Big Brother Watch Briefing Note on EU Car Tracking eCall System

The campaign group Big Brother Watch has prepared a briefing note on privacy and other issues with the European Union’s eCall system which the European Parliament voted on 28th April 2015 to make compulsory in all new cars.

Although eCall is promoted as an EU-wide emergency alert system to help ambulance crews get to road accidents faster, it raises significant privacy and snooping concerns because it works in partnership with an Event Data Recorder (EDR).  The EDR records for 20 seconds before an accident and 10 seconds afterwards; however, as the briefing note points out this means it must be recording and erasing continuously.

Currently it is not intended that eCall should transmit data continuously, but it could do so and this opens up the possibility of mission creep such as the system being used to track motorists, as the EDR has the ability to record a vehicles exact location. There are also concerns about the system being a target for hackers.

The eCall system has already been used by the Police to track motorists according to a article in the Sunday Times which states:

Interpol, which coordinates police intelligence across 190 countries confirmed that some of its members are using the eCall system for surveillance operations, though it refused to say whether British police were using the technology in this way.