Drivers are one step safer to having improved privacy behind the wheel. The Senate Commerce Committee has granted bipartisan approval to legislation that aims to protect the information on automotive Event Data Recorders (EDR), also known as black boxes. The committee concluded that the vehicle owner is the one who owns the information stored on the device.
Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) first proposed the rules last year. The legislation stipulates that the owner or lessee of the vehicle is the only person entitled to the data in the black box, outside of a few specific conditions. The information can still be accessed if authorized by a court or if the owner consents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may collect data for recalls, but personal information must not be disclosed in the process. Finally, law enforcement may use the data if needed following a crash. According to the senators, 14 states already have data recorder privacy laws.

"EDRs can serve a useful function by helping to make cars and streets safer, but access to the data should be treated as personal except under very specific circumstances," said Senator Hoeven in a statement on his website.

Black boxes are already installed in over 90-percent of vehicles and track data like speed, braking, airbag deployment and some even know the vehicle's location. Previously, NHTSA proposed that all future vehicles must come with data recorders. According to The Detroit News, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota and Volkswagen, has given support to the committee's rules.


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  • 14 Comments
      RetrogradE
      • 8 Months Ago
      So glad our privacy is in the hands of our trustful government. I'm sure these selfless Senators have our best interest in mind. Rest easy, 'Merica.
      jebibudala
      • 8 Months Ago
      They STILL left the clause where they have full authorization to extract the data during any inspection (NOT to be confused with investigation). Inspection could mean anything from emissions, DUI checkpoint, TSA/DHS checkpoint, and so on.
      tbird57w
      • 8 Months Ago
      there will be fines for tampering with it, the information will always get leaked, and it will be used as a weapon but also as a possible way of clearing a driver. insurance companies will use it to try and void insurance payouts. if the president (and clapper)can go before the public and lie about the nsa not reading the e-mails of americans or recording every phone conversation and numbers called, no one should ever believe any of the stuff being put out about this. i'm surprised our televisions aren't secretly being programed to watch us or maybe they are and we just don't know it yet!
      jcwconsult
      • 8 Months Ago
      If governments can subpoena the data, then it still is not private. James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association
        jonwil2002
        • 8 Months Ago
        @jcwconsult
        I think the data should only be accessible under the following circumstances: 1.Law enforcement can only have access with a warrant (if there has been an accident serious enough for law enforcement to get involved, there would generally be visible damage to at least one car therefore getting a warrant shouldn't be a problem) 2.Insurance companies should be prohibited from having access to the black box data or using it in any way to determine the outcome of a claim. 3.The owner of the vehicle (or lessee in the case of a long term lease) should be allowed to access the black box data any time they want (and vehicle manufacturers should be required to provide a mechanism to allow this to be possible) 4.Safety agencies should be allowed access to black box data but only if any details linking it back to individuals is not involved. 5.Automakers would be prohibited from accessing black box data (e.g. during repairs) without the owners consent. and 6.Anything outside of this would require a court order.
          jonwil2002
          • 8 Months Ago
          @jonwil2002
          Oh and ALL government agencies (including but not limited to state motor vehicle registration authorities as well as entities like homeland security, FBI, DEA, TSA, ATF, Customs, state police, county police, local police etc) would require a warrant or court order to get at the information.
      normc32
      • 8 Months Ago
      Guess what is going to wipe GM's hands free? You guessed! The data that shows these girls driving too fast and off-road.
        KC
        • 8 Months Ago
        @normc32
        The GM issue has little to do with the cause of the accident, but more to do with the survivability of the accident. ie. If someone dies because of head trauma, then the undeployed airbag could definitely be a factor.
          normc32
          • 8 Months Ago
          @KC
          Not if the driver was negligent. Alcohol and/or unbelted seat belts would be considered a negligent driver.
          carguy1701
          • 8 Months Ago
          @KC
          ^
      Dana
      • 8 Months Ago
      I'm surprised Congress didn't make it a saleable commodity, only exempting THEIR information from their personal vehicles. Seems to be the way they roll.
      justgoawaymad
      • 8 Months Ago
      This isnt rocket science people.....just unplug it!
      Basil Exposition
      • 8 Months Ago
      This is wonderful news
      keycoins
      • 8 Months Ago
      Take the insides out of that box and then hook it back up. Blame it on poor quality control at the factory. These things happen all the time.
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