The Dallas Morning News Article should give new car buyers pause

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'Black boxes' in cars raise concerns about privacy Most motorists not aware actions before accidents are recorded 12:00 AM CDT on Sunday, July 2, 2006 By REBECCA CARR Cox News Service WASHINGTON – A privacy battle is brewing over devices being installed in most new cars that record how drivers react in the seconds leading up to accidents. Federal safety experts love the so-called black boxes because they can determine such things as whether drivers in a crash wore seat belts, exceeded the speed limit or accelerated when they should have braked. But privacy groups, consumer advocates and lawmakers say most motorists have no idea that the black boxes are recording their movements. "I am willing to bet that most members of Congress don't know that there are black boxes in most new cars," said Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass. Mr. Capuano is worried that the information will be misused and violate individual privacy rights. "What's next, a GPS [Global Positioning System] in my suit jacket?" he asked. Mr. Capuano plans to introduce legislation with Rep. Mary Bono, R-Calif., in the coming weeks that would require automakers to inform consumers about the existence of the recording devices and how to disable them. The black boxes, formally called "event data recorders" (EDRs), are raising concerns among consumer and privacy rights groups about who can access the collected information and how that information can be used. It's a big issue because the black boxes, which are small enough to hold in your hand, have been installed in an estimated 40 million cars since the mid-1990s. By all accounts, the devices make it easier for police and insurance companies to figure out what went wrong in an accident and who is at fault. Use by insurers Privacy advocates worry that they would allow insurance companies to infer bad driving habits even if a driver has never been cited. That could lead to imposing higher insurance rates or refusing to provide insurance, even though a driver might have a clean record, said Eric Skrum, spokesman for the National Motorists Association, a Wisconsin-based motorists' rights group. "Most people don't know that black boxes exist for cars, so most don't understand the ramifications," Mr. Skrum said. The devices capture up to 10 seconds immediately before an accident and 300 milliseconds of data during an actual crash. Unlike the flight data recorders in airplanes, the boxes do not record conversations or locations of the car. But in the future, Mr. Skrum said, the information could be linked to the Global Positioning System to track where the car went in addition to the driver's behavior. "That information could be shared with your insurance carrier, and your rates can go up," Mr. Skrum said. The insurance industry is taking a wait-and-see approach to the data recorders. It wants to learn how the government will regulate the boxes' use before using their data. "This is not a widespread industry movement," said Patricia Borowski, a senior vice president with the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents, which represents 15,000 agencies across the country. Tracking programs Ms. Borowski said that a handful of insurance carriers have begun offering customers the option of receiving a discount for volunteering the information in their recorders. But the program hasn't been very popular. "Most people think they are far better drivers than they are," Mr. Borowski said. "Just because I don't get a ticket or get in an accident does not mean that 24/7 I am alert and don't make a mistake. I know that I am not perfect." There should at least be notification to car buyers that their cars have event data recorders, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public interest research center based in Washington. Mr. Rotenberg asks why there are no safeguards to ensure that the information captured is accurate. "The bottom line is, I don't think people want their cars spying on them," Mr. Rotenberg said. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is balancing those concerns with the agency's desire to improve highway safety. The agency is expected to issue new rules this summer on the use of event data recorders in an effort to standardize the information that is stored by the devices. "They can certainly provide us with significant data about crashes," said Eric Bolton, a NHTSA spokesman. The agency would be very interested in obtaining information from the devices to better understand the reasons for car accidents, he said. Automakers' position Automakers believe that the information recorded on the devices is useful and belongs to the customer – and should be used only with the car owner's permission. "The data obtained through the use of EDRs helps manufacturers enhance safety of automobiles," said Charles Territo, director of communications for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a Washington-based trade group. "It gives a better understanding of crash events and how to avoid injuries." Privacy concerns prompted California to pass legislation in 2004 that requires car manufacturers to disclose whether the devices have been installed. The law also prohibits disclosure of the data without the car owner's permission or a court order. In addition, California and New York passed laws that prohibit rental car companies from using electronic surveillance to impose penalties if, for instance, a renter is driving erratically. Maine, New Hampshire and Virginia have enacted similar measures. At least 20 other states are considering legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, based in Denver. Automakers hope to avoid a patchwork of state laws. That is one reason Mr. Capuano and Ms. Bono expect to see their bill gain traction. Two years ago, a similar measure sponsored by the pair failed to make it out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "Many motorists are unaware that their driving habits are being monitored and recorded by black boxes in their cars," Ms. Bono said. The devices are designed to fine-tune safety systems, not reconstruct accidents, said Daniel Jarvis of Ford Motor Co. Online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/nation/stories/DN-blackboxdog_02nat.ART.State.Bulldog.240a842.html
 
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I actually want the accident investigators to have every piece of information possible available to them when someone runs into me. It's one of the reasons I try to stick to the speed limit. I wouldn't want to be tracked or monitored though.
 
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Yeah, if your car was made in the last half-dozen or so years, you do have it. On one hand, you will frequently hear the "if you're not doing anything wrong, what do you have to fear..." argument. On the other, well, there are many. For example, I use a hand-held GPS unit (comes in handy for other USMC things) that clips to a bracket on the dash. It's very accurate overall, usually maintaining 15 foot 3D accuracy. But changes from one group of satellites to another cause disturbing distortions, such as recording my maximum speed as 187 mph! Now everyone knows that the Camry I was driving at the time isn't capable of such speed, but how'd you like to be under investigation, and have a more believable error appear? To me, a chilling prospect.
 
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Old news I thought everyone knew this about OBII systems. They have used data from OBII systems already in the court system. This is what stated the fight on who owns the data.
 
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OBDII maybe? I'm not aware of OBDII recording driving or crash data, at least on my car. http://www.harristechnical.com/downloads/cdrlist.pdf EDR may record data like: - Vehicle speed for the 5 seconds prior to the collision. - Engine RPM for the 5 seconds prior to the collision - Throttle position for the 5 seconds prior to the collision - Service brake (on/off) for the 5 seconds prior to the collision - Crash severity data - Seat belt status - Other restraint information such as air bag deployment.
 
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By the way, I'm waiting for the next generation of refridgerators to snitch on me when I have too much ice-cream in my freezer (health insurance will immediatly go up). What am I? A walking wallet? Brave new world my arse. [Razz]
 
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Um, I may be wrong but I believe all of that data is used for things like ABS, traction control, stability control, air bag activation, seatbelt pretensioners, roll control, etc. You have to monitor speeds, rates, steering, throttle, and brake inputs to implement all of those safety features. jeff
 
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I doubt that OBDII by itself is of a concern, unless EDR rides piggyback. The question is, what data can be used and abused, and how is the existence of data collection disclosed to the owner of the vehicle? I don't even use Fast Pass (CA automated RF toll system) because I don't like the idea that my vehicle can be tracked and time-stamped. It's also nobody's business how long it takes me to get from one Fast Track station to the next. Not to mention that nobody can know for sure if Fast Track "tracking" goes way beyond what we are told.
 

ALS

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quote:
Originally posted by moribundman: OBDII maybe? I'm not aware of OBDII recording driving or crash data, at least on my car. http://www.harristechnical.com/downloads/cdrlist.pdf
Anyone notice that it was only GM and Ford built vehicles on that list. I wonder what would happen if the general public knew this. I wonder if GM and Fords auto sales would tank even more? Didn't Chrysler show a gain in sales over the last few months? It's interesting that they're not on the list.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by moribundman: I don't even use Fast Pass (CA automated RF toll system) because I don't like the idea that my vehicle can be tracked and time-stamped. It's also nobody's business how long it takes me to get from one Fast Track station to the next. Not to mention that nobody can know for sure if Fast Track "tracking" goes way beyond what we are told.
No worries, they still take a picture of your car at each booth, and your paper tickets are time stamped too. So "they" can still track you, with a little extra effort [Wink] jeff
 
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quote:
Originally posted by ALS:
quote:
Originally posted by moribundman: OBDII maybe? I'm not aware of OBDII recording driving or crash data, at least on my car. http://www.harristechnical.com/downloads/cdrlist.pdf
Anyone notice that it was only GM and Ford built vehicles on that list. I wonder what would happen if the general public knew this. I wonder if GM and Fords auto sales would tank even more? Didn't Chrysler show a gain in sales over the last few months? It's interesting that they're not on the list.

You know why Ford might want to do this. They lost millions being sued by people who bought trucks, then crashed because the vehicles handled like trucks. It's not right though IMO. The question right now is who owns the data. I don't see any kind of legal contortionism that can say that the data isn't private and owned buy the person who owns the vehicle. I don't recall any EULA provided when I buy a car that gives anyone else the right to snoop into the internals of that car. But, I'm not a legislator or attorney either... [Wink]
 

Win

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quote:
Originally posted by moribundman: Well, how do we find out if our cars have one of those "event recorders" installed?
It's detailed in the owner's manual of my 2004 Pontiac GTO. The 2004 Jaguar Xj8 owner manual is silent on the issue, but I would expect that the car has an event data recorder, for diagnostic purposes, if nothing else.
 
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I bet if you disconnect it, YOU will be blamed for the accident because big brother doesn't have YOUR data. so are these cars free? oh wait, don't tell me you have to PAY to have your movements tracked and privacy invaded, not here in America?
 

JHZR2

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what movements are tracked? I didnt see anything that said it was attached to a GPS or similar, at leastnot now. If you disconnect it, you musthave something to hide about your driving style... Likely if you dont have it connected... the lawyers will find some way to claim that youre 50% at fault, even if you were sitting stilland someone crashed into you! Oh wait, they do that now anyway! JMH
 

ALS

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quote:
Originally posted by Scott P: Wow...a lot of tinfoil hats around
Paranoia is just a heightened sense of awareness. Massad Ayoob
 
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