Monday, October 31, 2016

Subaru practices censorship with its car radios

If I hear something on my car radio I don't like, I want to make the choice to turn it off or switch to something else, not have the car manufacturer make that choice. If car manufacturers censor certain words, how far can they be from creating technology that puts those words together and ends up censoring ideas? From a column by Lorraine Sommerfeld in the Postmedia newspaper supplement Driving, October 31, 2016 (link in original):

...Speaking of that radio, a colleague recently brought a Subaru bugaboo to my attention. Subaru is now your raunchy radio censor. If Howard Stern and other adultish talk radio is your groove, rest assured that each time you turn the car off, it will helpfully reset the radio to the preview station to protect any youngsters that may be joining you on your next outing. That’s right: The manufacturer has hardwired a non-overridable command into its Legacy and Outback models that protects you from all the bad words. Talk about annoying.

While Subaru is thinking about the toddlers, other manufacturers are more concerned about the teens. Teen nanny systems – preset radio levels, no radio until seatbelts are done up, speed governors, software to trace where your kid has driven – are all big selling points to owners of teens. My sons have aged out of this sector but I spent years being targeted by carmakers who thought I would love these ideas. I don’t. If I don’t trust my kids, I don’t give them the keys. To monitor their every move is not beneficial, and merely delays people (and yes, teens are people) taking responsibility for their actions. Am I the only one who feels manipulated by auto manufacturers who raced to include ridiculous amounts of distracting technology in cars, only to have them turn around and propose yet more systems that will now protect me from what they introduced in the first place?...

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