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OnStar, the telematics service of General Motors, announced the addition of Remote Ignition Block to its services.  The new service will prevent a stolen vehicle from starting, if it is confirmed by police.  This service joins Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, which will progressively slow a vehicle until it stops – aiding law enforcement in retrieving the vehicle.

Some conspiracy-types have already claimed that this is just one more step on the road to complete government control of where we go and when.  Like this comment posted on a car magazine website, “You think this is great? For years, many have worried about the Big Brother aspects of OnStar. Now that GM is in government hands, so is OnStar. So now, if our caring and benevolent government decides that you are to [sic] irresponsible to drive your Corvette ZR1, they have a way to stop you.”  Another complained that the service is shut down if you don’t renew the subscription after the free trial period, calling the company “OffStar.”  Does he really think they will provide all of these services for free, just because they are related to safety and criminal activity?

I think this is another useful tool to help reduce crime, and if people are willing to pay for it, they will reap the benefits, if they ever need them.  It’s like an insurance policy.  Sure, there is the possibility that somebody will abuse the power, but there is that possibility with many things.  That’s why we have laws and courts to protect us.

PRESS RELEASE
OnStar Launches Industry-Exclusive Technology to Help with Safe and Quick Recovery of Stolen Vehicles

DETROIT (July 21, 2009) – OnStar is expanding on its Stolen Vehicle Assistance services with the announcement of a new technology that will give law enforcement another critical tool to help safely and quickly recover subscribers stolen vehicles.

This new technology is called Remote Ignition Block and will allow an OnStar Advisor to send a remote signal to a subscriber’s stolen vehicle to prevent the vehicle from restarting once the ignition is turned off. This capability will not only help authorities recover stolen vehicles, but can also prevent dangerous high speed pursuits from starting.

“Remote Ignition Block is a prime example of the rapid pace of technological innovation underway at OnStar. We are developing services desired by our subscribers that deliver important societal benefits as well,” said Chet Huber, OnStar president.

Remote Ignition Block builds on OnStar’s growing suite of Stolen Vehicle Assistance services which includes GPS technology that pinpoints a stolen vehicle’s exact location and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown® which can remotely slow a stolen vehicle to idle speed.

OnStar will make Remote Ignition Block available on select over 2M GM 2009 and 2010 model year vehicles in the U.S. and Canada.

The process for deployment:
An OnStar subscriber reports their vehicle stolen to authorities and requests stolen vehicle assistance from OnStar.

Law enforcement provides confirmation to the OnStar Advisor that the vehicle is in fact stolen.
The OnStar Advisor pinpoints the vehicle’s exact GPS location and sends a remote signal to prevent stolen vehicle from starting the next time someone attempts to start it.

On select models, authorities can also request Stolen Vehicle Slowdown if they have a clear line of sight of the stolen vehicle and confirm that conditions are safe to slow down the vehicle.

“Technology like Stolen Vehicle Slowdown and now Remote Ignition Block will improve the chances of apprehending suspected car thieves and are great assets to the law enforcement community” said Oakland County (Mich) Sheriff Mike Bouchard. “Removing an instrument of harm from the hands of criminals improves the safety of our officers, our highways and our citizens” said Bouchard.

For more than 13 years, OnStar has helped authorities in locating tens of thousands of stolen vehicles in order to assist with their safe and quick recovery. OnStar receives approximately 600 Stolen Vehicle Assistance requests from subscribers each month and has helped in over 28,000 requests over the past decade.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Reports, there were 1,095,769 vehicles stolen in the U.S. in 2007, equating to one motor vehicle stolen every 28.8 seconds. Stolen vehicle incidents can turn into dangerous high speed pursuits; at least 300 people die as a result of the more than 30,000 high speed police chases that happen every year. With capabilities such as Stolen Vehicle Slowdown and now Remote Ignition Block, OnStar subscribers have the added peace of mind knowing their vehicle can be prevented from being used as an instrument of harm. In fact, 97% of OnStar subscribers surveyed said they would like Remote Ignition Block capability on their vehicles.

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