Big Brother In Your Car?

It seems that legislators in the Texas house have taken time from their busy tax-raising schedule to send HB2893 out of committee.

What is HB2983? First, iIt requires the insurance companies to report all automobile insurance policy purchases, renewals, and cancellations to the state.

Sec. 601.502.  REPORTING REQUIREMENTS. (a) The motor vehicle liability insurance compliance program shall require that, on or after the effective date of this subchapter, when an insurance company authorized to write motor vehicle liability insurance in this state or its designated agent issues or renews a motor vehicle liability insurance policy that provides the minimum coverages required by this chapter to a person who is required to maintain insurance under this chapter and who is the holder of a Texas driver’s license or a Texas commercial driver’s license, or terminates or cancels such a policy, the insurance company or its designated agent shall furnish to the department or administering entity the following information:
          (1)  the insurance policy number;
          (2)  the effective date of the policy;
          (3)  the make, model, license plate number, and vehicle identification number of each vehicle covered by the policy; and
          (4)  any other information reasonably required by the department.
     (b)  The required information relating to an insurance policy that is issued or renewed shall be provided to the department or administering entity not later than the third business day after the date of issuance or renewal.
     (c)  The required information relating to an insurance policy that is terminated or canceled shall be provided to the department before the effective date of the termination or cancellation.

But once the state has its grubby paws on the data, they plan to do far more with it than just check vehicles at registration renewal.  The bill would also add RFID tags to inspection stickers, such that these tags could be read by existing toll-tag readers as well as any other readers that our “friends” in Austin decide to set up.

Sec. 601.507.  SPECIAL INSPECTION CERTIFICATES. (a) Commencing not later than January 1, 2006, the department shall issue or contract for the issuance of special inspection certificates to be affixed to motor vehicles that are inspected and found to be in proper and safe condition under Chapter 548.
     (b)  An inspection certificate under this section must contain a tamper-resistant transponder, and at a minimum, be capable of storing:
          (1)  the transponder’s unique identification number; and
          (2)  the make, model, and vehicle identification number of the vehicle to which the certificate is affixed.
     (c)  In addition, the transponder must be compatible with:
          (1)  the automated vehicle registration and certificate of title system established by the Texas Department of Transportation; and
          (2)  interoperability standards established by the Texas Department of Transportation and other entities for use of the system of toll roads and toll facilities in this state.

By the way, the next section of the bill establishes that if a vehicle is spotted via tag reader that doesn’t have current insurance, the system automatically mails a $250 ticket to the registered owner of the vehicle.

Here’s the full text (PDF) for those who may be interested.

The bill calls for “tamper-resistant” transponders.  Would it be tampering to hit it with an EM pulse?  After all, you didn’t actually touch the device.  Of course, the downside is that a strong EM pulse is difficult to generate and would also fry your car’s electronics.

Maybe a clear metal-film layer applied over the glass instead?



  1. Roger Ritter says:

    If that passes, I predict that it won’t be long before the state or local governments set up linked, paired transponders that can query the cars passing by two locations, compute speed, and automatically send speeding tickets.

    Once the government can track vehicles using these transponders, all sorts of repugnant options open to them.

    Now, unfortunately, I have to go research whether or not these transponders already are being implanted in the registration stickers.  Something in this bill implies that that’s in the works as well.

  2. I don’t think they’re in registration stickers, and it would be harder to put them in those.  I suspect that’s why the picked inspection “stickers”, since those are handled and placed on the vehicle by someone other than the owner/driver.

    Also, I saw that Tarrant Country is starting to use a system where the registration stickers are printed at the time they are issued, rather than the current system where a book of stickers is issued to the county and the clerks “check out” stickers as they are issued to vehicle owners.  A printable RFID is possible, but I don’t think it would have the range (at least at this time) needed for the ubiquitous tracking system that our “betters” in Austin have planned to deal with the insurance “problem.”

    The kind of “sticker” they’re planning would likely be the size of a TollTag.

    Interestingly, I see that my idea of a metal film might have merit.  The Toll Tag installation section mentions a variety of vehicles with metalized windshields that cause problems for reading the Toll Tag.

  3. Outlaw3 says:

    For all the things I like about Texas, why are they trying so hard to ruin it?  *sigh*  This could take Texas off my retirement home list.