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Black Boxes In Cars Raise Privacy Concerns 297

hessian writes "In the next few days, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to propose long-delayed regulations requiring auto manufacturers to include event data recorders — better known as 'black boxes' — in all new cars and light trucks. But the agency is behind the curve. Automakers have been quietly tucking the devices, which automatically record the actions of drivers and the responses of their vehicles in a continuous information loop, into most new cars for years. Data collected by the recorders is increasingly showing up in lawsuits, criminal cases and high-profile accidents. Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray initially said that he wasn't speeding and that he was wearing his seat belt when he crashed a government-owned car last year. But the Ford Crown Victoria's data recorder told a different story: It showed the car was traveling more than 100 mph and Murray wasn't belted in."
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Black Boxes In Cars Raise Privacy Concerns

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  • by magamiako1 ( 1026318 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @09:55AM (#42224687)
    Okay, let me break this down for you easily.

    1. Car makers can put whatever devices in their cars they want. It's up to you, the buyer, to either not buy cars with black boxes OR to petition your local/state/federal politicians to make selling cars with black boxes illegal. You have either choice, it's up to you.

    2. Insurance companies can require black boxes in cars if they were factory installed in order to be insured. Though there may be laws that they might be breaking because many states require auto insurance, but I'm not a lawyer. Either way, again, two options: vote with your wallet or make this practice illegal by approaching your politicians.

    3. The aforementioned black box information does not have to be admissible in court for criminal penalties, but insurance companies could black ball you for information obtained from the box. Also, affected victims do have the 100% right to go after you for CIVIL penalties related to any crashes. The only time the 'government' matters is when there is involvement of criminal penalty. A civil court could mandate that the black box information be passed over to the victimized parties for review, or the data retrieved from therein.

    I like how people talk about 'right to privacy' but each example I've mentioned still falls 100% within the boundaries of privacy laws AND more importantly, the US Constitution. Remember, such 'rights' are only granted against GOVERNMENT, but private parties can require whatever the hell they want. You can bitch and moan up a storm about right to privacy and whatnot but remember, private parties have far more leniency compared to personal information. For example, a government might require a warrant to obtain information on you ; but a PI can do whatever they please. The only reason a PI is limited is because someone somewhere said it was fucked up and got laws added.
  • Re:Seatbelt? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PlusFiveTroll ( 754249 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:36AM (#42224889) Homepage

    That's the particular problem with this 'black box' is people are going to think it's like an airplanes black box. Airplanes have people looking at them to make sure all the sensors are working. Your car, maybe once a year at inspection. I have an older car that the seat belt sensor sometimes says I'm not buckled in, which is wrong, I feel naked without the buckle on. But, if I got in a wreck and the sensor showed me not buckled in, I'd have a job of proving I was.

    I have a feeling that lawyers will turn this in to a fiasco of prove your 'black box' isn't making shit up, in which they will be right to do.

  • by Yetihehe ( 971185 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:38AM (#42224907)

    Recently Germany installed some plate reading cameras near border with Poland to help looking for stolen cars. It didn't yet catch any stolen car, but did catch two drivers without valid insurance. Your theory is already happening.

  • Re:About time (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tibit ( 1762298 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:51AM (#42225011)

    What's wrong with right turn on red? You look around, if the way is clear, you go. Simple enough.

    The major difference between the European and U.S. approach is that stricter licensing laws would pretty much put a large part of population out of work. In most European cities you can live just fine without a car. For the majority of the U.S. population: forget it. You won't get your groceries, you won't get to work, you won't be able to do anything much. Sometimes you won't even be able to go for a walk.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @02:20PM (#42226409)

    I would like to say thank you for pointing this out!! It goes both ways! It can help prove your innocence as well!

    As someone who was involved in a fatal traffic accident where a 14 year old boy skateboarded out into the middle of the road in front of my truck(it was pitch dark out, the kid was wearing ALL black with no protection crossing a busy/main 4 lane road, oh and from the toxicology report, stoned off his ass), without that black box in my truck I would be in jail for manslaughter right now. The reasons for such is that the police were able to identify 1) Speed information before and after crash 2) Braking information - When did I apply my brakes, How long did it take to reach a complete stop, etc. 3) Steering Information/Angle 4) Seat belt information 5)Impact information and with this information they were able to ascertain that there was no possible way for me to stop in time without my prior speed having been an endangerment to other drivers (35 in a 55 zone to have stopped in time based on where I was first able to see the kid).

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