If only someone had mentioned security concerns before now

October 2, 2020

Wendy Parker

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Rarely is an idea so terrible and lacking security from start to finish.

In this sordid little tale of safety and security, exceptions to that statement will be made for Fabulous Father Feather’s time machine, and the FMCSA’s version of a time machine, also known as an electronic logging device.

Maybe the FMCSA should have taken a lesson or two from Fabulous Father Feather, a distant and deeply disturbed cousin who believed it was unnecessary to test or vet any of the components he included in his own time-contraption.

Fabby Fet (his YouTube handle) was convinced that he was not only a Templar Knight (he was not), but also that he was urgently needed by Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund to complete a secret divine mission to retrieve the Holy Grail from the French.

This required Father Feather to build himself a time machine, which he fashioned from discarded Coleman lanterns and aluminum foil. He positioned this spectacle on the highest hill in Helen, Ga., so it could attract the greatest volume of lightning strikes during a summer storm, thus gathering enough energy to fling him 600 years into the past.

Father Feather was flung alright, but it was across three states and very much in real time. Bits of him tangled with exploded Coleman lantern were reported as UFO sightings as far away as Cleveland, Ohio, and it is rumored that an entire section of his left butt cheek made it all the way to the Clevenger Dirt Farm in Hettick, Ill.

If only someone had warned him.

Of course, the situation with the FMCSA’s time machine security is a little more complicated but only slightly less ridiculous. It’s also real, and guess what? They were warned and ignored it.

In September 2017, an OOIDA-led coalition of 31 organizations, said there were “significant technological and real-world concerns” that hadn’t been addressed by FMCSA. In its fight against the ELD mandate, OOIDA petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, mentioning privacy concerns and saying that it violated truckers’ Fourth Amendment rights.

Citing improved highway safety, the FMCSA pressed on with the mandate that would ultimately require a huge number of commercial truck drivers to install on their phone, or in their truck, platforms of foreign-made technology that had absolutely no oversight beyond “self-certification.”

Fast forward three years, billions of dollars and a proclaimed trucking “bloodbath” regarding small business trucking and affecting a number of large fleets.
Well, hello there, FBI and your Electronic Logging Device Cybersecurity and Best Practices Bulletin. Where were you three years ago when we were screaming about security concerns?

By the by, the bulletin summary includes this nugget:

Although the (ELD) mandate seeks to provide safety and efficiency benefits, it does not contain cybersecurity requirements for manufacturers or suppliers of ELDs, and there is no requirement for third-party validation or testing prior to the ELD self-certification process. This poses a risk to businesses because ELDs create a bridge between previously unconnected systems critical to trucking operations.”

 

You don’t say? Who would have ever thought it would be a bad idea to allow software companies to self-certify? Holy gee, Batman. Someone might have cheated.

(If I rolled my eyes any harder I might be afflicted with whatever tore through poor ol’ Father Feather’s mind when he climbed that hill in Helen.)

Unfortunately, just being able to say, “Told ya’ so,” doesn’t quite scratch the itch, if you know what I mean. And I’m just gonna throw this out there for thought food – by the time the HOS emergency pandemic exemptions are lifted, we will be at least nine months into a whole bunch of truckers using their own good judgment instead of a time machine to tell them when to drive.

Although it will take 40 forevers to actually get the data, I’m very curious to see how highway safety fared those nine months. You can be sure we’ll have it here, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, be safe out there. LL

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