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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