Domestic violence (DV) victims and experts are warning you against smart car tracking and control apps.
- Car tracking apps provide convenience but also become tools of abuse in relationships, allowing abusers to monitor and control victims.
- Car manufacturers are dragging their feet when it comes to installing safeguards.
Domestic abuse victims, as well as experts, are warning others about the downfall of smart car tracking and control apps.
These days, you can control and track everything about your life through your phone, from your car to your child. Unfortunately, so can abusive people in your life, especially partners. In a previous article, we discussed how a smart home can go from heaven to hell overnight. However, today with how advanced our cars have become, these tools are increasingly being exploited as instruments of control and intimidation in abusive relationships.
In one horrific account, as told by the New York Times, DV survivor Christine Dowdall thought she could escape a violent situation involving her husband. She took her Mercedes-Benz C300 to her daughter’s house seeking refuge. What she didn’t know, however, was that her husband was taking advantage of the Mercedes Me app, which provided owners with smart features like remote locking and climate control. He was tracking the car’s every turn.
The app snitched on her like it had made a deal with the government in exchange for immunity.
But the story doesn’t end there. During the divorce, Dowdall had gotten a restraining order against her husband and the sole use of the car. However, she kept facing roadblocks when she wanted to remove her ex-husband’s digital access because the loan and the title were in his name. Let’s just say a hard-of-sight person would have had an easier time trying to enter a string into a needle’s eye without their glasses.
In a recent San Francisco case, the owner of the car used the remote access to harass his estranged wife by activating lights and horns and manipulating climate controls. In this case as well, tesla failed to revoke access to the husband.
And the problem is not just the tracking. These so-called “smartphones on wheels” have sensors and cameras that collect extensive personal information, including your driving habits. While these features are meant to facilitate the owner’s life, they pose a significant risk to them as well.
One more thing, turning off data collection is not an option. Oversight?
Now, you may be inclined to victim blame. “Why is her name on the title?” “Why is the abuser listed as co-owner?” The answer to these questions is truly heartbreaking. Often, in abusive situations, the victims do not have the luxury of owning anything. Not even the clothes on their backs. How else are the abusers supposed to claim theft when the victim finally escapes their claws?
Domestic abuse is not easy to leave. Abusers weave their webs around you so tight that you will doubt your sanity and worth. Most of the time you aren’t even aware it’s happening. Throw a frog into a boiling pot of water, it will jump out. Boil the water with a frog in it, it might just stay in it.
Despite the urgency of the matter, car manufacturers are quite slow to respond.
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