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Is it possible to disable the "eCall" surveillance system?

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  • Is it possible to disable the "eCall" surveillance system?

    [Note: Richard Stallman, himself, has told me (in replies to messages that I have sent to him) that he is also interested in a solution to this new problem, that has arisen in Europe... So, if anyone knows anything more about this, please, share it.]

    (https://blackfernando.blogs.sapo.pt/can ... nce-143810)


    Can the new EU-wide "eCall" surveillance system be disabled?

    Starting with April 2018, all cars sold within the European Union are now obliged to include an embedded electronic system, with a GPS location device and a microphone, that automatically transmits data to emergency services in case the sensors inside the car detect an accident with the latter, called the "eCall"[1] system.

    And, as with other electronic equipments with the same capabilities, of using microphones and GPS locators (think cell/smartphones), naturally a huge privacy concern arises about possible "backdoors" in such a system, that might allow for it to be remotely activated by authorities without a person's knowledge[2].

    The "European Standard" of the operating requirements of this technology (document "EN 16072:2015")[3] allows, for the time being[4], for it to be "disabled" at the request of the car owner[5]:


    7.8 Modes of operation for automatic triggered eCall

    The automatically triggered eCall may be set into one of two modes:
    a) automatically enabled on vehicle ignition-on;
    b) permanently disabled at the request of the vehicle owner by maintenance personnel and processes approved by the equipment supplier.



    But, which specific "processes approved by the equipment supplier" are those?

    (If they consist on simply using a hidden “power off” button or removing a SIM card, it's known that that doesn't effectively work to guarantee a person's privacy[2]...)

    Is there any approved process, guaranteed to be effective, by which one can really disable such a system?

    Has anyone ever done this, and can demonstrate and explain to others how can we do it?


    Written by a mere blogger, called Fernando Negro

    ---
    1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECall
    2. https://blackfernando.blogs.sapo.pt/raz ... nos-141654
    3. A "preview" (with the first pages) of it, starting at page 5 of the following PDF, is available here - https://www.sis.se/api/document/preview/8013819/ - and the document in question can be downloaded in its entirety, after a payment, here: https://www.en-standard.eu/csn-en-16072 ... rements-1/
    4. Status of such European norm described as "Active" here: https://standards.globalspec.com/std/99 ... n-en-16072
    5. Following quote taken from a "United Nations Economic Commission for Europe" document: https://wiki.unece.org/download/attachm ... 0eCall.pdf

  • #2
    Here is my recent experience in purchasing a new car:

    Business being booming in Brexit Britain I found myself in the rare but happy position of buying a new car. At the options ticking stage of my shortlist I asked the salesman (and in one case saleswoman) where is the option to delete the e-Call. To a man (and in one case woman) they said there is no option to delete e-Call as it was the law that it cannot be removed. At this point I will take a moment to explain what e-Call is for those who aren’t familiar with it.

    e-Call is a European Union initiative intended to bring rapid assistance to motorists involved in a collision anywhere in the European Union. eCall was made mandatory in all new cars sold within the EU from April 2018.

    The eCall initiative aims to deploy a device installed in all vehicles that will automatically dial 112 in the event of a serious road accident, and wirelessly send airbag deployment and impact sensor information, as well as GPS or Galileo coordinates to local emergency agencies. A manual call button is also provided. The device is not dissimilar to a crude cell phone in that it contains a sim card, communications circuit complete with transceivers that work through the vehicles speakers and microphone and links to phone masts.

    The EU claims e-Call will reduce injury and death from road traffic collisions as the rational.

    Depending on the final implementation of the system, it may be possible for the system to become activated without an actual crash taking place allowing the vehicle to be tracked at all times. Also, the occupants of the car have no control over the remote activation of the microphone, making a car susceptible to eavesdropping.

    In the UK the system is administered by US telecoms company Avaya. Under US Homeland Security legislation US telecoms company’s are required to submit to data requests from any one of a number of government agencies. It is a federal crime to inform the subject of that data request.

    OK. Despite the somewhat specious claims of the EU I am fully prepared to forgo the dubious benefits of e-Call for much the same reason I choose not to own a mobile phone. Further research showed that there is in fact a derogation in the legislation. The "European Standard" of the operating requirements of this technology (document "EN 16072:2015") allows, for the time being[4], for it (e-Call) to be "disabled" at the request of the car owner. Waving my research in the face of the salesman (and in one case saleswoman) I told them I couldn’t take the order any further unless they deleted the system at which point each of the salesmen (and in one case saleswoman) said I’d have to take it up with the manufacture. Which I did.

    Mercedes Benz chose not to respond. The responses from the other manufacturers are as follows:
    Lexus:
    Hello Mr Walsh
    Thanks for your enquiry regarding e-Call. I'm sorry that this new safety system has put you off purchasing a Lexus.
    I'm afraid you can't disable it. It's a legal requirement on all new cars.
    Kind regards


    Jenny Shipley
    Customer Relations Case Manager
    Toyota (GB) PLC - Lexus Division
    Distributor of vehicles, parts and accessories for the UK
    and further:

    Hello Mr Walsh
    Thanks for your further email.
    I've checked and eCall definitely cannot be disabled as it is a legal requirement. I think the legislation you quote suffixed 2015 has been superceded.
    All new generation cars for any manufacturer within the EU will have eCall activated by default. This has been put in place to bring rapid assistance to any driver involved in an accident (airbag deployed or eCall button pressed in the car).
    Connected services, however, are de-activated by default so if you do not opt-in to Connected Services, no data will be collected.
    I hope this gives you a little more reassurance.
    Kind regards


    Jenny Shipley
    Customer Relations Case Manager
    Toyota (GB) PLC - Lexus Division
    Distributor of vehicles, parts and accessories for the UK

    and:

    Dear Mr Walsh

    Thank you for your email dated 11 September 2019 addressed to my colleague, Jenny Shipley.

    I have taken the liberty to check our previous replies through our Legal & Compliance Department and we can confirm that our advice is not factually or legally incorrect. Our new models such as the Lexus UX, ES and Toyota Corolla, Camry and RAV4 have eCall and it cannot be disabled.

    Unfortunately, it is difficult for us to comment on the replies made by other motor manufacturers.

    Kind regards



    Stephen Hinshelwood
    Specialist Case Manager, Customer Relations
    Toyota (GB) PLC - Lexus Division
    Distributor of vehicles, parts and accessories for the UK

    McLaren:

    Thank you for your email and contacting McLaren Automotive.

    No McLaren automotive cars in production have E-Call fitted.

    Kindest regards,

    Guest Relations Team


    Guest Relations
    McLaren Automotive Ltd

    BMW:

    Good morning Ian

    Thanks for being patient while I look into this for you.

    I have been making enquiries and you are 100% correct on the information being on the website
    (15. How can the SIM card and the associated intelligent emergency call be deactivated/reactivated?
    If you do not want to use the intelligent emergency call function (e.g. in case of a used vehicle purchase), it is possible to have the pre-installed SIM card of the vehicle and the associated intelligent emergency call function deactivated by an authorised BMW Motorrad Retailer. A corresponding indicator light will appear in the instrument cluster if the SIM card is deactivated. The "Reactivation" of the SIM card can also be carried out by an authorised BMW Motorrad Retailer.)
    however BMW do not recommend this be carried out. I am just curious to know why the centre has said they cannot do this for you.

    Could you please let me know which centre it was that gave you this information?

    I will look into this with that centre and any other centres in the local area just to see what they say on the matter.

    I look forward to your reply.

    Kind regards

    Reece

    BMW Motorrad
    United Kingdom
    Reece Wood
    Customer Support Executive
    Summit ONE
    Summit Avenue, Farnborough
    Hampshire, GU14 0FB

    Porsche:

    Dear Mr Walsh

    Thank you for your email.

    I have liaised with the relevant teams and can confirm you can disable the e-call function.

    When you purchase your Porsche, please notify your selling Centre and they will request a ticket here at Porsche Head Office and process your request. You will need to state you understand the risks and implications.

    If there is anything further I can assist with, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

    Kind regards

    Sara Hammond
    Personal Case Manager
    Porsche Customer Assistance Centre
    On behalf of Porsche Cars Great Britain Ltd
    Bath Road, Calcot, Reading, RG31 7SE


    Ford:

    Good Afternoon Ian,

    Thank you for your email dated 9th September.

    I have called out technical team regarding this request. They have suggested that from Ford's opinion that we would not remove this, and would not suggest removing anything from a vehicle. As we would always suggest leaving a vehicle as factory built. You would be more than welcome to seek advise outside of Ford, but we would not endorse any modifications outside of Ford.

    I hope this helps answering your question and if we can help any further please do not hesitate to contact us further.

    Kind Regards

    Alice Sigsworth
    Ford Customer Relationship Centre.
    It seems that certain vendors pick & choose which laws they wish to comply with and which consumer rights they are willing to deny you.

    To be clear, you have the legal right to insist that e-Call be disabled from your new vehicle.

    Well, I am soon to be the proud owner of a new Porsche - without an e-Call system. For like minded prospective purchasers who do not want e-Call on their new cars who are told “no you will have one - it’s the law” please show them this and if (like Lexus, Ford & Mercedes Benz) they try to tell you otherwise exercise that most powerful of all tools you have, take your business elsewhere like I did and as we finally leave the death grip of the EU let’s hope we consign this sort of nonsense to history.

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