As you know, I write a series of novels about FBI Special Agent Kim L. Otto working off the books to find Jack Reacher. (Learn about my Hunt for Jack Reacher Series HERE.)
Although Agent Kim Otto is off the books, she is never unwatched. The efforts she makes to both avoid and use the constant surveillance threats are some of my reader favorites.
In one of my books, Jack and Kill, my editor insisted that I remove a few lines where I said the government could listen in on private conversations inside of cars. She was wrong. But she also said no one would believe it. At the time, I figured people might not believe it. How things have changed! Maybe I’ll stick that scene in the next novel, hmmmm?
Now, with the advent of smart devices and smart homes, the number of ways for hackers — or government officials — to drop in for a listen or a peek are countless.
Image courtesy of HarrisTechnical.com
A while back I wrote about how authorities are able to retrieve data recorders commonly referred to as black boxes from motor vehicles to collect information. Despite privacy concerns, black boxes provide invaluable information when piecing together what happened in a crash. You can read more about black boxes here.
In addition to black boxes, there’s another way you might be spied on without knowing it while you are in your car. Forbes reports that GM’s OnStar program has the ability to listen in on conversations within the car — although a GM spokesperson says it never does that unless ordered to do by a court.
According to court documents, ‘cartapping’ has been used to find criminals and solve cases for the past fifteen years. In 2009 OnStar data was used by police to track down a cocaine dealer. Using the technology, they were able to track him from Houston, Texas, to Ouchita Parish, Louisiana.
SiriusXM, a satellite radio and telematics provider, handed over data regarding a Toyota 4-Runner to authorities in 2014, because they believed that the vehicle was part of an illegal gambling ring.
Image courtesy of Wallacechev.com
SiriusXM can track the location and audio of a vehicle by turning on the Connected Vehicle Services Technology. It’s similar to Apple’s ‘find my phone’ feature. However, this feature is available in only some of the vehicles that Sirius XM supplies. Like GM, the company says that they only provide information when a valid warrant is supplied.
In some cases, authorities can even go so far as to shut down a car by turning off the engine. This happened in 2015 when a twelve-year-old-girl stole a vehicle in Camden, New Jersey with her younger sister as a passenger. The police were finally able to track down the car after OnStar was used to safely disable the engine.
What say you? Do you think technologies like OnStar are a necessity for public safety? Or are they an invasion of privacy?
Bottom line? Agent Otto is constantly required to be creative in the search for Jack Reacher, since it’s a mission that requires clandestine operations!
Find the Hunt for Jack Reacher thrillers HERE.