Ever think about life in the slammer? Do you remember last summer when hackers disabled a Jeep Cherokee from 10 miles away by hacking into its UConnect system? Well, a whole lot of people took notice of what was a really a tech demonstration of onboard vehicle system vulnerability. To say the car industry and lawmakers freaked out is putting it mildly.
To show how seriously U.S. car capital Detroit takes it, two new car hacking bills have been submitted to the Michigan legislature, as reported by Automotive News. One of the Senate bills makes car hacking a felony. The second bill has sentencing guidelines calling for convictions to result in prison sentences… for life. Like, until you die.
Michigan Senators Mike Kowall and Ken Horn introduced the bills. The first bill makes it a felony to “intentionally access or cause access to be made to an electronic system of a motor vehicle to willfully destroy, damage, impair, alter or gain unauthorized control of the motor vehicle.”
The second bill imposes sentencing up to life in prison. “I hope that we never have to use it,” Kowall said. “That’s why the penalties are what they are. The potential for severe injury and death are pretty high. As opposed to waiting for something bad to happen, we’re going to be proactive on this and try to keep up with technology.”
The bills have both been referred to the Senate’s judiciary committee.
The push to incorporate diagnostic, communications, entertainment, safety, and autonomous driving technology onto cars will not stop. Countries, automobile manufacturers, and coalitions are pushing for and committing to the technologies, especially driverless systems. One of the major arguments in favor of self-driving vehicles is safety, with claims that cars can be taught to react quicker, smarter, and more consistently than human drivers.
A quick look around the world, however, shows a startling increase in hacking, with just concerns about vulnerabilities of weakest links in complex systems. The last thing you want when you give up control of your car is for someone else with ill intent to take over. Michigan is making it very clear they don’t want it either and are proposing strict laws and sentences for anyone who hacks someone else’s vehicle.