You may not know it, but there’s a plan to get a black box in your car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is pushing for mandatory crash recorders for all cars. Some groups are bristling at this effort, namely the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They are worried that this will lead to tracking and recording of data that encroach on the privacy of drivers. For instance, what if you lend your car to a friend who proceeded to drive like a speed demon up and down the highway? If the data in the black box was accessed, then the information could make it back to your insurance company, resulting in a huge rate hike. And the black box would track more than just your speed, but if airbags are deployed, what seat belts are connected, the position of the brake and accelerator, and more.
With no regulations in place for how much information can be stored, critics of the plan are sincerely worried that these devices could be used for more harm than good. Supporters of the plan, however, point to the fact that most cars already have some form of a crash recorder, and that the amount of data gathered is routinely used to make cars safer for consumers. When it comes to the privacy issue, they indicate that the NHTSA doesn’t have the jurisdiction to access such information anyway.
Should cars have these black boxes in them? Will it really make driving any safer? Or could it be used against us? Are you even aware of whether or not there is one in your car?
Clarence M. Ditlow, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety
Nate Cardozo, Staff Attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation