Senior police across the European Union have been secretly considering the feasibility of remotely stopping vehicles, according to a report, with a proposal suggesting the capability is built in as ‘standard’ for all new cars in the region.
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Civil liberties group Statewatch leaked the document, which was put together by European Network of Law Enforcement Technology Services (Enlets), a group that seeks to build cooperation across EU states in the adoption of technology in policing. Not a great deal is known about Enlets, but it emerged as part of the EU Council’s Law Enforcement Working Party, a European initiative designed to tackle organized crime. According to this page, Enlets has one contact in every EU country “who is responsible for collecting information on the technological needs and for presenting those needs to Enlets”.
The report, first sent from Brussels and dated December 4, 2013, reads: “Cars on the run have proven to be dangerous for citizens. Criminal offenders (from robbery to a simple theft) will take risks to escape after a crime. In most cases the police are unable to chase the criminal due to the lack of efficient means to stop the vehicle safely. This project starts with the knowledge that insufficient tools are available to be used as part of a proportionate response.
“This project will work on a technological solution that can be a “built in standard” for all cars that enter the European market.”
Other listed proposals include sharing the best available video systems in surveillance technologies, making use of open source intelligence, building closer relationships between police and private industry, and identifying “potential threats and opportunities as well as potential changes in the way technology is used.”
Anti-EU campaigners have slammed the document, but the BBC claims the project is “at the early stages of looking into feasibility,” and that there are currently no plans to introduce such technology into private vehicles.
Antoine Rizk, VP of vertical markets at Axway, a security company that also specializes in the connected car, told Forbes that although remote operation of cars is already possible, any official attempts would have to be very carefully considered.
“Any connected cars can be controlled remotely” Rizk said. “There are now apps for your smartphone that enable a driver to monitor, and in the future, even stop his car if it’s stolen.
“While the technology is currently available, the big hold up here is security risk, especially if the police are looking to manage such a project. Without an extremely secure API gateway in place, each party is leaving itself wide open to attack.
“The police will need a fleet management style platform in place, which could hold potentially confidential data, and the driver could be left at serious risk if someone is able to tamper with his car, even turning off the engine, without any warning,” Rizk said.