In response to the mass evacuations caused by Hurricane Irma, Tesla decided to temporarily upgrade software in their cars to allow people to drive an extra 30 miles. The temporary upgrade, which expires on September 16 and can cost a buyer up to $9,000 if purchased, was pushed out to Tesla cars remotely. This begs the question – how much control over your vehicle can the Tesla corporation exhibit?
I don’t about you, but I’m not a huge fan of some random person at a large organization, like Comcast, NSA, AT&T, Tesla, etc, having unabated access to see what I have searched online, who I have communicated with, or where I have traveled to. But now, you are telling me that Tesla can remotely connect to a car and increase or decrease the distance said car can travel? That sort of access sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
Not only is there potential for certain customers (i.e. rich) to be prioritized in a disaster situation, any system that can be accessed remotely contains an inherent risk in which the system could be hacked and controlled by people who don’t have the best intentions. The powers that be will tell you there is nothing to worry about, but on the back of the Equifax hack that has reportedly affected over 100 million customers in the U.S. alone, you should always be aware that hacks can happen at any company and in any technology. Case in point, the infamous Target hack of a couple of years ago was done via the HVAC system.
As the Yahoo! article points out, Tesla shouldn’t be singled out for their ability to remotely control your car. GM can remotely shut down your car as well, and they reportedly have done just that at the request of law enforcement.
While new technology is certainly flashy and convenient, it is also presents new risks, and in most cases, it reduces the autonomy we have in our lives. In this case, it is evident that the auto industry is moving toward automobiles that can be unilaterally controlled by corporations against consumer wishes, so good luck everyone.