mez breeze on Tue, 19 Nov 2013 08:52:17 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

<nettime> Renault will remotely lock down electric cars


"For a long time, cars were a symbol of freedom and independence. No
longer. In its  Zoe electric car, car maker Renault apparently has the
ability to remotely prevent the battery from charging. And that’s more
chilling than it sounds.

When you buy a Renault Zoe, the battery isn’t included. Instead, you sign a
rental contract for the battery with the car maker. In a Zoe owner’s forum,
user Franko30 reports<>that
the contract contains a clause giving Renault the right to prevent
your battery from charging at the end of the rental period. According to an
Der Spiegel, the company may also do this when you fall behind on
the rent for the battery.

This means that Renault has some way of remotely controlling the battery
charging process. According to the Spiegel article, the Zoe (and most or
all other electric cars) collect reams of data on how you use them, and
send this data off to the manufacturer without your knowledge. This data
tells the company where you are going, when, and how fast, where you charge
the battery, and many other things besides. We already knew that Tesla was
doing this with its cars since the company’s very public
spat<>with a journalist
who reviewed one of their cars for the New York Times.
Seeing the same thing in a mass market manufacturer like Renault makes
clear just how dangerous this trend is.

This sort of thing fits well into the dystopian picture which Cory Doctorow
paints in his 2011 talk “The coming war on General
(which you really must watch, if you haven’t already), where he argues that
“we don’t have cars anymore, we have computers we ride in”. The question
then becomes who is in control of this
You, the manufacturer, or someone else?

If there is a mechanism to remotely control what your car does, some will
make use of this mechanism at some point. This could be the manufacturer,
shutting down your car as you fall behind on the battery rent because you
just lost your job, meaning that it becomes harder for you to find work. It
could be the government, compelling the manufacturer to do its bidding. In
his forum post, Franko30 predicts that at some point, governments may
simply ask car manufacturers to block charging near controversial political
events (e.g. a G8 summit), in order to prevent you from participating in
demonstrations. Or it could be any random criminal out
gaining access to this mechanism by bribing a Renault employee.

The only way out of this is to stay away from cars and other computers that
you can’t fully control; and to build systems that put users in charge. At
the Free Software Foundation Europe, we are empowering and supporting
people who build systems where you, the user,  are in control. Please help
us <> with a donation."

| <>

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime>  is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info:
#  archive: contact: