In short, former Nokia leader, Jorma Ollila, who now sits on the Shell board of directors wants to see cars tracked with GPS devices to try and make the car tax fairer. 

One size fits all

At the moment we have a one size fits all solution.  The new proposed idea would see low mileage drivers being taxed less, and long distance drivers being taxed more, although as the Yle report below mentions, lorries and buses would be exempt.

On paper this seems like a good idea, with the ability for adjust for those living living in cities or villages and those with large cars and those with small cars.  The bit that sticks out for me is the fitting of cars with GPS devices and transmitters to make the whole thing work.  The answer to privacy concerns that only the data needed for taxation will be used isn’t enough for me.  Location and identity data will still be collected and stored.

How would this work?  Under the proposed scheme the tracking devices would cost 10€ / year (not going to break the bank) but the outlay will be enormous.

In the current climate as we deal with the steady stream of leaks from Snowden about the over pervasive reach of NSA’s and GCQH’s surveillance, I’m just not convinced that this data won’t at some point fall into the hands of, for want of better word, Big Brother.  The “if you’ve got nothing to hide .. ” argument has worn thin with me a long long time ago.  I’m just really fed up with (even proposed) plans to monitor and track us, for our own good of course.

 Alternatives?

The tax would be based on distance driven and the class of car used and all this information is already available via the yearly car checks (Katsastus / MOT Test).  Everyone would pay as at the moment, and then if your mileage is less than normal you get a rebate.  If it’s over the  norm you get a bill.  Estimates can be made at the beginning of the car-tax year or as the year progresses.  We already have exactly the same sort of system in place for income tax, why not car tax?

The other alternative would be simply to drop car tax altogether and add it on the fuel price.  The amount of fuel used depends on .. wait for it .. the type of car you drive and how far you drive it.  No need for a massive technical infrastructure to be built and maintained.  There’s no data to fall into the wrong hands so I can leave my tin-hat at home in the cupboard.

Conscientious objection.

If I want to object, how do I it?  Drive around without a device?  I’d probably get caught and fined and so criminalised.   Not drive at all?  Rely on public transport?  The vast majority of us will need a car for every day; if not for the school run then for the shopping trips.  Small business owners will need a car or van to move their goods around so by ‘conscientiously objecting’ they won’t be able to sell anything.

By doing a spot of future gazing, I wonder what would be next.  Us?  Cisco already has drawn up plans to chip American service men to provide better medical care in the field (for their own good).  When you pull these strands together with a good dose of cynicism the future looks a little grim.  If I take these thoughts a little further, an argument of comply with compulsory tracking, or you won’t able to buy or sell anything doesn’t seem so far fetched.

The best form objecting is best done now.  Whilst things are still in the planning stage.  Maybe drop a line to those in power, those who are having the big ideas.  I can get all “end-of-the-worldy” now but if don’t actually do anything then I can’t really complain later on when my paranoia dial is all bent out of shape.

Links

News article: http://yle.fi/uutiset/ollila_group_proposes_road_tax_shake-up/6986902

Image: http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/22572487.jpg

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