"Obama's An Idiot" is where my political bitches now live. Go ye thereto and read.

Friday, January 06, 2006

More Big Brother

I posted about this back in March. At least my home state passed a law which lets me decide whether to let them have the info or not.

From USA Today:
It's common knowledge that airplanes have 'black boxes' that record flight data so safety experts can reconstruct what went wrong after an accident. But few motorists are aware that their late-model cars contain similar devices - and that police and insurers might use the data against them.

Six states (Arkansas, California, Nevada, New York, North Dakota and Texas) have recently passed laws requiring that automakers notify motorists of the devices, known as event data recorders (EDRs), and limiting access to them. Nevada's law, which took effect Jan. 1, requires the owner's permission before data can be retrieved.
Thank the gods. If I could remove it without disabling my vehicle, I would.
In the absence of any federal guidelines, the states are wise to set some parameters. The devices, the size of a pack of cigarettes, are in more than 70% of all new passenger vehicles, foreign and domestic. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants them in every new car sold in America, but that fortunately hasn't yet happened because of privacy concerns.

EDRs monitor speed, braking, seat-belt use, steering and more. Ideally, the data can sort out responsibility for accidents and lead to improved vehicle design.
Here's a more complete list of what they monitor. And this list is some highlites:
  • Vehicle speed (five seconds before impact)
  • Engine speed (five seconds before impact)
  • Brake status (five seconds before impact)
  • Throttle position (five seconds before impact)
  • State of driver's seat belt switch (On/Off)
  • Passenger's airbag (On/Off)
  • IR Warning Lamp status (On/Off)
  • Time from vehicle impact to airbag deployment
  • Ignition cycle count at event time
  • Ignition cycle count at investigation
  • Maximum velocity for near-deployment event
  • Velocity vs. time for frontal airbag deployment event
  • Time from vehicle impact to time of maximum velocity
  • Time between near-deploy and deploy event (if within five seconds)
But will police download the data to assign blame after a crash? Can auto insurers use the information to raise premiums or cancel policies? Will lawyers demand access in order to sue you or others? The answers are unclear. Few guidelines exist over who owns the data, and court rulings vary.
The answers are unclear? Are you fucking serious? Damn right they'll use the data. Especially insurance companies. They are all too happy to drop you at a moments notice if it's going to cost them money.
With the spread of the devices and NTSB's pressure to mandate them, it's time for the federal government to establish reasonable rules so that all motorists are informed of the devices' presence and who owns them.

EDRs can lead to safety improvements. But it's wrong to demand that motorists ride with a silent snitch under the hood.
Goddamn right it is.

It didn't take much Googling to find out where the one in my Chevy is. You may want to do the same. And find out the privacy rights in your state.


Peggasus said...

That's some scary shit.

Wasn't 1984 like, 22 years ago?

curmudgeon said...

Even worse as the years go by I think.