AP is carrying a distressing story that CDC is working with General Motors’ OnStar service to speed provision of emergency responders to serious car accidents. What’s distressing about it? My immediate reaction, which I believe is irrational but was natural and spontaneous: Now they’ll know where everyone is all the time. Big Brother. It’s distressing because of what it says about my attitude toward this government: I don’t trust them. At all. I don’t believe they have my interests at heart. Even more distressing is that many of you will think that’s a perfectly normal and natural — and correct — way to think about government. I don’t agree and am dismayed I reacted that way.
First, let’s look at what the story is about:
On Wednesday, the automaker [General MOtors] was scheduled to announce a partnership with U.S. health officials to create guidelines, expected in 2008, for the use of real-time crash data to help emergency services provide a more targeted response to those injured in a car accident.
GM’s OnStar system alerts emergency rescue officials when an air bag deploys or the vehicle is struck in a moderate to severe crash. Subscribers can also receive driving directions, roadside assistance and other services.
Emergency responders could benefit from the OnStar system because its sensors transmit real-time data pinpointing where a vehicle was struck, whether it rolled over or if it was hit several times. (AP)
This is all good. This could same my life or someone I care about. It could save the lives of people I don’t know. Yes, it could save lives. What’s not to like? That’s what’s so distressing. The spontaneous paranoia, some of which might even be rational. If I have a car crash I want them to know where I am to send help. If I think (and say out loud) their administration is a metaphorical trainwreck, however, I don’t want them to know where I am at all times, or even some of the time.
There are always trade-offs. Some I’m willing to live with, and, when I reflect on it, this is one of them. The system will be voluntary, at least for the foreseeable future, because, while by next year most GM cars will be OnStar equipped, after the first year you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription fee ($200/yr. or $17/month). When I finally get rid of my 11 year old piece-of-shit car and I buy one where this or something like it is an option, I’ll take it. I’d also buy it for my children. I’ll take my chances and work to improve them by trying to elect a government who will respect my civil liberties, unlike the current one.
On the other hand, I suppose if I don’t subscribe it could still be “active” in a stealth mode. That way I’d get all the disadvantages and none of the advantages.
Distressing thought. I’ve got to get a grip.