The government is backing a project to install a “communication box” in new cars to track the whereabouts of drivers anywhere in Europe, the Guardian can reveal.
Under the proposals, vehicles will emit a constant “heartbeat” revealing their location, speed and direction of travel. The EU officials behind the plan believe it will significantly reduce road accidents, congestion and carbon emissions. A consortium of manufacturers has indicated that the router device could be installed in all new cars as early as 2013.
However, privacy campaigners warned last night that a European-wide car tracking system would create a system of almost total road surveillance.
Details of the Cooperative Vehicle-Infrastructure Systems (CVIS) project, a £36m EU initiative backed by car manufacturers and the telecoms industry, will be unveiled this year.
But the Guardian has been given unpublished documents detailing the proposed uses for the system. They confirm that it could have profound implications for privacy, enabling cars to be tracked to within a metre – more accurate than current satellite navigation technologies.
The European commission has asked governments to reserve radio frequency on the 5.9 Gigahertz band, essentially setting aside a universal frequency on which CVIS technology will work.