Sputnik had an interesting article over the weekend about how the UK’s Department of Transportation is allegedly mulling over the use of satellite-supported “geo-fencing” in order to prevent terrorist attacks. According to the report, which cites The Times, the authorities want to obtain the power to force cars to slow down and eventually turn off if they enter a restricted area, hoping that this will prevent the type of truck and car attacks which have become frighteningly popular with all sorts of terrorists lately.
This would represent a step up from conventional geo-fencing which usually prevents certain electronics from being used within a designated space. While there aren’t too many details available for how this technology would work, the article says that the satellites would connect to on-board computers inside the cars and therefore take control of them if they enter the “geographically fenced off” area. Trials are supposedly going on in Sweden with the participation of the Scania and Volvo car companies, so it wouldn’t exactly be a first if the UK does something similar.
Now, the reason why I want to discuss this a bit more in detail is because of the loopholes inherent in this strategy and the potential for its abuse by national militaries. About the first one, and if I understand it correctly, then older cars from the 20th century which don’t have any onboard computers aren’t affected by satellite-supported “geo-fencing”, so that pretty much kills the purpose of this assumedly multimillion-dollar plan.
Furthermore, judging by the information that only two car companies are taking part in the Swedish trials, it suggests that different signals would have to be beamed down to earth to stop different computer-carrying vehicles. In addition, there are probably MacGyver-like workarounds for blocking the satellite signal, so this strategy is far from ideal and, in my opinion, represents what Google calls a “moonshot”, or an almost impossible task which could bring with it major dividends if successful.
All of these issue strongly indicate that the UK’s satellite-supported “anti-terrorist” “geo-fencing” project isn’t so much about stopping car or truck attacks against civilians, but about perfecting the technology to more broadly interfere with all sorts of vehicles, including those of a potential military adversary during a future conflict.
What the UK, and I’d assume, all other Great Powers want to do is obtain that capability in order to literally stop enemy tanks – most of which have some sort of computer mechanism in them nowadays – dead in their tracks. Yes, it’s an ambitious idea, a “moonshot”, if you will, but if any state can pull it off, then this next step in the militarization of space could be a real game-changer and herald the beginning of yet another arms race.
The post presented is the partial transcript of the CONTEXT COUNTDOWN radio program on Sputnik News, aired on Friday Jul 7, 2017:
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