Privacy complaints have gone unheeded so far. The traffic safety administration says it doesn’t have the authority to impose limits on how the information can be used and other privacy protections. About a dozen states have some law regarding data recorders, but the rest do not.
“Right now we’re in an environment where there are no rules, there are no limits, there are no consequences and there is no transparency,” said Lillie Coney, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy advocacy group.
“Most people who are operating a motor vehicle have no idea this technology is integrated into their vehicle.”
Part of the concern is that the increasing computerization of cars and the growing communications to and from vehicles like GPS navigation and General Motors’ OnStar system could lead to unintended uses of recorder data.
“Basically your car is a computer now, so it can record all kinds of information,” said Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers. “It’s a lot of the same issues you have about your computer or your smartphone and whether Google or someone else has access to the data.”
The alliance opposes the government requiring recorders in all vehicles.
Data recorders “help our engineers understand how cars perform in the real world, and we already have put them on over 90 percent of (new) vehicles without any mandate being necessary,” Bergquist said.
Safety advocates, however, say requiring data recorders in all cars is the best way to gather a large enough body of reliable information to enable vehicle designers to make safer automobiles.
“The barn door is already open. It’s a question of whether we use the information that’s already out there,” said Henry Jasny, vice president of Advocates for Highway and Automotive Safety.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that requiring recorders in all new cars “will give us the critical insight and information we need to save more lives.”
“By understanding how drivers respond in a crash and whether key safety systems operate properly, (government safety officials) and automakers can make our vehicles and our roadways even safer,” LaHood said.<< previous 1 2 3 next >>