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Transportation Idle

Hit-and-Run Suspect Arrested After Her Own Car Calls Cops (yahoo.com) 423

Trachman writes: This is a fascinating article about hit and run suspect arrested after her own car reported the crash to authorities. The crash system activates when sensors on the car detect a sudden change of speed or movement. An emergency call is automatically placed to local first responders who can pinpoint the precise location of the incident using information supplied by the vehicle's GPS unit. An audio recording released by the authorities reveals how Bernstein tried to convince the dispatcher that there was no cause for concern. When the dispatcher asks what'd happened, Bernstein responds, "Ma'am, there's no problem. Everything was fine." Suspecting there was more to the situation than Bernstein was letting on, the dispatcher responds: "OK, but your car called in saying you'd been involved in an accident. It doesn't do that for no reason. Did you leave the scene of an accident?"
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Hit-and-Run Suspect Arrested After Her Own Car Calls Cops

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  • by jamesjw ( 213986 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @09:25PM (#51077503) Homepage

    It looks like you've been in an accident. I will call an appropriate representative of the local constabulary.

  • Snitching devices (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    We live in a world where our own cars, our own online history, our credit data, all snitch on us

    Unless we live in a cave inside a dense jungle somewhere, we no longer have the luxury to live *OUR OWN* lives

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07, 2015 @09:33PM (#51077533)

      It wasn't "her own" life that she hit with her car, so maybe her car SHOULD be reporting this to the authorities.

      • Some day the crime will be 'inciting a riot' through writing an insightful article, or annoying a politician, or being a member of an opposition party. Your car's systems can be instructed to lie, you know; it just doesn't occur to geeks that computers can be told to fake a result.

        • Your car's systems can be instructed to lie, you know; it just doesn't occur to geeks that computers can be told to fake a result.

          Sure it does. I drive a Volkswagen!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, it's just terrible when I pick the high end car with too many gadgets and as a result can't commit the crimes I want. Can't believe I have to turn off my phone or leave it at home whenever I want to go murder or rape someone, completely invasive inconvenience.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Just wait until it's turning in you in for stating opinions which run contrary to the government mandated ones and you're being on trial for hate speech, heresy, blasphemy, or whatever thought-crime charges they decide to come up with.

        Slippery slope and all that.

    • This is one of the reasons I'm happy to keep on paying whatever it costs to repair my increasingly-clanky old SUV. At least it's not spying on me; it's actually mine.

      • by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @09:49PM (#51077641)

        This is one of the reasons I'm happy to keep on paying whatever it costs to repair my increasingly-clanky old SUV.

        Because it's such a bummer to do a hit and run and get caught.

        • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @09:56PM (#51077691)

          Not wanting your devices snitching != thinking it's moral to leave the scene of an accident when someone is hurt.

          • by Jeremi ( 14640 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @10:41PM (#51077977) Homepage

            I don't think it's quite fair to call this "snitching" -- the feature worked as advertised, performing the function that the driver had agreed to have it perform, and likely even paid extra for. It's not like this monitoring service was installed behind her back or without her permission.

            If she didn't have the foresight to realize that her summon-help-after-an-accident feature would also make it more difficult to get away with a hit-and-run, that's on her, not on the car.

        • This is one of the reasons I'm happy to keep on paying whatever it costs to repair my increasingly-clanky old SUV.

          Because it's such a bummer to do a hit and run and get caught.

          Ah, the "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear" mentality.

          How has that worked out for everyone who has lived under governments that have pushed that line? Or parents? Or significant-others? Or bosses? Or law-enforcement? Or any other authority figure?

          Wanting privacy and doing something illegal are not the same thing. The trick is figuring out how to prevent the latter without sacrificing the former.

          • This person did something illegal, the car did was it was programmed to do, and they got caught. Show me an example, real-world, where a car calls the authorities and the person is unjustly imprisoned as a result.

            It's complete hyperbole to call this "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear". It's not the same thing at all.

            • by dunkindave ( 1801608 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2015 @12:16AM (#51078399)

              This person did something illegal, the car did was it was programmed to do, and they got caught. Show me an example, real-world, where a car calls the authorities and the person is unjustly imprisoned as a result.

              It's complete hyperbole to call this "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear". It's not the same thing at all.

              The thread was about living "in a world where our own cars, our own online history, our credit data, all snitch on us", which somebody responded with "I'm happy to keep on paying whatever it costs to repair my increasingly-clanky old SUV. At least it's not spying on me; it's actually mine". They are talking about the loss of privacy such monitoring technology causes, and other such consequences, not the criminal actions of this lady. While snitch can mean to disclose criminal or immoral activity, its dictionary definition is "to snatch or steal; pilfer; to turn informer; tattle", and I think the meaning of 'spying' is self-explanatory. A car that tells Ford that I have been using a non-Ford service center for my oil changes is "snitching" on me. A car that tells the cell phone company, and therefore anyone with access to their records, where it is at all times, via cell tower logs is "snitching" on me (you do realize this feature works by having an always-on cell phone system in the car, right?) Whether what I am doing is legal, or illegal, it is still snitching, and destroying a facet of my privacy. Just because the person in this story was caught by a technology she may or may not have understood or agreed to (see article about how it is a standard feature now on Fords and the EU will make it mandatory on cars there) doesn't mean there are not other concerns about such technologies "in a world where our own cars, our own online history, our credit data, all snitch on us".

              Having my car travel records tell my wife I went to such-and-such store the week before Christmas might ruin the surprise. Having her see the credit card charge for the honeymoon cruise I was hoping to surprise her with, oh well, too bad? Typing a website on the computer and having it suggest/autocomplete to another site about how to escape an abusive relationship, not good for the abused partner.

              Now, instead of a significant other, how about a nosy government, or ISP/cell provider willing to sell you out for a few bucks from advertisers. You are suddenly getting junk mail for that little (LEGAL) problem you have, and now everyone in the house knows too. Too bad you checked the agenda for the AA meeting while at work, since now they are getting junk mail sent to you at your work address about that problem too. Oh, you were in the neighborhood where a crime occurred around the same time (according to your car), sounds like probable cause, better come down the station for a few hours while we ask you some questions. Don't worry, you will get it all settled (maybe), and lose a few hours of your life. After all, you didn't do anything illegal, did you?

              But don't worry, since I can't show "an example, real-world, where a car calls the authorities and the person is unjustly imprisoned as a result", there must be nothing to worry about "in a world where our own cars, our own online history, our credit data, all snitch on us", right? No innocent person has ever gone to jail or prison on misleading circumstantial evidence, right? Or been tasered or shot, right? Right?

              Still sound like hyperbole?

              BTW: My vehicle is older than Mars Saxman's, and probably has five times+ as many miles as yours (assuming national averages). I actually like being able to work on my own car, and it's cool to refer to the mileage by what fraction of a million it is. Having it not snitch is a side-benefit.

            • by Endymion ( 12816 ) <slashdot...org@@@thoughtnoise...net> on Tuesday December 08, 2015 @12:31AM (#51078447) Homepage Journal

              Hyperbole? Only if "call the authorities" is the only thing that spyware like this does. Given the news of the last few years, you should know that there are a lot more risks from spyware than a simple broken crash sensor.

              As for your insistence on seeing an "example, real world" - why is it that apologists like you always freak out any time someone suggest that at problem needs to be fixed before it injures someone? Are you only willing to care about something after someone has their life ruined? Are you so suspicious of others that you won't believe them when they point out problems?

              Beliefs like this - a just-world hypothesis [wikipedia.org] - is one of the key problem of the modern world. Stop giving the benefit of the doubt when it it isn't deserved.

            • by sjames ( 1099 )

              Car is loaded with forbidden plants and is involved in a single car accident.

              Two parties in a fender bender, nobody hurt, agree that the fault is equal and part amicably. Cops ticked off that they didn't get to salt the wounds with a few tickets.

            • How would you know if anyone's car falsely colluded with police to fabricate evidence? By definition meaningless. Once it's possible, it will be done. It's like trying to prove you've been spied on so you can sue for being spied on. You CAN'T.
              What would stop a car, momentarily overriden and driven by a hostile, from being driven into a crowd, then driven away, for instance?

          • How has that worked out for everyone who has lived under governments that have pushed that line?

            Why don't you ask some? Tell us which of your freedoms have been denied you that you, personally didn't willingly give away.

          • Wanting privacy and doing something illegal are not the same thing. The trick is figuring out how to prevent the latter without sacrificing the former.

            And that is why we have privacy laws that are a companion to technologies that can monitor us. And may it always be so.

            But when you get in a car and drive on a road that your fellow taxpayers paid to have constructed, you have to accept that a certain level of scrutiny of your actions will occur. Get over it.

          • "Ah, the "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear" mentality."

            No. It's the old "Don't be a shitbag who hits and runs, and you've got nothing to fear" mentality. Most people don't have a problem with technology that catches people who committed actual crimes, that have actual victims, especially when it was the result of a system performing as advertised when a person chose to have that system installed. Also, you seem to be unaware of this, but there is no "Right to hit and run without

            • by dunkindave ( 1801608 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2015 @12:40AM (#51078481)

              Also, you seem to be unaware of this, but there is no "Right to hit and run without consequence."

              Blatant strawman. I never said that, nor do I believe it.

              No. It's the old "Don't be a shitbag who hits and runs, and you've got nothing to fear" mentality.

              If you never do hit-and-run, you have nothing to fear? No worries about your car constantly reporting its location to the cell provider which can be accessed by law enforcement, or lawyers in lawsuits, or hackers, or sold ("anonymized" of course) to others, or be intercepted and tracked, or ...? No innocent person has ever suffered negative consequences due to information being misconstrued, or misrepresented, or just wrong? So "you've got nothing to fear"?

              Most people don't have a problem with technology that catches people who committed actual crimes, that have actual victims

              So I assume you will be the first one to volunteer for government cameras to be installed in every room of your house? And be proud to be always wearing a GPS tracker for Mr. Gov? And to install software for the government to monitor all communications from your devices before they get encrypted? I am sure if people did that, the technology would be very effective at catching people that commit actual crimes against actual victims. Am I missing something?

              especially when it was the result of a system performing as advertised when a person chose to have that system installed.

              Given that this thread is about the privacy implications of such technology, and not this specific crime, this comment is off-topic. But even so, are you sure it was a separately paid option, and not part of a common package, or a standard feature of that model of car, or not on an automatic first month/quarter/year free so it is automatically on? Are you sure she knew about it before it activated, and if so, that it would send her GPS location automatically, and not perhaps just establish a phone call with a response person? The problem is people tend to know about the advantages of features since that is what the makers tout, but they normally don't know about the consequences since the makers try to hide those, and the general population doesn't have the tech background to figure it out themselves. Holding up a case of the technology causing a person to be caught breaking the law doesn't dismiss all the privacy concerns that also come with the same technology.

              • by N1AK ( 864906 )

                If you never do hit-and-run, you have nothing to fear? No worries about your car constantly reporting its location to the cell provider which can be accessed by law enforcement, or lawyers in lawsuits, or hackers, or sold ("anonymized" of course) to others, or be intercepted and tracked, or ...? No innocent person has ever suffered negative consequences due to information being misconstrued, or misrepresented, or just wrong? So "you've got nothing to fear"?

                I like how you don't even pause for breathe after

        • I've read about a couple of cases recently where people have crashed their cars into ditches. They've been injured and unable to get out of the car, and have died *slowly* because no-one knew that they were there. A gadget like this might have saved their lives.

      • This. I've got a 15 year old GMC pickup truck. It's getting a little worn around the edges but it actually works fine. Bits fall off from time to time but it really has been pretty cheap on a per mile basis. Looking at the new trucks - they're close to $50K, basically the same truck in terms of engine and frame, have stupid electronic gizmos that I neither need nor want and really don't offer me much. Given the hassle of actually buying a truck, I've pretty much given up on the idea unless the thing dr

        • by karnal ( 22275 )

          Friend of mine bought an F150 with all the bells and whistles. Yup, 50k. What the ever living fuck. It's an F150. Shouldn't that be along the lines of maybe 30k for the high end model?

          And I'm sure you've heard the acronym.. extra money, heh. Bust out another thousand!

          • And God forbid you actually *need* a 4-door diesel dually for towing stuff - you're looking at closer to $70,000.
    • Unless we live in a cave inside a dense jungle somewhere, we no longer have the luxury to live *OUR OWN* lives.

      It's been a least a century since you had the right to live your "own life" on the public roads. You're expected to drive responsibly, obey the traffic laws, maintain your vehicle in a safe condition, and so on.

      • It's been a least a century since you had the right to live your "own life" on the public roads. You're expected to drive responsibly, obey the traffic laws, maintain your vehicle in a safe condition, and so on.

        That's fine if you want to live in a tyrannical nanny state where you can't legally drink a fifth of whiskey and drive home at 100mph on the wrong side of the road.

        But some of us prefer our freedoms, with which we have been endowed by our creators and the Founding Fathers.

    • Re:Snitching devices (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2015 @12:33AM (#51078453)

      We live in a world where our own cars, our own online history, our credit data, all snitch on us

      Unless we live in a cave inside a dense jungle somewhere, we no longer have the luxury to live *OUR OWN* lives

      Technically the car didn't "snitch" on her -- it sensed she was in an accident and called for help. She gave an inconsistent story to the 911 operator and made her suspicious, but the car didn't report any details about the accident.

    • by tibit ( 1762298 )

      You know what? I don't give a flying fuck about the privacy, or lack thereof, of people who commit hit-and-runs. And neither should you. The car did exactly what the society would like the modern car to do. If you pull a hit-and-run on me, I certainly want your car to fucking snitch on you. The car offers a viable technological solution to irresponsibility of drivers. I'm all for it.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @09:39PM (#51077575) Homepage Journal

    On one hand the idea that something that belongs to you handing you over to the authorities is distasteful. On the other hand hit-and-run drivers really suck; one of my college buddies was killed hit by one of them and left to die in ditch. He was just 29.

    Driving is one of those things where your actions can affect others so severely that you have to accept that they're regulated; but this shouldn't be something that just happens because law enforcement suddenly discovers it can. We should, as a society, decide that this is something we are willing to accept and mandatory.

    • I don't know. Oddly, I'm tempted to go with authoritarianism over this. I am a CDL holder. I've driven vehicles from two wheelers to eighteen wheelers.

      Deaths in vehicle collisions are iirc the number one killer in the USA. I don't think 90% of operator license holders should have those licenses. We should focus on mass transit and city architectures that make owning a massive metal missile unnecessary.

      I also know someone who was injured in a pedestrian-vehicle collision. Thankfully, not fatally. Yet

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sandbagger ( 654585 )

      >Driving is one of those things where your actions can affect others so severely that you have to accept that they're regulated

      Thank God that doesn't apply to firearms.

  • Interesting lawsuit potential here, since there may have been no obligation for the "service" to notify authorities when "crash detection" occurs. So does the driver then have any recourse against the service for publishing here data without consent? It seems highly suspect that the service would willy nilly report an accident after talking to the driver and being specifically told that the situation was "all clear."

    In this case, the car did exactly what it was designed to do. The issue is that the servi

    • by plover ( 150551 )

      What safety checks are in place to ensure the service doesn't just randomly manufacture these events?

      If the service "manufactured" an incident, there would be no victim. This lady wasn't arrested simply because her car tattled, she was arrested because there was a hit and run accident with a victim, and her car's data put her at the scene.

    • by Sabriel ( 134364 ) on Monday December 07, 2015 @10:17PM (#51077819)

      According to the Ford website, the feature is only used when you have (1) linked your mobile to the car's bluetooth, AND (2) have turned the Emergency Assistance on. It calls the standard emergency telephone number of your country (e.g. 911 in US, 112 in UK, 000 in Australia, etc).

      For example, from the Australian entry on the site [ford.com.au]: "In the event of an accident severe enough to either trigger airbag deployment or shut off the fuel pump, Emergency Assistance uses your mobile phone, which must be within mobile reception range, to dial triple zero (000). Once connected, Emergency Assistance then transmits a message stating that your vehicle has been in an accident and provides the emergency services operator your precise GPS coordinates. The phone line remains open so that anyone in the vehicle may speak to the operator using the vehicle’s receiver."

  • You *are* allowed to leave the scene of an accident as long as nobody was hurt, and appropriate contact information has been exchanged between the affected parties so that it can be reported when they get home.
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      Depends on the state. Here is Kansas if there is more than $1000 in property damage you have to notify the police when it occurs, so that's pretty much anythink more than a small fender-bender with the rates body work goes for.

    • If you're going to do that, I highly recommend getting the VIN of the vehicle along with the plate number. My sister and I were in an accident many years ago where the kid driving had a fake license and temporary tags, neither of which could ID the vehicle or driver. Having the VIN was the only thing that enabled the police to find him a couple of weeks later.
    • Not exactly. What you describe is not leaving the scene of an accident. It is staying at the scene of an accident, until a proper legal resolution is reached. Your point only applies to peolple who did not leave the scene, but rather stayed at the scene, made sure nobody was hurt, and exchanged insurance info. I can see how you would confuse the two. Believe it or not, everybody leaves the scene of an accident eventually, even if it is in a meat wagon.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07, 2015 @10:59PM (#51078081)

    "We had a slight weapons malfunction here, but everything is all right now. We're all fine here. How are you?"

  • by wardrich86 ( 4092007 ) on Tuesday December 08, 2015 @12:39PM (#51081649)
    "It doesn't do that for no reason." Bullshit... I've seen OnStar throw an emergency call for a crash because the driver took a turn too sharp and went over a curb. It most certainly will call for no reason.

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