Almost every interactive electronic device forces you to make a tradeoff decision between convenience and protecting your legal rights, including the right to privacy …
Verizon has entered the vehicle monitoring space occupied by OnStar and other similar services that have access to your vehicle’s computer and GPS system through the onboard diagnostic port. In fact, this device is smarter than the obsolete OnStar mirror system because it has access to your vehicle’s performance parameters and error codes. The built-in OnStar system tracked error codes, but they often demanded you visit a GM dealer and refused to provide the decoded error message over the phone.
A recent Verizon commercial asks if you would like to set speed limits on your teenager or track their locations …
If the video does not appear on the email version of the post, it can be found here.
But what equipment and software vendors do not seem to mention is that the use of this technology can put you at legal risk for damages and denial of insurance coverage in the case of an accident.
Not only could an investigator, insurer, or participant in an accident obtain a subpoena to get speed, braking, seatbelt, and other information … but they could also prove that the driver generally drove in an unsafe manner and may be guilty of reckless conduct. And, as a parent, having prior knowledge of your child’s driving behavior could also put you at risk for not taking corrective action.
This is the same type of device that insurers are trying to tie to insurance rates based on your driving habits – not to mention governments considering this type of technology to collect “per mile” taxes to replace the lost revenue when people drive less, use electric vehicles, or purchase newer vehicles that use less fuel. In addition to taxing fuel usage and roadway usage, there is the possibility of using these devices for freeway tolls based on congestion pricing and the collection of parking fees.
Consent to Monitoring and Disclosure
Verizon Telematics is under no obligation to monitor the Content and any other information residing on or transmitted to our servers. However, anyone using this website agrees that Verizon Telematics may monitor the site and its servers contents periodically to (1) comply with any necessary laws, regulations or other governmental requests, (2) operate the website properly or to protect itself and its users. Verizon Telematics reserves the right to modify, reject or eliminate any information residing on or transmitted to its servers that it, in its sole discretion, believes is unacceptable or in violation of these terms and conditions and to suspend or end your access to the site for any operational or governmental reason or violation of these terms and conditions. Unauthorized use of this site or the network infrastructure and/or data display by a person or entity that is not the authorized user of the account is illegal and Verizon Telematics reserves the right to take legal action. <Source>
Bottom line …
It is unknown if Verizon plans to share this information with governmental agencies for safety research or for other purposes. As with most unilateral contracts, you waive most of your rights and have little or no control over the sale or use of your information.
All-in-all, this appears to be a great retrofit item for an older vehicle if you are willing to accept the additional information disclosure risks in return for additional safety and security.
You may want to check with your family attorney to discuss the risks of using onboard electronic devices that can be legally accessed by third-parties. As the Better Business Bureau often says: Investigate BEFORE you invest.
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius