Unless it goes challenged or repealed by a future federal government, a law recently signed by U.S. President Joe Biden will mandate that all new vehicles sold after 2026 have electronic “kill switches” that could in theory be used by government officials or even hackers to gain control of one’s ride without oversight.
The “kill switch” law was buried deep inside Biden’s pro-LGBT $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that passed late last year. The mandate would not only potentially allow for law enforcement to shut one’s car off, but also track the cars metrics, location, and even possibly passenger load.
The “kill switch” mandate was included under the pretext of supposedly curbing drunk drivers or preventing high-speed chases, which are commonplace in some U.S. states.
However, the potential privacy concerns regarding such technology, as well as mandating it through law, raised the eyebrows of former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr.
He sounded the alarm over Biden’s hidden “kill switch” rule in a Daily Caller opinion piece published in November.
Barr wrote that “kill switches” are a “privacy disaster in the making,” and the law is “disturbingly short on details.”
“What we do know is that the ‘safety’ device must ‘passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired,’” Barr said.
“Everything about this mandatory measure should set off red flares.”
Such “backdoor” kill switches work through cars being connected to wireless networks at all times, including 5G. Many new cars and virtually all-electric cars already come with wireless capability as standard. Indeed, U.S. automotive giant General Motors was an early pioneer of in-car connectivity to the internet well over a decade ago.
Barr wrote that passively monitoring one’s vehicle “suggests the system will always be on and constantly monitoring the vehicle.”
He said that such a system would have to be connected to a car’s operational controls “so as to disable the vehicle either before driving or during, when impairment is detected.”