of their navigation system but the EU is looking to make it a mandated system according to a report from The Telegraph.

The idea is that a remote kill switch could help stop deadly high-speed car chases and put an end to current techniques like spiking a vehicle’s tires.

As you can likely imagine, reaction to the news has been extremely negative. One member of the British parliament questioned what might happen if the system was triggered accidentally, say, on a vehicle that was traveling on the highway. What if it caused a fatal crash? Who would be liable? Or even worse, what if the system was hacked or a rogue employee decided to kill every car at once?

Safety aside, concerns about invasion of privacy and personal freedom also persist. Another member of parliament said the price citizens pay for surrendering their democratic sovereignty is that they are governed by an unaccountable secretive clique.

Documents show the technology for police use hasn’t yet been developed but considering that auto makers already have the capability, it likely wouldn’t be hard to law enforcement to build their own system or even license systems from vehicle manufacturers.

If successful, a standardized system could be required within the next six years.




User Comments: 44

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JC713 JC713 said:

Great idea. What if the technology gets abused though?

wastedkill said:

Lets do it we will see car "Accidents" increase tenfold, Plus who wouldnt mind police having control over who dies and who doesnt.

stansfield stansfield said:

The EU commisars are a bunch of unelected, corrupt ****** with their snouts heavily in the trough!!

The majority of people in the UK want out but our own elected representatives( also with their snouts in the trough) in the true spirit of democracy, refuse to give us a referendum on the subject.

This is just another of the crackpot ideas that the EU periodically come up with and no doubt our own parliament, in spite of saying there is no way it could happen, will eventually agree and even embellish the idea!!!

Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

As with so many things, used properly would be fantastic, except human nature and governments being as they are it will end up being abused, hacked into by 'the bad guys' (when that isn't your government). It's a shame

Seventh Reign Seventh Reign said:

It really depends on how it works. If they can make it kill the engine without disabling Power Steering or Braking, then its a great idea. If they did it on MY car It would kill someone. When I lose power I lose Steering and Braking completely. I'm not sure how it would work on a newer car with electronic steering.

treetops treetops said:

Probably costs to much.

1 person liked this | madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Not to comment on the disservice this would cause to every driver in the EU (as everyone else will), but if this is a killswitch for the engine, does that basically means the car is coasting after the engine is shut down? There would be no sudden reduction of speed or sudden swerve, as the cars steering and braking potential would still be under the driver's control. I'd think the driver would then be liable as it would be no different than the engine dying (for various other reasons) or running out of gas while on the road. Now if currently available systems apply break power and what have you I can see the safety concern more clearly.

The argument of the potential of the system being compromised by a malicious entity is still valid of course, as are the questions of privacy and freedoms (whatever they spectfically may be).

1 person liked this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

This is, in fact, a system expressly designed to give law enforcement control over privately owned property. They can gift wrap it in whatever pretty rhetoric they feel the public will accept, but it is what it is. Glad I don't live in the EU.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Enjoy this taste of our future:

[video embed]

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This is not a good idea. But if we are too chicken shit to fight back, this is our future.

Guest said:

While they're at it they can lock up my private bits and unlock it when appropriate.

Guest said:

Why not remotely kill the driver?

BlueDrake said:

This is not a good idea. But if we are too chicken shit to fight back, this is our future.

It honestly will be our future, despite our attempts to say otherwise. The mass is easily swayed by simple terms, since they don't have to think. Even if you make it otherwise complex, they will explain part of what it does. Not it in it's full scale because if you do that, people might actually speak out about what's going on.

Doesn't matter what goes on in the EU, other places will happily adopt it of course. As we have seen across the globe, be it through artificial or real means of enforcing it. Something happens and suddenly next day, things will be put in place, that could be sitting on shelves for months or years ahead of time. This is just one step in handing over power, to keep civilians in line be there an actual issue.

Just take a look at the past, and use it for your future.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

This just makes me wish people weren't stupid enough to buy digital cars in the first place.

Since half of you seem to think "driver-less cars", are a good idea, then get used to the idea this bull s*** comes right along with it.

Ooooo, "but we'll be safer in a driver-less car". Here's another news flash, the "human herd" needs a bit of "thinning out". Let the highways take care of it for us. "Survival of the fittest", always has a place, in driver training class, and in my cold black heart.

Crap, bizarre, "legal" strategies like this, makes me wish I had my '57 "analog" Chevy back, big time.

A quick question, do you people in the EU vote these self pleasing, inbred fools into office, or are they holdovers from feudal monarchies?

Anyway, I don't think they should p*ssy foot around by disabling cars, just go "all in", and legalize drone strikes on speeders and fleeing vehicles.....(y)

MilwaukeeMike said:

This is, in fact, a system expressly designed to give law enforcement control over privately owned property. They can gift wrap it in whatever pretty rhetoric they feel the public will accept, but it is what it is. Glad I don't live in the EU.

True, but put on your lawyer hat for a moment. If you are driving a car at a police officer with the threat to run him down and the cop shoots you, he's not guilty of shooting an unarmed assailant. In that case the car was a deadly weapon. if you're driving crazy drunk at 100mph down the freeway that's a terrible risk to public safety. Does that mean this is ok? I don't think so, but I can understand the argument for it.

Not a big deal anyway, it would never fly in the US. Any politician who brings this up would get auto industry lobbyists camped out on the front lawn. New car sales will nose dive if they come pre-installed with cop shutoffs.

But.... for the convicted felon recently released, perhaps it's not a bad idea. Just like the in-car breathalyzer, maybe this tech can only be used to restrict those who've proven they need some restriction.

1 person liked this | p51d007 said:

You know it will get hacked, then someone will shut down a vehicle, or worse, over ride the brakes or something stupid.

Next, they will want the ability to have a warning buzzer go off if you are over the speed limit, and if you continue it will shut down the system, and automatically send you a ticket.

I don't TRUST law enforcement or governments to do the responsible thing, since they haven't demonstrated it yet.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Probably costs to much.

Relative to the cost of production of cars, it wouldn't cost much at all. We've already seen this scale of IT infrastructure is childs play for a government, let alone the EU.

I think it is inevitable that it or something similar will happen anyway despite public fallout. Minority Report style - automated vehicle navigation and police controlled killswitches.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

True, but put on your lawyer hat for a moment. If you are driving a car at a police officer with the threat to run him down and the cop shoots you, he's not guilty of shooting an unarmed assailant. In that case the car was a deadly weapon.
As an American where we supposedly have the "right to bear arms", I object to people only giving police the power to protect themselves and pass judgment on who lives or dies.

I would rather see this topic go forward than see more headlines with cops making kill decision that no one else is allowed to make. If this system is put in place, I can guarantee there will be a black market for systems that are not effected.

On a downside:

I can picture headlines as they say "Death while driving to hospital, results of vehicle being remotely shutdown by authorities".

Guest said:

It is not the first and certainly not the stupidest eu idea. What worries me the most is the fact that I don't see each and every person angry at this idea and that even some people start to speculate if it would be possible and/or in any way good.

Wake up people! Effectively if someone OTHER THAN YOU can legally gain control over your own car, it means that you DO NOT OWN A CAR! If you are not making decisions regarding yourself (For example in your car) - YOU ARE A SLAVE. That is the reality of the situation.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Wake up people! Effectively if someone OTHER THAN YOU can legally gain control over your own car, it means that you DO NOT OWN A CAR! If you are not making decisions regarding yourself (For example in your car) - YOU ARE A SLAVE. That is the reality of the situation.
I'm not sure where you are from but here in the US, we do own the vehicle. But driving it is where we are given the privilege. Driving is considered a privilege, because we don't own the highway. It is a privilege that can be revoked if misused. The privilege is usually revoked by a judge, but if you are caught showing your ass on the highway, I have no problem with your privilege being revoked on the spot. Your comment about being a "SLAVE", get used to the fact that you are a "SLAVE" to your own self control. If you fail at controlling yourself, others will step in and help you along the way. Even if that means taking away your right, to live as a free person. We are already being told what we can and can not do in public, how is this any worse.

Guest said:

Shutting the engine down is problematic. Most power-assisted braking systems utilize engine vacuum to lessen the effort required to depress the brake pedal and stop the vehicle, with the majority of those that don't use a vacuum booster being of the "hydro-boost" variety. Those use power-steering fluid pressure to reduce braking effort, and thus also require a running engine to function at peak efficiency. There is a resevoir/accumulator built into both systems, but they only allow for two, possibly as many as three brake applications before being depleted.

Power steering of the conventional, hydraulic type requires a running engine to function while EPAS (Electronic Power Assist Steering) may or may not shut down when the engine does, depending on the make and model.

MilwaukeeMike said:

As an American where we supposedly have the "right to bear arms", I object to people only giving police the power to protect themselves and pass judgment on who lives or dies.

I would rather see this topic go forward than see more headlines with cops making kill decision that no one else is allowed to make. If this system is put in place, I can guarantee there will be a black market for systems that are not effected.

On a downside:

I can picture headlines as they say "Death while driving to hospital, results of vehicle being remotely shutdown by authorities".

You must not have read the rest of my post. So you would be against a remote shutdown device being installed in the car of a say a 4 time convicted drunk driver? [link] , and I wouldn't care at all if his car could be remotely turned off.

Why do you assume because something exists (like remote shutoff) it must be used in the most extreme way possible?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

You must not have read the rest of my post. So you would be against a remote shutdown device being installed in the car of a say a 4 time convicted drunk driver? [link] , and I wouldn't care at all if his car could be remotely turned off.

Why do you assume because something exists (like remote shutoff) it must be used in the most extreme way possible?

Thats not my assumption. My assumption is that it will be misused, like everything else is. It was the reference you made about the cop killing that sparked a controversy on my part. But then we have already been here, I don't want to dredge up an old thread. I still maintain the notion that cars can be shut down without resorting to killing the driver. If this is what it takes to save lives, I am all for it. I just can't help but think of how it will be misused.

2 people like this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

You must not have read the rest of my post. So you would be against a remote shutdown device being installed in the car of a say a 4 time convicted drunk driver? [link] , and I wouldn't care at all if his car could be remotely turned off....[ ]...
This presents the same conundrum as using "chemical castration" on prior sex offenders. In either case, it is akin to, "locking the barn after the horse is stolen". Even at that being said, it is paramount for a free society to maintain an individual's right to choose, whatever the risks may be, before any crime has been committed. So no, please don't put this power in the hands of the police before I've done anything wrong.

Mick Jagger said, "just as every cop is a criminal", (and some stuff after that). Therefore people need to be acutely aware, that the police are loaded with ego, power, and control issues, and many of them are simply dying to inflict them on you. Perhaps more so, than a majority of the population. Otherwise, they might have become nurses or teachers instead.

So, if "Officer MulGoon" didn't get it wet the night before, and you come "blasting through at 5 over", you might just find yourself piloting dead stick in the middle of the freeway.:eek:

dcnc123 dcnc123 said:

Kill the engine of any can?

Guest said:

Disabled to you all means dead? why not a kill switch on the transmission? why do some people not think of the obvious?

Guest said:

@captain cranky, read above...

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Disabled to you all means dead? why not a kill switch on the transmission? why do some people not think of the obvious?
I'm going to assume you are not a mechanic. The obvious and most logical location, would be the Engine Control Module. By implementing remote control of the ECM, the speed of the vehicle can be governed (pun not intended, that is the term used for controlling the max speed of a vehicle) until it is safe to shut the vehicle down completely.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Disabled to you all means dead? why not a kill switch on the transmission? why do some people not think of the obvious?

@captain cranky, readabove...
Do you know anything about automotive technology, or do you just want people to pay attention to you?

With auto ECM modules in their present state, you'd probably need an EM pulse weapon to shut one down.

Now, to implement any of this nonsense, you would have to pre, and retro fit vehicles to allow external control.. Which means getting manufacturers on board with this BS. I also see a criminal cottage industry springing up, in excising all this crap to get around the issue of external control.

As far as "killing the transmission" goes, to the best of my knowledge most transmissions are still controlled by mechanical linkage. With mechanical linkage, you'd have to physically knock a transmission out of gear.

As far as "governing" the speed goes, I think the police would just bring you to a stop. This to avoid some stupid s*** happening, like the famous, "OJ Simpson low speed chase".

Off hand I'd say, today's crop of whiny, lazy, X-Box dependent, cyber fools, would most likely buy into, "satellite assisted diagnostics", since it's likely they don't know know how to open the hood of the car they have now. And there you have it, enter, "the backdoor trojan", for police control.

There's more, but that's all I'm willing to type to humor you.

misor misor said:

When governments become authoritarians, Anonymous will rise. maybe the movie V for Vendetta is a glimpse of what may become.

Guest said:

That's far too powerful power if you give police such privilege..

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

When governments become authoritarians, Anonymous will rise. maybe the movie V for Vendetta is a glimpse of what may become.

Was that Natalie Portman or Keira Knightley? They both look alike to me.

Well, save for the fact that Ms.Knightley has a slight overbite.

treetops treetops said:

Relative to the cost of production of cars, it wouldn't cost much at all. We've already seen this scale of IT infrastructure is childs play for a government, let alone the EU.

I think it is inevitable that it or something similar will happen anyway despite public fallout. Minority Report style - automated vehicle navigation and police controlled killswitches.

Yeah but it probably costs more then 10% of the cars out there.

It costs around 500$ to put a breathalyzer in a car, in case you do not know a breathalyzer will turn off your car while you drive it if you do not blow into and pass the breath test. I would guess based off nothing but pure speculation, it would be around 1,000$ to put something like this in a car.

Guest said:

Murdered Journalist Michael Hastings

[video embed]

you can see his car speeding across an intersection

who knows maybe he had no control of the vehicle

Emexrulsier said:

Remember if it can easily be installed it can easily be disabled unless it was built into the engine design from day one.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Yeah but it probably costs more then 10% of the cars out there.

It costs around 500$ to put a breathalyzer in a car, in case you do not know a breathalyzer will turn off your car while you drive it if you do not blow into and pass the breath test. I would guess based off nothing but pure speculation, it would be around 1,000$ to put something like this in a car.

I'd contend your example actually points out that it would cost less than $500 due to economies of scale. The hardware would be far less obtrusive than a breathalyser unit as well and radio hardware chips are extremely cheap.

Guest said:

@captaincranky quote: "to the best of my knowledge"... this.

@cliffordcooley, ever had a transmission go on you? lol its is indeed very simple

davislane1 davislane1 said:

As far as "killing the transmission" goes, to the best of my knowledge most transmissions are still controlled by mechanical linkage. With mechanical linkage, you'd have to physically knock a transmission out of gear.

This is only true of manual transmissions. Automatic boxes are "controlled" by onboard computers to varying degrees (it decides when to shift up/down and, in the case of modern luxury cars, often controls the whole package). Theoretically, this means that they could develop a "kill" switch that simply puts the car into neutral.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

....[ ]....Theoretically, this means that they could develop a "kill" switch that simply puts the car into neutral.
I'm well aware that they could, "develop", external shifting. In fact, I've seen a few luxury auto commercials displaying "paddle shifters". (Tabs on the wheel, a la open wheel racers, which must need power assist). However, it's not here now, and you can't get into to the ECM, as they stand today).

If you want to discuss the whole, "how stupid do you have to be, to willingly go out and buy a new car that the state can control"? Or maybe, "what would equipping cars that could be externally controlled by law enforcement, do to the auto industry in general", I'm here for you....

And remember, even if a person lives the live of Jesus, they're all speeders, every last one of them..

treetops treetops said:

It just doesn't seem that hard to kill switch a car considering they do it every day on any model with whatever system the interlock breathalyzers use. Maybe they simply have switch on the wires going to the distributor?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@cliffordcooley, ever had a transmission go on you? lol its is indeed very simple
Yes I have, I've even rebuilt two or three. And as long as the valve body continues to port fluid to the various clutch assemblies, and the mechanics hold integrity, the vehicle will continue to move. As far as I'm aware there are no electronic governing factors implemented in the valve body of a Transmission, but there are in the Engine Control Module. Why not use what is already implemented? Lets not even mention all the manual transmissions that are strictly mechanical and can not be controlled electronically.

LookinAround LookinAround, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

There's already a Local Area type Network in the car (the CAN bus) that allows the vehicle micro-controllers and electronic devices to communicate with each other. I don't think it would be hard to add a kill switch.

But, keeping it from being hacked by others is a entirely different and daunting task!

Guest said:

@cliffordcooley

this is an easy mod: "as long as the valve body continues to port fluid to the various clutch"

@captiancranky: I do not follow the life of Jesus and yet I have not sped for 10 years, and aside from that fact, what does speeding have to do with this? Let me guess, you are also against the "black boxes", photo traffic monitors, the IRS, your cell phone company and your social insurgence number? You sir are not in control of anything even if you believe you are.

2 people like this | mailpup mailpup said:

Most modern OBD II vehicles have a limp mode which allows the engine to run but barely. The driver can "limp" to a repair shop or at least out of harm's way to the side of the road. Brakes and steering systems still work but the vehicle can't get away from law enforcement. Activating this mode would seem a reasonably "good" solution to some of the problems already brought up.

That said, I am against the idea of more and more government control "for our own good."

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