Ford's "repossession system computer" — a car that punishes you for late payments

Originally published at: Ford's "repossession system computer" — a car that punishes you for late payments | Boing Boing




You just know there was a whiteboard item in the initial program features to door lock the arrears driver inside. Then someone kicked the dormouse/lawyer, they mumbled “unlawful imprisonment…zzz”, and they wiped that off the board until version.2


How many minutes after deployment will this system be hacked and used to harass - or just kidnap - innocent people?


Oh ffs this again.

This is a patent APPLICATION. It is not a GRANTED PATENT.

This is like saying every bill that gets introduced in a legislature is somehow a law. Only worse, because anyone with the fees can get a patent application.


Maybe my favourite example:


This is the kind of thing that used to be considered over-the-top parodic SF. Now it’s going to be our reality.


In Detroit in the late 90s Mel Farr (former Detroit Lions player) had a bunch of Ford dealerships specializing in high interest loans for bad credit buyers. He started his first dealership in 1975.

He got into legal trouble for putting devices on cars that would prevent the car from starting if you missed a payment. It was called Farr’s On-Time Device. He was sued by two people who said the cars shut down while they were driving. I believe it turned into a class action suit.

He claimed the device allowed him to help people with bad credit. Until that problem he was thought of highly.

Ironically he ended up defaulting on 35 million and going out of business.

He was quite the Detroit celebrity, one of his sons played for the Lions in the 90s.


This is not much of a stretch beyond what GM already is capable of. I just got an email telling me that the driver’s side rear tire has dropped to 32 PSI. They can lock and unlock the doors, start and stop the engine.
Tesla has been known to turn off features based on negative YouTube reviews.


The newer cars get, the more I love my old cars.


For real. I’m all about lowering emissions and whatnot, but putting “the internet of things” into a vehicle has always seemed like a bad idea and here we are. I like to have more control over my vehicle, thanks. I guess I’ll just have to start shopping for a bicycle.


I foresee an enterprising individual getting into an accident, perhaps intentionally, and suing Ford for the annoying distracting “behind in payment” tone that distracted them.


Yes, this is an application.

Unlike your teleportation example, how hard is this to implement? The self driving stuff is a ways away, but everything else is trivial on an integrated system.


Oh, I don’t see any way this could go wrong.

Or even just accidentally triggered - “The car’s suddenly making this really annoying noise, and I can’t turn it off!” (Or, hell, not even being triggered, but one of the systems simply not working as intended and screwing up the operation of the vehicle.) It’s inevitable, and they know it’s inevitable, so it’ll be a matter of whether they want that bad publicity of ever actually implementing it.

The potential for disasters just by having these systems in the car means it’s a risk for the car manufacturer. I’ve seen a lot of dystopian tech patents that went nowhere because the PR nightmare they would create was far larger than any benefit to the company. I suspect this is another example, at least in the given form. (I also suspect the eventual ‘internet of shit’ features they will add will be almost as bad if not worse…)


The point isn’t the granting of a patent. The point is the statement of intention by the large corporation to backdoor/hijack your vehicle with a patently (pun!) insecure system that will allow anyone to remotely kidnap you and/or steal your car. If this type of system is ever implemented, it will be used by others to do that, regardless of how many bland words of “nah, we secured it with super advanced rot-13 encryption!” are spewed by large corporation #37.


They aren’t that bad. They’re on the cutting edge. Quadruple rot-13 .


Same here. My daily driver is 15 years old and still rust-free but I dread the day when I need to shell out money to buy a new one.


If they ever actually implement the system, probably while they’re demonstrating it to investors and/or the media.

I could maybe see having this system disallowing the car to be shifted from Park into any other gear for people in arrears on their payments. Maybe it could also send Ford the GPS coordinates for the vehicles (that they could then pass along to a repo firm.)

But turning off the AC, if done on a summer day, could kill someone to say nothing of the potential for accidents with the car driving itself somewhere.

Best case scenario could be Ford using this patent (if it gets granted) defensively, to prevent anyone else from developing a system too similar to the one described in the patent application.


We could always go back to pack animals, but you know that would end horribly because humans suck so much. :man_shrugging:

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It would appear that anyone with the money can get bills introduced. So it’s exactly like the difference between a bill and legislation.

As others have pointed out, the other similarity is that in both cases someone wants to be able to do the thing, no matter how unlikely that is to actually be possible.