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California Protects Black-Box Data Privacy 262

Posted by timothy
from the lots-of-little-brothers dept.
Snowgen writes "According to a story at SFGate.com, California has recently passed a law regulating the little black boxes found in many modern automobiles. The new law requires that manufacturers disclose the existence of such boxes in the vehicle's operators' manual. The law also prohibits the use of data from such boxes without a court order or the permission of the vehicle's owner, unless the data is used in such a way that it can not be traced back to the owner."
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California Protects Black-Box Data Privacy

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  • Another article..... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by elid (672471) <eli...ipod@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @08:54PM (#7039481)
    ...can be found here [bayarea.com].
  • Yeah, well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ralico (446325) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @08:54PM (#7039486) Homepage Journal
    The new law requires that manufacturers disclose the existence of such boxes in the vehicle's operators' manual

    Who reads the manual?
    • Re:Yeah, well (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cgranade (702534)
      Me. It's important to know all about the car. I don't know about anyone else, but I always try to read manuals.
    • A wave of car manufactures will put stickers on the steering wheel saying "RTFM n00b".
    • Re:Yeah, well (Score:3, Informative)

      by BitterOak (537666)
      Who reads the manual?

      And what's more important, does the manual explain how to turn the system off? And is the system tied in with some critical safety system such as airbags, so that turning off the system will possibly be illegal or at the very least unsafe? I'd like to see the law say that drivers have the option to turn this unit off without compromising vehicle safety features.

    • Well, you might prefer "man Saturn.Ion" but I don't mind paper disclosure. What I do mind is requiring it in the manual, instead of as a separate piece of paper, like errata. This will have the effect of making that notice appear nationwide, and while I do think the warning is laudable, one state imposing its will on all of the others in that way isn't.
  • Yea, (Score:4, Funny)

    by gsparrow (696382) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @08:54PM (#7039488) Homepage
    Finally a reason to be proud of california
    • Thank the recall (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tailhook (98486)
      Davis took a big hit with motorists when he jacked up license fees. He's trying to mitigate that damage. You have the recall to thank for that, and anything other pro-motorist acts that mysteriously get signed during the next two weeks. Feel free to fall for it.
  • Removal (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bossesjoe (675859)
    I wonder if the cars work without the box? If they do I'll just take mine out
    • Re:Removal (Score:4, Informative)

      by macdaddy (38372) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:17PM (#7039664) Homepage Journal
      My understanding is that they are quickly becoming an intrigal part of the on-board computer. If that's true then removal might not be very safe and would definitely void your warranty....
      • Re:Removal (Score:5, Informative)

        by ralphus (577885) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @10:05PM (#7039955)
        no, you wouldn't definately void your warranty. The Magnunson Moss warranty act (federal law) makes it illegal for manufacturers to automatically void your warranty based on modifications you make excepting that they can prove the modification you made was the cause of the failure.

        see: US Code Title 15, Chapter 60, sections 2301-2312 [cornell.edu]

        I've been making modifications to my vehicles for years, and never had warranty claims problems on other ares of the vehicle. I've completely replaced the *entire* computer on my ducati and it's still covered. The new computer is not, but the rest of the bike that the manufacturer provided is.

    • Considering that the fuel injection and electronic ignition need a computer to work, I would say not at all. It's not a separate black box, it's built in to the engine computer.
    • by silverhalide (584408) on Wednesday September 24, 2003 @01:33AM (#7041036)
      The "Black Box" system that everyone is crying about is part of the OBDII standard, or On Board Diagnostics that all cars produced since the early 90's are required to support. This is a set of standards that includes what data is to be accessible via diagnostics. There are several modes of retrieving data, and they are all intended for aiding in diagnosing the emissions welness of the vehicle as well as other faults your vehilce may encounter. The feature that has everyone up in arms is the "Freeze frame data" feature of OBD-II. What this does is, whenever there is a sensor fault (Ie: front of your car gets blown up in a collision, or something simple like your Oxygen sensor goes bad), the previous 5-30 seconds of data (varies depending on the car) is logged to *aid the technitian* in diagnosing the fault. Unfortunately, someone figured out that when you get in a wreck, there's usually some sort of sensor fault, and the car's computer conviently records a lot of variables relevent to the collision.

      It is impossible to remove this "black box" because on any car that supports OBD, *EVERY* computer in the car logs some sort of data. The important stuff is logged in the same computer that controls how your engine runs. It IS possible to clear the data using a diagnostic tool designed to do so. See the SAE J1979 standard if you're interested learning how to do this.
  • Damn... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @08:56PM (#7039499)
    Getting Rid of Spam, *AND* protecting us from little black boxes. I'm starting to dig this whole recall thing...

    It sure is helping us little guys...
  • I didn't even know this data was being collected. I'm not sure anything bad is happening with it, however. In fact, it could be good for impartial descriptions of accidents. But with the potential for misuse, and my natural distrust of people, I'm not sure I would like it either way.
    • I would wonder about what kind of data is being collected anyway. Voice data? Gauge readings? Hell, external video streams? One does wonder...
      • most of it is mundane. O2 levels, fuel readings, etc. It records speed, however, as its useful for a bunch of various calculations (like optimal fuel consumption).

        So what these are used for is say you get in a fatal wreck and claim you were doing 45 mph. Witnesses disagree and say you were doing a more reckless 70. Who's to say? Well, the data contained by the car's computer isn't going to lie. It means the difference between accident and manslaughter, in some cases.

  • by Dark Coder (66759) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @08:58PM (#7039518)
    Shoot.

    How the heck am I going to determine if my kids have been:

    1. speeding
    2. not wearing seatbelt
    3. popping air-bags
    4. drifting
    5. figure-eighting
    6. parking off a secluded roadside

    Big brother, I miss ya!

    • Re:Dang nammit! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by FyreFiend (81607) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:00PM (#7039542)
      Easy. Ask yourself, "Did I do that at thair age?" If the answer's yes, then odds are they're doing it
    • If you were hoping that the black boxes would help you spy on your kids, think again. The recorded information in the black boxes can be downloaded only after a crash.

      At that point, you'll probably be able to find much more compelling evidence that something was amiss... like the smoldering ruins of your new Buick.

    • It says you can't use it without a court order or permission of the owner. If you own the car your kid's using it seems trivial to prove you consent to your own snooping.
    • Check out some of the portable GPS units. Some can easly be stashed under the dash and will record a track with speed & elevation info. Tuck it up behind the glove box just under the plastic dash. Set it to record .1 mile intervals. Speed can be calculated from the time between points. Retrieve it later and find out how long they were stopped beside the road instead of being at the movies.. It's great for the for the paranoid parent. A set of batteries are good for up to 12-16 hours for many portab
  • this thread becomes yet another "what about terrorists" thread.
  • by Large Green Mallard (31462) <lgm@theducks.org> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:02PM (#7039556) Homepage
    So what they mean is, unless you get sued... You crash a car into someone. You say you were going under the limit, the insurance company knows your car has one of these black boxes in it. Insurance company says to court "we don't think he was going the limit due to skid marks/someone saying he looked like he was going pretty fast/previous record", gets court order, information obtained, insurance claim denied. say the person you hit wants a piece of the actio, they say "his insurance company isn't paying out, I think he was going too fast, give me the black box data", gets a court order, sues your ass off.

    So basically it's as useful as the constitutional amendments that begin "Congress shall make no law..." and end in "unless it makes a law that says it can"
    • by realdpk (116490) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:11PM (#7039627) Homepage Journal
      So, you're saying, you want to be able to lie to your insurance company, and then the court, about how fast you were going?

      Now, I'm not a fan of this black box thing, but I don't think you're going to win much sympathy here.
      • my concern with this is that it won't be bi-directional. it seems that there is every opportunity to have the black box used against you (i.e. the insurance company looking to prove you were speeding), but i somehow doubt that they will rush out to tell you about the black box that might prove that you were not. and i can't wait for the insurance company lawyers to try to toss the box out by claiming whatever when it doesn't read in their favor.

        eric
        • Well in a lawsuit, you're welcome to bring your own exhibits. I don't think there's a law against accessing your own data, so have the dealer or whoever access it and submit it for the court to see. I think this could actually be pretty useful for both sides. And if another post is correct and it only captures the last 5sec or so before airbag deployment, I don't think there's much room for abuse there.

          As for the lawyers trying to get it tossed out...well, I guess whether that works would depend on the
        • then clearly... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rebelcool (247749)
          before going to court *you* should get your box's data analyzed by a third party. Obviously you have a right to view the data contained within your own automobile. This law doesn't restrict your personal use.

      • No, not at all, but my point is that this new law would be useless for all intents and purposes.
    • Or, more acurately, unless you were acting illegally.

      If the device aids in actually implementing a law, isn't that fine? Or do you like the idea of being hit by a speeding motorist and not being allowed to prove he was speeding?
  • Why the hoopla? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hoggerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:03PM (#7039568) Journal
    Driving a vehicle on a public road is an eminently public act, and those who do it shall have no more expectations of privacy than someone picking his nose in front of Sack's Fifth Avenue on the morning rush-hour.

    The collection of vehicle control evidence is a crucial step in the investigation of traffic accidents. Sheltering that information from the authorities has only one purpose, to shield delinquent drivers from retribution for their unlawful acts.

    Even moreso, vehicular event recorders should hold at least 30 minutes of data, including video data, and be downloadable at distance by law enforcement.

    Shall we also say again that driving a car is a mere PRIVILEGE and far from being a right????

    • Re:Why the hoopla? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cgranade (702534) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {edanargc}> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:09PM (#7039606) Homepage Journal

      The collection of vehicle control evidence is a crucial step in the investigation of traffic accidents. Sheltering that information from the authorities has only one purpose, to shield delinquent drivers from retribution for their unlawful acts.
      I think we've already been through the loop about "If you aren't ${someevilthing}, then you have nothing to worry about." Well, haven't you ever been late to a critical meeting and gone 10mph above the limit? Haven't you ever forgotten to buckle your seatbelt? And don't even get me started on video/audio data collection... My conversations within a car are indeed private, and should not be accesible by the police, the SS or DHS, or what ever. Especially not at-a-distance-we-don't-have-to-tell-you-PATRIOT-AC T-style.

      Shall we also say again that driving a car is a mere PRIVILEGE and far from being a right????
      That very well may be, and probably is, but the possesion of that privilege does not nullify a more fundamental right to privacy.

      • Well, haven't you ever been late to a critical meeting and gone 10mph above the limit? Haven't you ever forgotten to buckle your seatbelt?

        Despite having "good" reasons for doing these things, they're still unsafe and illegal. If you speed and/or don't wear your seatbelt, that information SHOULD be accessable in the case of an accident because they are quite relevant to who is at fault, and why injuries were sustained. This information is essential in determining true and fair damages. There's not alway
        • Despite having good reasons for doing these things, they're still unsafe and illegal.

          " Rien ne sert de courir, iil faut partir point ". (It is useless to run, you have to leave on time) One's lateness is no excuse to break the law.

          If you speed and/or don't wear your seatbelt, that information SHOULD be accessable in the case of an accident because they are quite relevant to who is at fault, and why injuries were sustained. This information is essential in determining true an

          • Think of the little black box as your little cop friend who never leaves you...

            Are you volunteering to have a cop monitor you physically, 24/7, to make sure that you never do anything illegal? If not, then you are hypocrite, and you should get off your horse.

            Oh, and by the way: stalking is illegal, so it's your point that is invalid.

            • Think of the little black box as your little cop friend who never leaves you...

              Are you volunteering to have a cop monitor you physically, 24/7, to make sure that you never do anything illegal? If not, then you are hypocrite, and you should get off your horse.

              When I'm on the road? Well, there, I don't have any expectation of privacy, so I cannot lament the loss of something I never had. But in any case, I do not drive a car (nor ride a horse). But I certainly will not w

        • "
          Despite having "good" reasons for doing these things, they're still unsafe"

          Not necessarily. In many municipalities, speed limits are intentionally set lower than the safe "graded" speed of a given road to generate revenue. Studies have shown that the official "Graded" speed of a given road is close to the speed that the average driver feels comfortable/safe. By setting a lower speed limit, the municipality can generate revenue by ticketing drivers who drive with traffic, or drive at the "comfortable" spee
      • Re:Why the hoopla? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hoggerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @10:28PM (#7040085) Journal

        Well, haven't you ever been late to a critical meeting and gone 10mph above the limit? Haven't you ever forgotten to buckle your seatbelt?

        Do not cast the first stone, O sinner, for I am totally sinless in that respect; I do not have a car, nor ever intend to have one. And I cannot stand being in a car without wearing a seat-belt.

        And don't even get me started on video/audio data collection... My conversations within a car are indeed private, and should not be accesible by the police, the SS or DHS, or what ever. Especially not at-a-distance-we-don't-have-to-tell-you-PATRIOT-AC T-style.

        Oh, I'm not talking about recording what you DO, but recording what you SEE from the windscreen... The idea is to see whether you drive like a fool or you simply avoided the other fool who drives like one.

        Shall we also say again that driving a car is a mere PRIVILEGE and far from being a right????

        That very well may be, and probably is, but the possesion of that privilege does not nullify a more fundamental right to privacy.

        It most definitely **IS**. You can't drive without a license, and you can't have a license without displaying a minimal amount of understanding of the traffic laws and how to handle your vehicle. Abuse that privilege by driving recklessly, and you'll see it pulled from you presto.

        • I do not have a car, nor ever intend to have one.

          Oh, that's comforting. It's OK for everyone else to lose their privacy, no big deal.

          That very well may be, and probably is, but the possesion of that privilege does not nullify a more fundamental right to privacy.

          It most definitely **IS**.

          Uh, classic example of reading what you expected your opponent to say rather then what they did say. Re-read that more closely.... or perhaps for the first time. Your opponent never claimed that driving was anyth

          • Re:Why the hoopla? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Pig Hogger (10379)

            I do not have a car, nor ever intend to have one.

            Oh, that's comforting. It's OK for everyone else to lose their privacy, no big deal.

            What privacy? There never, ever, was any privacy, nor any to be expected, when publicly driving a car in plain public view in the middle of a street.

            That very well may be, and probably is, but the possesion of that privilege does not nullify a more fundamental right to privacy.
            It most definitely **IS**.

            There was never, ever, any ki

    • Re:Why the hoopla? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Waffle Iron (339739) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:18PM (#7039670)
      Even moreso, vehicular event recorders should hold at least 30 minutes of data, including video data, and be downloadable at distance by law enforcement.

      That's fine by me, but only so long as I'm allowed to remotely download the black box of any police car whenever I choose.

    • Re:Why the hoopla? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bagheera (71311) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:32PM (#7039743) Homepage Journal
      Driving a vehicle on a public road is an eminently public act, and those who do it shall have no more expectations of privacy than someone picking his nose in front of Sack's Fifth Avenue on the morning rush-hour.

      True, it is an eminently public act. HOWEVER, to abuse your Fifth Ave analogy, picking your nose at 0237 is a more or less private act because you have a reasonable expectation that no one will see you do it.

      The collection of vehicle control evidence is a crucial step in the investigation of traffic accidents. Sheltering that information from the authorities has only one purpose, to shield delinquent drivers from retribution for their unlawful acts.

      Certainly AFTER THERE HAS BEEN AN ACCIDENT. Which is what this California law is intended to protect. Your remote download proposal leads down the slippery slope of downloading your logs and fining you based on infractions that it recorded.

      Yes, there are traffic laws. But the fact is nearly everyone pushes them to one extant or another. Whether it's 5 miles an hour over - or 15 over because that's how fast traffic is going. Most traffic laws are in place to guard the public safety. It's been shown in numerous studies (look them up) that it's the DIFFERENCE in speed between vehicles, not the absolute speed that matters.

      There's a reason the California Highway Patrol will cruise merrily past a pack of cars travelling at 72 in a 65 zone. They are all technically speeding, but none of them are posing a hazard.

      (Of course, CA doesn't use Highway Patrol fines as a major revenue stream as some other states do.)

      What this law should do is prevent municipalities and insurance companies et al from abusing the data gathered with the cars onboard systems. Your suggestion reeks of Big Brother.

      Regretably, unless more people stand up for their civil liberties, we'll see just the kind of invasive data collection you propose.

      Shall we also say again that driving a car is a mere PRIVILEGE and far from being a right????

      No argument there. But I won't go into my argument about why it should be considerably more difficult to get a license in the first place. Simple fact is that if drivers were better trained, traffic incidents would drop dramatically.

      • Re:Why the hoopla? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by xplenumx (703804)
        Yes, there are traffic laws. But the fact is nearly everyone pushes them to one extant or another.

        Absolutely. However, should one choose to break the law and that choice becomes a contributing factor in an accident, then the individual should be held responsible for making that choice.

      • Driving a vehicle on a public road is an eminently public act

        True, it is an eminently public act. HOWEVER, to abuse your Fifth Ave analogy, picking your nose at 0237 is a more or less private act because you have a reasonable expectation that no one will see you do it.

        So, basically, it's okay to break the law when you don't get caught?

        You are therefore advocating lawlessness?

        Certainly AFTER THERE HAS BEEN AN ACCIDENT. Which is what this California law is intended to pro

    • by PotatoHead (12771) <doug AT opengeek DOT org> on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @10:26PM (#7040067) Homepage Journal
      We have the right to travel freely. Driving is a form of transportation. Is it realistic to say that someone does not need to drive in society today in general? For a large percentage of us, driving is something we need to be able to do.

      Not being able to drive is a pretty serious limit on ones freedom to travel.

      If driving is indeed a right, by nature, why then do we license it? Safety. Those that do drive have a reasonable expectation of safe roads and qualified drivers. Driving is a right that can be lost if exercised irresponsibly just as many other rights can be.

      Let me put it this way. If someone demonstrates they are qualified to drive, is there a reason why they should not get a license? Do they have any expectation such denial will occur? Of course not because everyone has a right to drive provided they do not abuse other people rights while exercising theirs. (Hitting someone with your car infringes on their right to live and prosper for example.)

      We deny someone their ability to drive as punishment for poor execution, not because we can. Same for other rights. You might lose your right to move freely if you use that right to kill someone for example. 'nuff said about that, either we agree or not, but I wanted to have the other view present on this thread.

      I agree with you regarding driving being a public act, however that does not, in itself, support your idea that law enforcement should be able to access this device at a distance. I think it does support the traffic accident reporting particularly when people are killed. The survivors or other interested parties need to know what happened so the correct decisions can be made. Nothing but good there.

      The main problem I have with your distance query is the same problem I have with automated speed detectors; namely, that we should be judged by our peers. That is how the law is written and it is one of the founding principles of this country.

      Getting a ticket for doing 5 miles over by an automated machine is simply a tax, nothing more. Think about it. What is punishment without explanation. It's cruel and pointless.

      Getting that same ticket because a warm body thought you might deserve it (or not) for some reason is being judged by your peers. That peer who chooses, or not, to write you that ticket will, in the case of writing it, let you know why it is being done and what you should do to avoid having it happen again. That action is what justice and law enforcement are all about. Those same actions can be shown to benefit society in a measurable way.

      Those tickets from the automated machine, justifed or not, are simply a tax because no justice was done, no peer involvment took place; thus no corrective action and benefit to society will happen as a result.

      So, a cop might download the last 20 minutes of driving. Lets say they do it right after people have traveled down an incline. Every last one of them will be speeding somewhat because that is what the vehicle naturally wants to do in that case. Our law enforcement could then write a ticket, or heck mail a bunch of them without having seen or judged the act.

      A possible result: Navigating in traffic down an incline gets more dangerous as everyone concentrates on over control of their vehicle fearing an unwarranted ticket instead of the task at hand; namely, getting down that incline along with everyone else in an orderly manner.

      This is exactly why I choose older cars. I can know completly the technologies used and how they will affect me. You don't want too old of a car because you lose the benefit of ongoing engineering however.

      Good for California, they want people to know they might be judged in an automated fashion. Knowing the device is there makes a difference in how people react to it. This goes to another right we should have:

      We all should have the right of full disclosure on any technology we make use of. If it does something without telling us, it is doing something wrong and potentially harmful that we should know about.

      • We have the right to travel freely. Driving is a form of transportation. Is it realistic to say that someone does not need to drive in society today in general? For a large percentage of us, driving is something we need to be able to do.

        Okay. Show me where in the Bill of Rights or the Constitution where car driving is deemed to be an inalienable right, and I'll buy you a beer.

        Not being able to drive is a pretty serious limit on ones freedom to travel.

        Not my problem. If you have

        • You, as the driver, have to be in absolute control of your speed at all times. If you are unable to do so, you are unfit for the road!!!

          Have you ever actually driven? I don't know about you, but I like to occasionally look at the road, instead of staring fixedly at my spedometer. This means that my speed will, on occasion, drift slightly (even if I had "absolute control" over every muscle in my body, there would be variations when I, say, hit a pot-hole and am bounced slightly). This is true for every

          • You, as the driver, have to be in absolute control of your speed at all times. If you are unable to do so, you are unfit for the road!!!

            Have you ever actually driven? I don't know about you, but I like to occasionally look at the road, instead of staring fixedly at my spedometer. This means that my speed will, on occasion, drift slightly (even if I had absolute control over every muscle in my body, there would be variations when I, say, hit a pot-hole and am bounced s

      • This post is flawed. Terribly. Insightful indeed.

        We have the right to travel freely.
        and then:
        If driving is indeed a right, by nature...

        To quote the slashdot crowd and The Princess Bride...You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.

        Is traveling a natural right? I defer to a one Thomas Paine to straighten out your misunderstanding of "rights"

        "Natural rights are those which appertain to man in right of his existence. Of this kind are all the intellectual rights, or right

      • We have the right to travel freely.

        Yes, we do.

        Driving is a form of transportation.

        Yes, it is. But only one form.

        Not being able to drive is a pretty serious limit on ones freedom to travel.

        Here, we depart. You may travel freely upon any public road. You may be a passenger, take a bus, ride a bike, crawl....all without hinderance.
        Due to the damage and injury potential, you must be licensed to operate a motor vehicle.

        Since such license can be taken away (or not issued in the first place) due t
    • However, the car is my private property, and the contents of the computer are not readily accesible to observers (who are not breaking the law). Just as in my home, searching the computer in my car should be protected by the 4th Amendment.

      It's not like law enforcement CANT get a court order when necessary. It will just discourage them from routinely snooping where it's not warrented.

      Want to search my home? get a warrent. Want to search my computer? do the same. If you don't have justification, you won't g
      • However, the car is my private property, and the contents of the computer are not readily accesible to observers (who are not breaking the law). Just as in my home, searching the computer in my car should be protected by the 4th Amendment.

        The operation of your car is done on PUBLIC roads. So the public has the RIGHT to know what you do with your private property while travelling over public property.

        And, just as your license plates are the property of the State, the event recorde

        • "The operation of your car is done on PUBLIC roads. So the public has the RIGHT to know what you do with your private property while travelling over public property."

          BZZT Law enforcement has no right to use my private property to collect information regarding my activities.

          The Amendment preventing unwarrented search and seizure was created to prevent a police body that suspected a subject of a particular crime from searching, and continuing to search until they found him guilty of some crime or other, whe
          • The operation of your car is done on PUBLIC roads. So the public has the RIGHT to know what you do with your private property while travelling over public property.

            BZZT Law enforcement has no right to use my private property to collect information regarding my activities.

            BZZZT! Thanks for playing! <bitchy limey voice>You're the weakest link</bitchy limey voice>!!!
            The event recorder is not be your property. It is the property of the State, just like the

    • 1) First off, I don't what makes you think that because the law says driving is a priviledge, that it should be a priviledge. It's always the "right" that argues circularly that a) they hate the government, but b) selectively we should agree with their values because some parts of government says so [ we should agree with it because its the -law- ].

      If we want to make driving a right, we can.

      2) "You're right to privacy serves no purpose but to hide..."

      I'll take that logic and use that for all information
    • by stewby18 (594952)

      Downloading content on a public network is an eminently public act, and those who do it shall have no more expectations of privacy than someone picking his nose in front of Sack's Fifth Avenue on the morning rush-hour.

      The subpenaing of personally identifying information is a crucial step in the investigation of copyright violations. Sheltering that information from the RIAA has only one purpose, to shield delinquent downloaders from retribution for their unlawful acts.

      Even moreso, all online activities

      • Do you really espouse the complete desctruction of the idea of anonymity in our society, in place of a big-brotheresque system that enforces total accountability of everything?

        There never was any kind of anonymity when addressing the PUBLIC ACTIONS of an individual driving an automobile on PUBLIC ROADS. Those actions are open to the scrutiny of everyone there, from bystanders wishing to avoid being run-over by automobiles, to traffic police officers who are there to reprimand drivers

  • by product byproduct (628318) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:03PM (#7039569)
    The manufacturer could paint the box blue.
  • Okay, but... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fnkmaster (89084) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:04PM (#7039574)
    How exactly was the data going to get used without a court order? I mean I would be concerned if I were in a car accident or something that this data could be used against me, but it sounds like it still can, if the court orders it. Maybe it should be mandatory that you be allowed to deactivate or remove these things, like you can with airbags. I like the idea of at least being able to opt-out of the monitoring of my car's usage in any way.


    Now if only the government gave the foggiest shit about electronic privacy. People understand "little black box sitting in your car", and they just don't seem to get the other privacy atrocities that go on every day.

    • Your dealer could use the info in device for marketing reasons. Most cars store last service, they could use that marketing, and if the car manufactors decided to store more info. There is no law saying that the dealer could also use this info and sell it to other people. Thats why this law was needed.
    • My personal attitude on the subject...

      If i'm dead due to car wreck... they can have the data. I'm not going to care, might as well figure out why i'm dead.

      If i'm alive, then not without a court order. This is reasonable because this is MY data.

      Maybe it should be mandatory that you be allowed to deactivate or remove these things, like you can with airbags.

      You can do this NOW with airbags because they have been proven to be unsafe for small children, not sure how specific the reg is, as in can you dis
  • Good for them (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:07PM (#7039590)
    California is a weird state but sometimes ... they get things right. I'm impressed (and a bit shaken ... I didn't know the OBD modules were being used that way.)
  • AB 213 (Score:4, Informative)

    by minesweeper (580162) * on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:09PM (#7039610) Homepage
    For those interested, here is a link to the text of Assembly Bill 213, sponsored by Assemblyman Tim Leslie:

    CA Assembly Bill 213 [ca.gov]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:10PM (#7039614)
    ...if my insurance company in exchange would give me a sizable break on my $$$ premiums.
    • That's how it'll start off--it'll be a discount. Eventually, everyone will be eligible for the discount, and premiums will bubble up to the same level as before. In effect, there will be a surcharge for not allowing your insurance company access to your black box.
  • Check:
    http://slate.msn.com/id/2087207/
    http://w ww.accidentreconstruction.com/research/edr /faq.asp

    They use the OBD-II interface (Same interface the DEQ guys use to make sure your car isn't pumping out too many noxious fumes.) 5 seconds of data are stored in an EEPROM.
  • The place where this would most likely and most often be used would be auto accidents. This is not a question of the state vs an individual, its a question of an individual vs an individual with the state trying to determine the correct state of affairs. As someone who was in an accident, and had the ticket wrongly awarded to him I welcome this. Next time I won't have to worry about someone having their family members lie that they were watching someone pull out from an apt building when they were thireen f
  • Great Idead (Score:3, Informative)

    by niko9 (315647) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:16PM (#7039657)
    The new law requires that manufacturers disclose the existence of such boxes in the vehicle's operators' manual.

    Great idea. People should know that there's a balck box in their car. Maybe they'll think twice about that reckeless maneuver their going to pull.

    A previous poster mentioned dupe, this is not. The previous article [slashdot.org] mentioned how someone was convicted of killing somone 'cause they decided to do ~100 mph down a 25mph resedential street.

    Hypothetical future dialog: "Hey son, I trust you and all, but be aware that fi you do try to show off to your prom date tonight, and maybe, umm I dunno, kill someone while your at it, that blackbox recorder could put you away for a long time. Here are the keys, by the way."

    Maybe some of this info could also be used to help prosecute people who stage accidents for insurance fruad. I get so sick of seeing these thigs happening. 6 people all loaded up in 2 cars, they bump at 10mph, cry neck and back pain, but they have no idead who they are sitting next to in the same vehicle!
    • I forget the name of it. But there are currently data recorders on the market which plug into the OBDII and save the data - one is specifically marketed to households with teenage drivers.

      Car tuners have for quite awhile been using similar systems.

  • by utexaspunk (527541) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:24PM (#7039696)
    ...it could be very useful if manufacturers could get black-box telemetry in an anonymous way. think of how much we've learned from black-boxes about airplane crashes, why they happen, and how to prevent them.

    there could perhaps be engineering flaws which would could be revealed a lot sooner by analyzing black-box data, possibly saving lives.
    • Most vehicles computers store the last few seconds of data, but a few are outfitted with recorders that save the data if an airbag is deployed. The manufacturers can use this data to perform analysis on what the cars were doing and so on.

      I believe Volvo goes so far as to dispatch an 'accident team' if a wreck involving one of their cars occurs within a few kilometers of their safety division headquarters. They find out what happened, how the car reacted, etc.
  • by IBitOBear (410965) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:33PM (#7039750) Homepage Journal
    They should have also protected "the operator" of the vehicle.

    This does nothig to protect a person from the abuse of the information when they Rent a car (c.f. the story of the "speeding penalty" enacted by the one rental agency) or when a person has a "company car".

    Finally, one wonders whether this separates the purchasers and leasees of cars into two separately and unequally protected classes.

    After all, if you lease a car, your leasing company owns it. So the police could end-around and make a request of them to access the black-box.

    Then again, section 215 [aclu.org] lets the FBI do any dang thing they want in the search and seizure arena despite the Constitution.

  • by Daniel Quinlan (153105) on Tuesday September 23, 2003 @09:35PM (#7039763) Homepage
    I'll be honest. I do not want any data recording devices in my car because the information gathered by the box could be held against me in any number of ways. Maybe it can improve car safety over time, but with vehicle laws and civil lawsuits being the way they are, I don't want the equivalent of the permanent wire-tap on my driving. If the data is there and any legal situation comes up where it could be useful, it will be used and if these devices are regulated into cars, you won't have any choice about it (obstruction of justice, destroying evidence, anti-tampering laws, etc.).

    There might be some number of times where the devices could be used to prove your innocence or lack of liability, but I'd rather take my chances without the devices. I mean, how often does anyone really drive the speed limit on the highway?

    Of course, my 2002 probably already has something of the sort and I'm probably just ignorant about it. Anyway, I think car safety can be improved over time almost as well without the boxes and the adjoining less of privacy.

    • They have to, for the fundamental operation of the engine.

      Your engine computer contains some non-voltile memory that saves any error codes your engine may throw up (misfire, malfunctioning O2 sensor, emissions problem..anything that causes your 'check engine' light to come on) so your mechanical can quickly diagnose problems. For economical reasons, they usually use this same nvram chip to hold the running data for the engine. O2 readings, fuel data and of course, Speed, because vehicle speed is integra

  • mod the box (Score:2, Interesting)

    This is the first I've even heard of the box, but what's to keep someone from modding the input so ANY accident looks like they were sitting still? Heck, mod the box, pull up to the light in front of a guy you hate, slam into him in reverse, then use the box to sue his pants off.

    The court shouldn't use a device like this without the appropriate wariness to it's vulnerabilities.
  • One way to derive benefits from the statistics while protecting drivers from their own vehicles would be for the boxes to introduce the occasional error into the data - outliers will be filtered out when the stats are processed, but the figures will no longer be able to be trusted for avoiding claims and the like. If the information's recorded accurately, it's there to be abused.
  • The motivation (Score:2, Interesting)

    by asbestos_lead (691863)
    Odd how fast consumer protection legislation gets passed when a congresscritter happens to be involved:
    Recently, South Dakota police tried to get data to show whether Rep. Bill Janklow had run a stop sign before he struck and killed a motorcyclist.

  • Define Speeding (Score:2, Insightful)

    by alphax45 (675119)
    Who's to say what is speeding? Without data to confirm the speed of the cars around you, who's to say you were just not keeping up with traffic? On most roads/highways (at least here in Ontario) a slower driver is more likely to cause accidents due to pissed off people trying to pass. Unless there is data regarding the speed of everyone around you, your argument can just be "I was just going as fast as everyone around me". There would be no way to prove either side of this 100% without data from all the car
  • How about a little button connected to the battery and the 'box' that destroys the box utterly or erases the NVRAM? The thing is, if you're involved in an accident - nothing short of an EM pulse will take care of the other car's 'box'.

    Information can be gleaned from that and the scene of the accident can be reconstructed from that.

    Of course, the lawyers (and trolls) will say that those who have nothing to hide shouldn't have to destroy the info.

    Drive cars that don't have boxes. Until those are illegal

  • I'm still convinced that we're headed toward having these things in all of cars.
    We'll probably have our speeds monitored (and our insurance companies notified or even worse, our bank accounts debited) in real time.
    Nothing we can do about it. The roads will still have posted speed limits of 55, even though the practical speed of traffic flow is closer to 70. Care to complain? Hey - you were speeding, we have the black box to prove it. Great source of revenue for the states and insurance companies for
  • Just a note : if a black box is wiretapping, this would be like having a wiretap on EVERY telephone in the U.S., except that it can "only" be read with a court order. So, the moment the authorities find "reason" (basically anything) to suspect you, they know everything you said BEFORE the court order as well. Is this right? No idea, the argument most people would make is "you have nothing to fear if you're innocent".

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley

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