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Last Updated: Monday, 25 August, 2003, 05:38 GMT 06:38 UK
'Spy' plans for new cars
Roadside sensors could track cars
Roadside sensors could track cars
The government is reportedly planning to fit all cars in Britain with a personalised microchip so rule-breaking motorists can be prosecuted by computer.

The chip will automatically report a wide range of offences including speeding, road tax evasion and illegal parking, according to The Sunday Times newspaper.

It will even record every time motorists drive in bus lanes, The Sun reports.

The paper says the scheme would require car makers to fit the chips in all vehicles while older cars would have them added during MoT tests.

The existing network of roadside sensors, set up by traffic-monitoring companies and the Highways Agency, would require minimal modification to be used for electronic vehicle identification (EVI) tracking, The Times says.

Each sensor would be programmed with the road's speed, parking and general driving restrictions, says The Sun.

The entire driving population is going to be turned into criminal suspects
Civil rights organisation Liberty

The chip plan emerges in the first part of an initial feasibility study, an 85-page document drafted by the Association of Chief Police Officers on the orders of transport secretary Alistair Darling, which lists 47 possible offences for EVI.

Written by Sussex traffic police head Superintendent Jim Hammond, it says stolen cars could quickly be traced and uninsured drivers would automatically be identified, reports suggest.

The study also notes cars driven by terrorist suspects or drug smugglers could be monitored even in Europe if, as officials in Brussels envisage, EVI is introduced across the European Union.

But civil rights organisation Liberty told The Sun: "This sets a very dangerous precedent.

"The entire driving population is going to be turned into criminal suspects."

This would be a spy harassing every driver
Tory shadow trade secretary Tim Yeo

AA Motoring Trust deputy director Bert Morris added: "There could be a hidden agenda.

"We have to ask if the gain is worth the pain."

Tory shadow trade secretary Tim Yeo told The Sun: "This would be a spy harassing every driver.

"It's time the government laid off motorists."

The "nightmarish" plan "risks turning every motorist, however safe a driver, into a criminal", he added.



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