Navigating the Future of Mobility: Strengthening National Security in the Era of Connected Vehicles

As the world moves into an era of increased connectivity and mass automation, it represents a new era in mobility. Today’s connected vehicles come with cutting-edge technologies including cameras, radars, and other sensors, all wrapped up in a metallic body. These technologies promise enhanced lifestyles and experiences that move people and cargo while raising new national security issues. Leaders in the US House of Representatives have introduced legislation to examine connected vehicles from China and countries of concern.

The Dawn of Connected Vehicles: A Double-Edged Sword

Automotive perfection is here – and it’s called the connected car. Or at least that’s what the auto manufacturers and Silicon Valley reports would have us believe. The phrase ‘connected car’ conjures up images of steadily improving machines that respond to our needs instantaneously, track our traffic, link us up with other cars, and integrate us seamlessly into our lives online. The cameras and data-processing that make this possible, though they can be easeful, are also intensely problematic.

Legislative Measures for Technological Sovereignty

Responding to these worries, Rep Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), who leverages her CIA analyst and Pentagon service in Congress, introduced the Connected Vehicle National Security Review Act, mandating a detailed review of the security of connected autos made in China using omnipresence of onboard cameras and sensors as a test case.

The Heart of the Matter: Security Risks and CAMERAS

The real problem is all those high-tech cameras and sensors embedded throughout the vehicle, features that make it easier to get you where you’re going, but also make it easier for a foreign entity to spy on you: It’s not the raw data that Innosimus is worried about, so much as the ability of the vehicles to process, transmit, and store data. After all, why can’t the cars be hacked to reach out to an Internet server in Kazan and upload information on certain bridges or tunnels – like say, the Alex Ave overpass in Brooklyn or the George Washington Bridge – or even the whereabouts of certain individuals who might become useful to a Russian businessman?

Economic Implications: The Competitive Landscape

There’s some basis for Slotkin’s alarm; the economic picture is certainly a gloomy one. Cheap Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) are eating into international markets. The vehicle’s price and camera technology makes it hard to compete. ‘Let’s Get Ahead of the Curve: The Time to Establish Comprehensive Data Privacy Legislation Is Now’ is Slotkin’s clarion call, encouraging us to focus our attention away from patchwork legislation towards an overarching bill that regulates data privacy.

A Proactive Stance Against Emerging Threats

Simultaneously, the Biden Administration has also raised tariffs on EVs made in China – a clear sign that they will be taking a hard line against potential technology security threats – and ongoing investigations into connected vehicle safety risks further highlight the administration’s focus on national security. Slotkin’s proposed bill would extend these actions further, creating a permanent program to evaluate connected vehicles.

The Path Forward: Balancing Innovation and Security

The great debates about connected vehicles and national security are just starting. Walking a fine line between supporting technological advancements and protecting national interests will be difficult but essential if we are to fulfil the promise of automated vehicles for saving lives and improving safety. Introducing federal legislation, as Slotkin is doing, is a good place to start.

The Role of CAMERAS in the Future of Connected Vehicles

At the centre of this debate lies the very function of cameras – and other sensors – both as innovations and as a form of surveillance. The more they become central to connected vehicles, the more they need to be understood and governed, to make sure they actually benefit users, rather that endangering them.

All the more so in the emphasizing age of connected mobility, when the questions posed by new technology and security take on greater urgency in the debate over privacy, innovation and national security, as it relates, here, to cameras with advanced capabilities and connected vehicles. This legislative solution represents an important first step in defining a framework for connected vehicles that secures a future for technology to serve the public good.

May 30, 2024
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