Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Cheating on logs, not just for paper anymore

What does an eggshell “baby” have to do with cheating on electronic logs? A high school “adult living” project is just another example that technology is not failsafe.

The buzz over the weekend, and I’m sure that will continue in weeks to come, is the debate over the ability of electronic logs to prevent falsifying logs. Technology, those in favor of electronic logs say, will put an end to the cheating. Forgive me if you must, but it’s pretty na├»ve to think that way.

My daughter brought home my grand “egg baby” last week. It’s a low-cost high school project to show kids that parenting isn’t easy. Students hollow out, decorate and name an egg that they must carry around and care for in the following week or two.

We won’t talk about Princess Jones crushing her first “baby” during the decorating phase the very first day; the teacher gave her a free pass and another egg.

But I will move on to the family introductions and the ensuing quizzing of her obligations as an egg baby parent. The proof of her parenting does not end with presenting an intact egg baby at the end of the project. The students must take selfies with the egg at four-hour intervals over the course of the project.

Immediately, her older brothers pointed out that time stamps can be faked on both her phone and camera, and she should take a whole bunch at once.


“Make an afternoon of it.”

“Just change clothes.”

“Go in different rooms, go outside.”

The advice filled with methods of manipulating the “proof” of the project flew by. Fortunately, Princess Jones is above that and has been waking up for the 2 a.m. feeding and taking a selfie. (Those are a hoot. She does NOT look pleased.)

Point is, tech-savvy types won’t have a lot of trouble figuring out end-arounds for the newly mandated electronic logs. That aside, the devices require driver input. Drivers will have to tell the electronic logs what they are doing when the truck isn’t moving. They have to push a button that tells the device whether they are working.

As far as the devices being “unhackable” I route those bold statements to the makers of Jeep.

I am in no way advocating running illegally. I’m saying it’s downright foolish to believe that technology will absolutely prevent the possibility of it. Sure there will be those who have previously cheated who can’t figure out a new way. But I’d bet my bottom dollar on the fact that there are and will be plenty of ways for those hell-bent on cheating to do just that.

You can only legislate to the lowest common denominator of those who choose to break the law for so long. Laws are added to the books daily around this country trying to lift up the bottom dwellers into a life of compliance and law abidance. They won’t change. They either craft a better mousetrap to get around the laws or ignore them altogether. Law-abiding, honest people get saddled with the cost and loss of freedoms along the way.

Choosing to use technology to make your own life easier is one thing. It’s the overreaching of government, adding mandate and cost after mandate after cost that is going too far.

The electronic log mandate will have to withstand another court challenge. Beyond the argument of harassment, there were issues like justifying the cost-benefit of the rule and (my personal favorite) protecting the Fourth Amendment right against unlawful searches to be considered that the court didn’t even get to in the last legal challenge.

All that remains to be seen. But, until that all shakes out, proponents need to get the idea out of their heads that electronic logs can’t be cheated with. That, my friends, is something any teenager and few minutes of poking around could figure out.