Ed Snowden Loves Self-Driving Cars, Hates Privacy

12 May


If Ed Snowden wants to protect privacy and civil liberties, then he’s got some explaining to do re: his remarks on Self-Driving Cars. Yesterday he tweeted the following:


Which makes no sense, because if you know anything about Self-Driving Cars, you know that they are the enemy of privacy. A Self-Driving Car requires cameras, sensors and connectivity, and eliminates user control. Self-Driving Cars enable the surveillance state in direct proportion to how much “safer” they are.

Once a car is equipped with a full suite of Autonomous Driving functionality, you’re in the lap of the surveillance state whether you use it or not.

Here’s a fun little data point:

We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing. By the way, we don’t supply that data to anyone.”

Does anyone remember who said that? Jim Farley, Ford’s Global VP/Marketing and Sales. He later apologized, but you don’t need to be Nostradamus to know that what he said was technically possible, and, in practice, inevitable. If the FBI hasn’t already demanded such data, they will.

I’m not arguing against Self-Driving Cars. The march of technology is inevitable. I’m arguing that Snowden (of all people) should be the champion of balancing privacy and safety, and if he doesn’t understand the privacy dangers implicit in Self-Driving Cars, then he’s a fool, or worse.

Alex Roy is an Editor-at-Large for The Drive, and author of The Driver and set the 2007 Transcontinental “Cannonball Run” Record in 31 hours & 4 minutes. You may follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

One thought on “Ed Snowden Loves Self-Driving Cars, Hates Privacy

  1. I doubt Snowden was thinking about the privacy violation aspect of self driving cars. He was probably thinking about safety aspect of them.

    SDCs don’t violate speed limits. They don’t have morons at the wheel texting, talking on cell phones, putting on make-up, yelling at the kids in the back seat, have a BAC of .2, etc.They’ll do everything correctly, by the book.

    But we who like driving, occasionally exceed the posted limit, pass slow vehicles even in dubious situations. Take the best line through a curve, despite the painted lane markers. SDCs won’t do that. Which makes them not that much fun.

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