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OBAMA MANDATES BLACK BOX SPY DEVICE FOR YOUR CAR: IT'S YOUR CAR, YOUR DATA -- WHERE ARE YOUR PROPERTY RIGHTS? NHTSA gets White House OK to mandate vehicle 'black boxes'

You purchase the hardware, but it contains licensed software; so who owns the data and the right to access the data? The following story about vehicle black boxes is a clear indication that the law has not caught up with the digital age.

NHTSA gets White House OK to mandate vehicle 'black boxes'

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to finalize a long-awaited proposal to make event data recorders standard on all new vehicles. In a notice posted Thursday, the White House Office of Management Budget said it has completed a review of the proposal to make so-called vehicle "black boxes" mandatory in all cars and trucks, clearing the way for NHTSA to publish its final regulation. Nearly all vehicles currently have the devices.

NHTSA's proposed rule, which would raise the percentage of vehicles required to have an EDR from 91.6 percent today to 100 percent of light-duty autos, would have an incremental cost, assuming the sale of 15.5 million light vehicles per year. In 2010, Congress considered requiring EDRs in all vehicles by legislation.

One can understand the usage of these black boxes when it comes to storing critical performance and maintenance events that allow vehicles to be diagnosed and repaired more quickly. But can you justify such data being used against you in an accident by your insurance company to deny or limit payments, raise your premiums. Or the data being subpoenaed by an opposing party attempting to prove you “at fault” in a court of law. And, heaven forbid, perhaps the information can be used, in conjunction with an embedded GPS capability, to tax you per mile driven, to charge additional fees during specified hours, to impose penalties for driving over the speed limit, etc.

Privacy, what privacy?

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers — the trade group representing Detroit's Big Three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp, and Volkswagen AG — said the government needs to take into account driver privacy. "Event data recorders help our engineers understand how cars perform in the real world but looking forward, we need to make sure we preserve privacy. Automakers do not access EDR data without consumer permission, and any government requirements to install EDRs on all vehicles must include steps to protect consumer privacy," spokeswoman Gloria Bergquist.

This is not true, automakers do access EDR data whenever the car is in the shop, and sometimes without the consumer’s knowledge. How many people remember General Motors’ OnStar system where the executives swore that the device could not be used to listen to car cabin conversations – only to be faced with a court case proving law enforcement authorities used the OnStar system to listen into in-car conversations as part of a wiretap operation. It appears you can not take the word of auto manufacturers or their lobbyists.

The rule, issued in August 2006, took effect for the 2013 model year that started Sept. 1, standardizes the information EDRs collect and makes retrieving the data easier. Devices must record 15 data elements, including vehicle deceleration, in specific formats. The recorders collect data for the seconds of a crash, including whether the drive is wearing a seatbelt, speed and whether the brakes were applied. < Source: NHTSA gets White House OK to mandate vehicle 'black boxes' | The Detroit News>

Bottom line …

Only law enforcement and the insurance companies want to know crash data for the purposes of making the driver’s car testify against them in insurance matters or court cases. In these instances, you may have no right against self-incrimination. In fact, it appears you have little or no privacy rights anyway.

One can just imagine memory sticks being added to the entire system and downloaded at annual insurance checks, smog station tests or uploaded through the vehicles communication system as it passes certain checkpoints.

For years, law enforcement has wanted remote control over your car to disable it in case it is stolen or involved in a police pursuit. Some cars – especially General Motors’ cars now have that capability.

OnStar to Stop Cars Remotely.

Starting with about 20 models for 2009, the service will be able to slowly halt a car that is reported stolen, and the radio may even speak up and tell the thief to pull over because police are watching.Then, if officers see the car in motion and judge it can be stopped safely, they can tell OnStar operators, who will send the car a signal via cell phone to slow it to a halt. "This technology will basically remove the control of the horsepower from the thief,"

[OnStar’s Chet] Huber said. "Everything else in the vehicle works. The steering works. The brakes work." GM is still exploring the possibility of having the car give a recorded verbal warning before it stops moving. A voice would tell the driver through the radio speakers that police will stop the car, Huber said, and the car's emergency flashers would go on. <Source>

We need to demand that the law and legislation keep up with advances in digital technology lest we find we are losing our freedom, one device at a time.

-- steve


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

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