Wednesday, March 01, 2023

VW wouldn’t locate kidnapped child because his mother didn’t pay for find-my-car subscription

Cory Doctorow
Feb 28, 2023


The masked car-thieves who stole a Volkswagen SUV in Lake County, IL didn’t know that there was a two-year-old child in the back seat — but that’s no excuse. A violent car-theft has the potential to hurt or kill people, after all.

Likewise, the VW execs who decided to nonconsensually track the location of every driver and sell that data to shady brokers — but to deny car owners access to that data unless they paid for a “find my car” subscription — didn’t foresee that their cheap, bumbling subcontractors would refuse the local sheriff’s pleas to locate the car with the kidnapped toddler.


The local sheriff called Volkswagen and begged them to track the car. VW refused, citing the fact that the mother had not paid for the $150 find-my-car subscription after the free trial period expired. Eventually, VW relented and called back with the location data — but not until after the stolen car had been found and the child had been retrieved.


In short: the automotive sector has filled our cars with surveillance gear, but that data is only reliably available to commercial data-brokers and hackers who breach Big Cars’ massive data repositories. Big Car has the IT capacity to fill our cars with cheat devices — but not the capacity to operate an efficient surveillance system to use in real emergencies. Big Car says that giving you control over your car will result in your murder — but when a child’s life is on the line, they can’t give you access to your own car’s location.


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