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Toyota Black Box Data Is More Closed Than Others'

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the in-the-dark dept.

Bug 276

wjr writes "Many cars these days contain black boxes that record information (speed, accelerator position, etc) and can preserve information in the case of an accident. Ford and Chrysler say that they use 'open systems' so anyone can read out the data; General Motors has licensed Bosch to produce a device capable of reading its cars' black boxes. On the other hand, Toyota has only a single laptop in the US capable of reading its cars' black boxes, and generally won't allow the data to be read without a court order. Honda seems to have a similar policy. This is emerging as an issue in the investigation into unintended acceleration."

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A challenge... (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31367888)

Wouldn't it be grand if the guys who hacked Ubisoft's latest game [slashdot.org] took on this challenge instead?

And it would be covered in extra-special awesomesauce to see the code posted to SourceForge.

Re:A challenge... (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31367914)

Unless the data is encrypted (and it appears that their first line of defense is security by obscurity) it would seem to be a doable thing. Grab a used Toyota (good prices these days), track the various potential variables and look at the data. Maybe delve into how the other recorders do things - it's unlikely that Toyota would completely re invent the thing.

Sell it to a couple of attorneys.

Profit...

Re:A challenge... (3, Interesting)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31367948)

Toyota's systems have over a 100 million lines of code: http://news.discovery.com/tech/toyota-recall-software-code.html [discovery.com]

Not exactly a trivial app to just run strings on.

Re:A challenge... (2, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368048)

"100 million lines of code" doesn't say anything. I can write "hello world" in 2 lines of code, or 200 lines of code.

And the other challenge... (4, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368702)

...namely that million-dollar reward for finding the cause of unwanted acceleration is probably fairly safe if nobody will reveal their source code.

It would be interesting if this flushed a few Real Programmers [pbm.com] out of the woodwork, but most of them are in retirement, fly-fishing for salmon by now.

Re:A challenge... (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368118)

Thats stupid, they would just be hacking a few outputs. Simply the interface. If they can do it for WoW they can do it for a car. Way WAY simpler.

Re:A challenge... (4, Informative)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368444)

what makes you think it's simple? there would be literally 100's of sensors connected to inputs/outputs on multiple logic boards throughout the car, all these sending encrypted/obfuscated data to the blackbox. the data itself could well be so complex you wouldn't know real data from the obfuscated data.

i've done software that reads outputs from lab insturments and from onboard computers on haul trucks before, and it can be very very hard even with the manual to the instrument, let alone someone actively trying to prevent anyone decoding the data.

Re:A challenge... (3, Insightful)

profplump (309017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368656)

A) There's not reason to believe the data is any more obfuscated than simply "undocumented". It would be extra work to intentionally hide the data, and it's not clear that Toyota is doing that, or what they would gain from it if they did. All we know is they aren't going to any extra effort to allow other people to read it, and speculation into possible obfuscation is poorly founded.

And I'm just going to pretend that you didn't say encrypted, because even people who well motivated often screw up encryption, so it's incredibly unlikely that Toyota has a correctly-implemented encryption system (which includes things like making sure not all cars have the same key, which would be exceedingly difficult to do correctly).

B) Reverse engineering isn't trivial, but it's not incredible difficult either. "100s of sensors" is not a huge amount, particularly when you can tell what most if not all of those sensors or measuring, and get the analog/digital readings directly from the sensor package to correlate with the output even. You could even take the sensor network and computer out of the car, rig it up to allow a computer to generate billions of different input combinations, and then use automated statistical analysis to find correlated input and output parameters.

Re:A challenge... (4, Insightful)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368372)

Toyota's systems have over a 100 million lines of code:

Frankly, that statistic doesn't make much sense. In the article it's just a BS number that shouldn't have been quoted by the hack writer and it isn't even referring to Toyota. The rank and file microcontrollers that do most of the work in a modern car can't possibly have that much source code in them. The only place where a large amount of source code could be involved is for advanced accessory functions like entertainment, communication, and navigation systems. Those should all be properly isolated from the critical systems needed to operate the car safely. The Mercedes is stated to have 20M LOC and I'd bet the farm that 90% of that is in non-critical components. It's even less likely that a generic Toyota like the Camry has anywhere near that much code in its computers. Come on mods. If you can't even follow the links at least use your brains.

Re:A challenge... (-1, Flamebait)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368398)

Wow, that's amazing.

In a span of mere hours, "some guy" on slashdot successfully deduced the number of lines of code in a Mercedes Benz's computer system network and is already making short work of Toyota!

Come now, do you work for the pentagon or the NSA or some other place that employs mentats such as yourself?

Re:A challenge... (3, Informative)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368534)

Since you can't follow the link either:

Alfred Katzenbach, the director of information technology management at Daimler, has reportedly said that the radio and navigation system in the current S-class Mercedes-Benz requires over 20 million lines of code alone and that the car contains nearly as many ECUs as the new Airbus A380 (excluding the plane's in-flight entertainment system).

No deduction necessary. I would tend to give some credence to Mr. Katzenbach's statements about the makeup of Daimler's products.

Exactly correct. (2, Informative)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368492)

MOD PARENT UP. Thanks for saying that.

I was talking to an acquaintance at Daimler who heads a programming project for Daimler trucks. The number of processors and lines of code in a Toyota is wildly exaggerated. The actual figure is somewhat the same as in Mercedes-Benz automobiles.

Sink-the-company advertising for Toyota (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368518)

Another thought: I'm guessing that this one Slashdot story will cost Toyota at least $10,000,000.

Multiply that by the hundreds of stories in other publications.

Re:A challenge... (4, Funny)

ipquickly (1562169) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368094)

their first line of defense is security by obscurity

I think their first line of defense is knaji, hiragana, and katakana.
That leaves over 97% of the world out of the loop.

Re:A challenge... (4, Funny)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368140)

I don't think a hacker really gives a shit if a variable is named "carSpeed" or named " " ... well, unless the hackers are the same people that made /.

Re:A challenge... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368762)

4) Debtors prison?

Re:A challenge... (5, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 4 years ago | (#31367990)

Wouldn't it be grand if the guys who hacked Ubisoft's latest game [slashdot.org] took on this challenge instead?

It would be nice, but it's impossible. They'd have to be some sort of elite uber-hacker to even attempt such a challenge.

Absolutely impossible.

Not a hope in hell.

Can't be done.

Re:A challenge... (5, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368216)

Just wait - soon it will be a legal requirement to log a lot of parameters in a format that can be read.

Are Flight Data Recorders mandatory? (4, Insightful)

jayveekay (735967) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368630)

I'm guessing that Flight Data Recorders are mandated by law for commercial aircraft. I would say that the information that they have provided over the years has been very helpful in improving the safety of air travel.

How many people were killed last year in aircraft accidents? Hundreds would be my guesstimate. How many in car accidents? Tens of thousands would be my guess. If there are a lot of people being injured in car accidents then it would seem very useful (from an economic retrun on investment perspective) to start making data recorders both mandatory and have them record specific information in a published standard format, with the goal being to better understand accident causes and improve auto safety.

Re:A challenge... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31368132)

The only hack I'm interested in is one that disables the system. I consider these "black boxes" a massive invasion of privacy and in no way benefit me personally. Yes I know the argument would be what if I'm the victim in an accident wouldn't I want the courts to access the other guy's black box? The same argument can be made for recording phone calls and other invasions of privacy. You'd have to accept all privacy is bad. I don't wish to live under a microscope. I'm tired of people giving away my freedom because they think it makes them safer. all it does is make you less free. I should be able to drive to the store without a record of it being kept in my car. Already most of my purchases are tracked so now my location is tracked as well? I know so far the information is hard to access but the government is pushing for more and more access to the information. Eventually the info will be provided for things like divorce court. Do I have something to hide? That isn't the point the point is do we all want to live where we have to second guess how our actions will be interpreted later?

Re:A challenge... (4, Informative)

fyrewulff (702920) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368260)

Car black boxes cannot be used to track where you've been. Not only do they not record positional data, they also only record a buffer of about 10-15 seconds. By the time you pull off the highway and get to your house, everything you've done prior in the day (or since you've gotten on the highway) has already been pushed off the stack.

Not only that, the actual scene data (skidmarks, etc) are much more valuable to accident reconstruction and investigation than the black box. It's only a small bit of data they can use, it can't be the sole one. Especially if for example, the car gets rolled over - even if it happened at 40mph, the free spinning wheels would show that the car suddenly went from 40mph to 80mph..

Re:A challenge... (3, Insightful)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368426)

That's put my mind at rest. Good job computer memory only gets more expensive and reduces in capacity over time or else it would be possible to use the acceleration forces to make a map of your route and overlay this on a real map to find out where and when. And god forbid global positioning hardware or mobile phone technology gets built into cars.

Re:A challenge... (2, Interesting)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368676)

There is some legal impetus to do this. In the states, they are following the commercial route by having insurers offer premium reductions in exchange for fitting these systems.

In the EU and the UK, they are pretending that these systems would be used to implement "road pricing" ; a sort of variable road tax which charges more for driving on roads that are heavily congested (as if that wasn't it's own penalty in the first place). If that was the real aim, you could produce a system with the same functional equivalence with mandatory RFID number plates and pickup loops on these "congested" roads... instead they want a system that can track your whereabouts everywhere, logs it to a black box, and uploads it periodically via a cellular modem, which would be at least an order of magnitude or 2 more expensive to implement and maintain. Applying the razor of Dr Occam.. road pricing is not what they really want it for.

Re:A challenge... (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368842)

I wrote such a system many years ago. You can see it here [calum.org] .

I'll be driving at 12:30 UK time ( 3 hours), so you can watch me move.

Re:A challenge... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368784)

That's put my mind at rest. Good job computer memory only gets more expensive and reduces in capacity over time or else it would be possible to use the acceleration forces to make a map of your route and overlay this on a real map to find out where and when. And god forbid global positioning hardware or mobile phone technology gets built into cars.

Simple solution, buy a bike.

Re:A challenge... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31368434)

2 to 5 seconds, shifter position, speed, brake position, anti-lock activation, gas pedal position, engine rpm, a few others.

Toyota is almost blatant if you look at it from the perspective of a complete coverup. They turn off the recording functions.

Why, oh why, would they do that? Lia + bility.

we need a law to encourage an arms race (-1)

r00t (33219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368530)

Simplifying the problem to 2-car crashes, how about this:

In court, the defense may use all data from all black boxes in the vicinity of the crash as long as their own car provides it. The prosecution or plaintif only gets to use data which can be supplied by all vehicles.

Suppose one car stores GPS data with 100-meter resolution and the other car stores GPS data with 1-meter resolution. The high-resolution data only gets used if found in the defendant's car and he chooses to allow it. If that isn't the case, then the court orders the high-resolution data rounded off to the nearest 100 meters.

The same goes for anything else: tire inflation sensors, video of the driver's footwell, video of the driver's head, magnetic compass, exterior microphone, accelerometers, gyroscopes...

End result: everyone wants as many sensors as possible, with the best quality they can get.

Re:A challenge... (5, Insightful)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368848)

Not only that, the actual scene data (skidmarks, etc) are much more valuable to accident reconstruction and investigation than the black box. It's only a small bit of data they can use, it can't be the sole one. Especially if for example, the car gets rolled over - even if it happened at 40mph, the free spinning wheels would show that the car suddenly went from 40mph to 80mph..

I don't disagree actual scene data isn't essential, but the example you picked is a highly useful supplement to that data. If the speed suddenly increases from 40 to 80, obviously that happened at the instant the tire lifted off the road, since it is physically impossible for the car to accelerate from 40 to 80 suddenly.

So, from the black box data we now have a record of exactly when the tire left the road, plus we have the speed of the car just before the accident happened (which would be more accurate than a skid mark estimate, esp. if the road was icy or slippery), and we have the fact that the driver's foot (or in Toyota's case possibly the computer) was pressing the accelerator since otherwise it wouldn't have sped up to 80. So what was the driver trying to do at the instant of the accident, and why were both the brake (skid mark) and accelerator (sudden tire speed up) being pressed simultaneously, etc.?

Combining black box data with the scene data could provide a far more accurate reconstruction of the accident than scene data alone. Of course it doesn't replace the accident scene data - no one is saying that the scene data should be ignored, as your straw man argument seems to imply. .

Re:A challenge... (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368176)

In all honesty it is significantly more difficult. Hacking the game was probably as simple as changing some line to always return 'true.'

Whereas a complicated protocol or file format can be nearly impossible to decipher. Live data systems can send out megabytes of data at a time, so it is a lot to figure out. Each part of the datastream represents something different, and sometimes the only way to figure out what it represents is by isolating the system (in this case the car), and changing one piece at a time to see how the recorded data changes. In something that is used to record the evidence of car crashes, this can get expensive quickly.

It can be further complicated by weirdness like fields that are 21 or 22 bits long. You can't even reliably know where one datum starts and another ends unless you know the protocol. The worst thing I've seen like that was a 5 bit signed integer stored in an 8 bit field. Messy. If you don't have the documentation, it can take a long time to figure stuff out.

Even something as relatively ubiquitous as NTFS took years to figure out reliably.

Re:A challenge... (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368356)

I was impressed that Andrew Tridgell was able to reverse engineer the bitkeeper line protocol to develop sourcepuller [sourceforge.net] . Especially since he claims to have done it without access to a client. The story is he polled the server to get samples of the protocol.

I have seen many binary line protocols reverse engineered over the years. If you have enough data quite a bit is possible.

Re:A challenge... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368418)

In all honesty, while I have the utmost respect for Andrew Tridgell, bitkeeper was not the most difficult reverse engineering he's ever done. The protocol was basically in English [lwn.net] , and had a help menu. Quite friendly of it.

I'm going to once again say that the difficulty here, with Toyota, is going to be collecting the data and correlating it with real events. Figuring out the basic packet structure, and maybe the timestamps, will be easy, but beyond that, even if you manage to figure out that a certain data field is X bytes long, you still have to figure out the human meaning of that field. And that is essentially impossible unless you can correlate it with real events that happened in the real world. Some events will be easy to figure out, like 'pressing the break,' but other events will be significantly harder to figure out, like 'airbag expands.'

It's not impossible, but it is significantly harder than cracking the Ubisoft DRM.

East versus West (0, Troll)

reporter (666905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368188)

plover (150551) wrote, "Wouldn't it be grand if the guys who hacked Ubisoft's latest game took on this challenge instead?"

You would not need to hack the black box if Toyota -- and, for that matter, Japanese society -- put more value on openness and humanity. Though Japan is mostly a Western nation, the Japanese still retain some distinctly Asian features. They include secrecy, devaluing human life, etc.

So, the Japanese engineers at both Toyota and Honda naturally created a closed black box that only their engineers can read and decode. So, naturally, given the same kinds of defects, the Japanese government is less likely to demand a recall than the American government. So, naturally, Toyota works their engineers to death: "death by overwork" killed numerous engineers and salesmen during the 1980s and 1990s.

Yet, unlike other Asians, the Japanese do try to be Western. So, Tokyo -- following the lead of Washington -- has now toughened its language against Toyota. Tokyo, like Washington, is investigating the problems in both the braking system and the throttle system.

Closer to home for most of the techies on Slashdot is the initiative for the Restriction of Hazardous Substances [rohs.gov.uk] (RoHS). RoHS is an idea that was first promoted and enforced by the European Union. RoHS is a requirement that electronics manufacturers must minimize or eliminate use of some dangerous substances like lead.

The EU did the courageous step of enhancing the value of human life. Japan followed the lead of the Europeans and now also abides by RoHS rules.

Japan is Western but still must learn from the rest of the West.

Re:A challenge... (1, Troll)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368220)

Wouldn't it be grand if the guys who hacked Ubisoft's latest game took on this challenge instead?

If Alberto Gonzales' Justice Dept were trying to prosecute accused terrorists, most of /. (and, for that matter, the EFF and Huffington Post) would be applauding Toyota for respecting people's privacy.

Hypocritical bastards.

Re:A challenge... (0)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368652)

Don't you mean "If Eric Holder's Justice Dept"?

I mean Gonzales has been gone for a while now.

Re:A challenge... (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368700)

Only if this were www.glennbeck.com.

Re:A challenge... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31368246)

Probably it takes a large block of data from a buffer, encrypts it with a public key, and saves it to nonvolatile storage. Toyota holds the private key. If implemented correctly, the best you could do would be to know what sort of information is recorded, and to intercept that data to record it yourself with some hardware hack.

Re:A challenge... (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368412)

Would that result in free games for the hackers? No. Well too bad. They'd rather spend their time playing pirated games then actually contributing to society.

Dude! (2, Interesting)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31367922)

The Japanese are protecting our privacy!!! What are you, thick?!

Hehehe.

Re:Dude! (-1, Offtopic)

aurb (674003) | more than 4 years ago | (#31367932)

Indeed they are. Mod parent up!

I knew that and is MAIN reason I bought Toyota (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31367958)

I knew that and is MAIN reason I bought Toyota.

Toyota still has to comply with inserting RFID radio emitting 128 bit GUIDs from devices hidden in passenger and truck tires sold on cars in USA though, and these are used forensically when recorded on major interstates using wires grooved into the pavement by the FBI. The T.R.E.A.D. act.

The usa does enforce police , insurance company and EMS (any authority really) blackboxes on trucks, even toyota trucks, so this article is misleading. Passenger fleet is immune from big brother chips that record and only stop recording if airbag deployed.

Corvettes have 4 backup snitch chips, with 2 embedded DEEP in foam of dashboard, impossible to cut out with a knife and if wires snipped nothing runs.

We can all blame Audi cars in the 1980s. They lurched into intersections from females who drive with TWO feet, one on brake, one on accelerator. This female habit reuslted in many intersection lurch accidents. Drivers blames the car engines. Ironically no audis lurched forward into traffic when at rest when driven by males. Nevertheless, that is motivation when spy blackbox chips started getting inserted.

My last car was SPECIFICALLY selected as toyota because of their privacy rules on recording recent top speed, and max speed to chip for accident investigation or criminal charges.

Re:I knew that and is MAIN reason I bought Toyota (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368020)

I'd love to see some conclusive evidence on these rumors (the black box stuff, not the bullshit "women can't drive" part). Do you have any links handy? Would be greatly appreciated, kthx.

Re:I knew that and is MAIN reason I bought Toyota (1)

LBt1st (709520) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368028)

Interesting stuff. Is there a website that details what cars have what in terms of chips and such?

Re:I knew that and is MAIN reason I bought Toyota (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368088)

Yes its at www.holyshitthegovernmentsistryingtostealmybrainkeys.com

Re:I knew that and is MAIN reason I bought Toyota (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31368624)

I used to run this website until two weeks ago, when I was visi* kjvdssssssnaasd OH god the'yer her and ar eusing tear gas... plaease help me,.>!.

Re:I knew that and is MAIN reason I bought Toyota (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368282)

Is there a website that details what cars have what in terms of chips and such?

The answer is none. None more black.

Re:I knew that and is MAIN reason I bought Toyota (2, Funny)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368592)

By now you should know how this routine usually goes.

No, there aren't any websites like this. All Sites that had lists and pictures of disected dashboards that showed those chips have been pulled off the net. That alone should be proof that those rumours are true, for what other reasons would someone be intrested in covering it.

Re:I knew that and is MAIN reason I bought Toyota (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368782)

I congratulate Toyota on insisting on a court order.

Hopefully some enlightened (EU?) legislator will outlaw the use of such data unless it has been obtained through a court order.

Mr Toyota-san, Tear down this Interface! (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31367972)

This is proving to be an ongoing public relations disaster for Toyota. If they don't take meaningful action, vastly exceeding the expectations of the public, a well-respected brand name's reputation for safety/reliability is going to end up in the trash. Releasing the interface to read the black boxes contents (in read only mode) would be a good start. I don't say this as a geek who has a fetish for tabulating acceleration data, but as a nervous driver.

Yes, Toyota could be sued, but it's going to be sued anyway. Evasion won't change the outcome of the law suits, but it will go a long way to restoring their brand's reputation.

Re:Mr Toyota-san, Tear down this Interface! (4, Insightful)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31367998)

Why would it be a good idea? I thought slashdot was all gung-ho about protecting people's privacy?

If there really was a case of an accident caused by unintended acceleration then a court order would be piece of cake to get.

Re:Mr Toyota-san, Tear down this Interface! (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368076)

I'm not entirely clear on how not having access to one of the computers in a piece of my property, or even knowing exactly what it does, protects my privacy...

Some sort of scheme for compulsory(or even many flavors of "optional") collection of black box data would, indeed, be a huge privacy violation; but that isn't the proposal.

This is a system embedded in the car, to which you need physical access to connect. Anybody who could get to that box could plant a GPS+accelerometer bug on your car considerably more easily. Documentation for reading the black box would give the owner of the system more control and information(and, who knows, maybe even let third party mechanics break the dealer grip on certain services) without notable privacy implications.

Re:Mr Toyota-san, Tear down this Interface! (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368402)

I'm not entirely clear on how not having access to one of the computers in a piece of my property, or even knowing exactly what it does, protects my privacy...

You ninny. If it's easy for anyone to get at the black box info, it's easy for the government to track your movements.

The privacy concept is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31368460)

Your car is in a fender bender, or maybe you just bring it in for an oil change. Unless the police and courts are involved, you don't want the repair shop or garage downloading the data and notifying the DMV/insurance companies/performance-parts vendors if they detect that you've been driving over the speed limit. It's just like you want all the data on your hard drive encrypted, in case you have to ever get your computer repaired, since the repair shops always scan the hard drives for pr0n and anything else interesting they can find.

Re:Mr Toyota-san, Tear down this Interface! (1)

dcollins (135727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368096)

"Why would it be a good idea? I thought slashdot was all gung-ho about protecting people's privacy?"

Arguing that corporations are not people since 1886.

Re:Mr Toyota-san, Tear down this Interface! (2, Insightful)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368158)

Arguing that corporations are not people since 1886.

You think that is Toyota being protected when a cop tries to 'prove' you were a reckless driver with blackbox data for hitting that drunk guy walking out on the road? Especially when the data is from 5 minutes earlier when you were going slightly above speed limits on a clear road but has no connection to how you were driving at that moment?

A court might not let the prosecution retrieve that information, but won't help you much if they already got it through an usb interface in the dashboard of your car.

Re:Mr Toyota-san, Tear down this Interface! (1)

berzerke (319205) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368474)

...A court might not let the prosecution retrieve that information, but won't help you much if they already got it through an usb interface in the dashboard of your car.

Courts can and have dis-allowed information to be used. Just because they have it doesn't guarantee it can be used. It has to be obtained legally...in theory at least - there are judges that shouldn't be judges.

Re:Mr Toyota-san, Tear down this Interface! (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368184)

I'm still not convinced that this latest scare of unintended acceleration is not due to operator error.

The increased complaints may simply be due to hysteria.

Apparently some people are not aware of brakes and when confronted with odd car behaviour, panic.

Re:Mr Toyota-san, Tear down this Interface! (1)

theycallmeB (606963) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368194)

Well according to AP version of this story (from the NYTimes here [nytimes.com] ), getting a court order is a piece of cake, getting Toyota to cooperate is another matter entirely.

Complaints against Toyota include "Has frequently refused to provide key information sought by crash victims and survivors." and "In some lawsuits, when pressed to provide recorder information Toyota either settled or provided printouts with the key columns blank."

So it would seem that something is going on here, possibly as simple as cost cutting, but it has nothing to do with protecting drivers' privacy.

Re:Mr Toyota-san, Tear down this Interface! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31368162)

Mr Toyota-san

Seriously? People using Japanese honorifics in English is bad enough, but doubling up on that with English ones too?

Japanese Grammer Nazi (1)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368178)

kyuteSetebbeJiobs-san, Ohayoo Gozaimasu.

It's just "toyota-san," not "Mr. Toyota-san." Saying "Mr. Toyota-san" is like saying "Mr. Mr. Toyota." Of course, we might have a lot to learn from Toyota-san, so we might want to call him/her/it Toyota-sensee.

Arigato,
Nihongo no grammer nazi

P.S. this is intended as a joke and not designed to offend.

Re:Japanese Grammer Nazi (3, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368316)

Not meaning to pick on the Japanese Grammar Nazi in particular, but - I can't believe we've gotten this far into the story without anyone picking up on the fact that the company president's name is TOYODA not TOYOTA (yeah I realize it's not really spelled using our alphabet). For the car company name they intentionally changed the name slightly because the T-ish symbol was considered luckier than the D-ish one.

So frankly, calling him "Toyota-san" or -dono or whatever would probably be considered a bit rude.

Re:Japanese Grammer Nazi (1)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368494)

Arigato. I did not know that (I'm an American student learning japanese).

Heh (4, Insightful)

Airdorn (1094879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31367974)

Lol @ the recent mysterious deluge against Toyota.

Re:Heh (3, Insightful)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368026)

Yes, it is suspicious and makes one wonder about the extent of the "pro-America" propaganda machine.

Re:Heh (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368102)

Yes, because no one shops at Walmart, even though 50% of Americans think that WalMart is a very American store (well, this was said on the news once and although I hope USA citizens are smart, this is possible)

Re:Heh (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368504)

Wal*mart is a very American store. America thrives on a vigorous and unresolved conflict between popular socialist movements and rather-popular big business movements. Wal*mart's affiliation is obvious.

As for the rest of your reply, I find it incomprehensible.

Re:Heh (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368120)

Uh, there's been quite a bit of coverage of the issue in Japan and europe as well, to the point where Toyota Japan in a fairly unprecedented move for a Japanese consumer complaint response agreed to an open investigation by the governments consumer protection arm. The norm is to offer a deep apology and for the followup to be completed behind closed doors.

Re:Heh (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368490)

I was not aware of this, thank you for the information. There is some concern in certain circles, that the US government response is influenced by the domestic auto bailout. I will recalibrate my opinion based on the baseline response outside the US.

Re:Heh (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368856)

Even if they aren't at fault (not saying they aren't) they have to do that apology thing etc.

It's a lose-lose.

If they deny it, they get in trouble - which driver is going to say he/she screwed up? If they say it's their fault, they get in trouble.

Good Technology I suppose... (2, Funny)

louiech21 (1472757) | more than 4 years ago | (#31367976)

I prefer having breaks, steering, and not having an accelerator stick to the floor.

Re:Good Technology I suppose... (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368054)

That's ridiculous. Breaks, steering, and non-sticky accelerators are so last decade. Now days it's all about DRM.

Re:Good Technology I suppose... (1, Insightful)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368086)

"Breaks" is the problem. I prefer brakes.

Re:Good Technology I suppose... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31368862)

Them's the breaks - in mine, I prefer brakes.

Time must have changed. (4, Insightful)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#31367980)

It seems like it was only yesterday when people were complaining that the black box data was there in the first place. Then came along the complaints on how it was being used against people in courts and in accident investigations. Then the complaint was that only certain people could get the information and you couldn't get it to clear your name or anything- even in one case where I believe the prosecutor got the information and decided it was worthless and tossed it (may be wrong on that).

Now, it seems that everything happening that would have caused a complaint is good and those not allowing it to happen is bad. Go figure.

Re:Time must have changed. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368098)

The status quo is a powerful thing. Once something Just Is people start treating it as a baseline.

More specifically, though, is complaining about information asymmetry at all unreasonable? If the black box is present, why shouldn't I object to the fact that I, the owner of the vehicle, have no access to its contents; but those who have more power than I do do? There are substantial virtues to privacy and substantial virtues to transparency(in certain contexts); but asymmetric transparency is basically the worst of both worlds.

Re:Time must have changed. (2, Insightful)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368180)

Well, if they have to get a court order to retrieve the data then Toyota will have a copy of it (prosecution can't 'lose' it) and it will have been retrieved under a court order (so the prosecution can't throw it away since it was 'useless').

Seems most people are reacting to FUD and not realizing Toyota are the _GOOD_ guys here.

I guess we could keep that property, but get more (1, Insightful)

r00t (33219) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368606)

Here's how it could work:

1. Using an Ethernet jack provided by the car, you use HTTP to grab an encrypted blob. This contains the data, including a timestamp and the VIN.

2. Upload the blob to Toyota's web site. They decrypt it and store it forever.

3. Download the decrypted blob.

Download can be limited to the uploader by default, with other people only able to see that it exists. If you want a copy and you didn't perform the upload, simply get a court order.

Re:Time must have changed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31368602)

Are you upset that you don't have access to the code for the ECU? Do you think they should pop it on a disk when you buy the car. From what I can tell this "black box" stuff is most probably just some of the ECU state monitoring which has been around for years. It's hardly an invasion of my privacy if the ECU records that the O2 sensor has gone belly up and turns on the engine check light to let me know. In order to make these systems work they have to have some way of determining what the result of a certain set up inputs was. In the case of the accelerator issue there may be nothing recorded or maybe a couple of minutes worth of data. Nothing to get excited about.

Re:Time must have changed. (5, Insightful)

Weirsbaski (585954) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368128)

It's not as inconsistent as you'd think- if the owner of car wants the blackbox data, she should get it, no problem. If anybody else wants the data, let 'em either ask the owner to voluntarily go along with it, or ask a judge for a court order (with appropriate legal conditionals so the judge can't just rubberstamp it).

"voluntary" == gun to head (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31368328)

Hah. In most cases "voluntary" means doing something with a gun to your head.
Want insurance (which you're required to have)? Better "voluntarily" open up that black box data.
Want to not be arrested? Better "voluntarily" open up that black box data.
Want to get your emissions checked? Better "voluntarily" open up that black box data.
Want to get a license for that car? Better "voluntarily" open up that black box data and let us connect it to an auto-ticketing device.

And so on....

The problem is a lot of "voluntary" things quickly become non-voluntary (i.e. forcibly waived) if you are to get standard services.

Uh huh (2, Interesting)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31367988)

Toyota sees only loss potentials in making an open access EDR, since more data provided in crashes means more potential liability. Therefore, they encrypt it and make it only available by court order.

Pure business (you know, excluding the human factor as usual).

Re:Uh huh (2, Informative)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368100)

Yup. Same goes with medical equipment and everything else: encrypt the firmware uploading apparatus so that the only people who see the firmware instructions are the engineers who create it. Technicians and the public remain ignorant, and fixes are released as "new features" before the public figures out that their gadget is a fire hazard.

But I doubt all that would stop a team of determined reverse-engineers familiar with the microcontrollers used. Enter the DMCA.

Re:Uh huh (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31368124)

You're right. And most of these accidents and screaming crisis victims are idiots who hit the wrong pedal. for the most part, attempts to show these cars are flying away out of control have failed. Yes, even with the pedal and mat recalls. Toyota screwed up in not using Japanese Denso pedals in all their cars. The US Pedal manufacturer was well outside spec. This shit happens when you make stuff in China or the USA.

And a cornered animal is a dangerous animal. Toyota is a worldwide automaker that is profitable most of the time. They can weather this, but know for long term benefit, they have to aggressively fight for US customers now. Zero % financing for 5 years takes away a ton of profit, and GM has been forced to match that offer. Unlike toyota, GM is unable to afford that kind of profit loss.

This single incident is going to add at least ten, probably far more, years to how long it will take GM to pay back her debts. Democrat regulators and congressmen who smirk as they grind Toyota for shit GM does day in day out (they had a huge recall in February too!) are being idiots. They have forced Toyota to make their cars much more affordable. Even at 9% lower sales volume last month, they will probably sell MORE cars this quarter, and GM fewer. And those cars GM sells will have far less profit.

GMAC was the primary moneymaker for GM. Toyota just took that off the table. Chrysler will probably have to match that or suffer even worse sales. There are no good reactions, except for Toyota to take a big hit now in the USA that is easily absorbed by their growth in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Oh, and I am happy with a car that some plaintiff, cop, or government bureaucrat can't take my data from. I will probably never read my black box. I don't want anyone else too. I don't even have an ugly ass toyota, but I appreciate their self interest matching my own here. What's funny is that I think Chevies are the most stylish, but am so turned off by this crisis witchhunt that I'll probably buy a Honda.

Re:Uh huh (2, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368268)

Your analysis of the car industry might have been more convincing if it hadn't left out the biggest competitors to Toyota. Most of the lost sales from Toyota have gone to Honda or Hyundai, and Ford has beaten GM in sales recently. There is more to the auto world than just Toyota and GM.

Let's nip this Toyota bashing in the bud (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31368000)

Absolutely *no* car manufacturer has your best interest at heart. Not Toyota, not Ford, not GM, not a single one of them.

Who made the SUVs that literally jumped off their tires and turtled at so much as a harsh look? Who made trucks and thought it was a brilliant idea to mount the gas tanks *outside* of the frame? Who made cars that exploded when they were nudged at the backend? Which car manufacturer computes the costs of killing some of their customers vs. spending a bit more to make each vehicle safe?

It's not just Toyota. But, today, with the US government being the largest shareholder in GM, I would bet that life for Toyota is going to get really bad.

Re:Let's nip this Toyota bashing in the bud (1)

Airdorn (1094879) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368090)

Let's be more general here. No one at all has your best interest at heart. Except, err.. maybe your mother. Having said that, Toyota has been a pretty good, reliable car for millions for decades. I'm a little confused about the recent slam against Toyota in recent days, especially since GM became "Government Motors".. but that's neither here nor there. None of the car companies computed the cost of killing people vs. savings for safety features. That's alarmist propaganda. Rather, after accidents happen, they're like.. "WTF! Wow, guess we didn't think that one through." A bunch of that stuff is hind-sight cry-babying.

Re:Let's nip this Toyota bashing in the bud (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368126)

"WTF! Wow, guess we didn't think that one through." A bunch of that stuff is hind-sight cry-babying.

Crocodile tears.

Re:Let's nip this Toyota bashing in the bud (2, Informative)

serbanp (139486) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368298)

None of the car companies computed the cost of killing people vs. savings for safety features.

Except Ford, with their famous Pinto. Google for "Ford Pinto Memo" if you want to understand who invented the cost-benefits computation in the case of vehicular maiming/killing.

Re:Let's nip this Toyota bashing in the bud (4, Insightful)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368122)

You know what? When all these "sudden recalls" came out from Toyota once their acceleration issue came to light in the media, it indicates to me one thing.
Toyota has been holding back a lot of recalls at the expense of customer safety.
So champion Toyota all you want, and come up with a conspiracy theory that the USA gov is behind this whole thing.
It indicates to me Toyota was playing with fire and now they got burned. Nothing more, nothing less.

Re:Let's nip this Toyota bashing in the bud (5, Interesting)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368156)

those failing tires? were made by bridgestone/firestone, a japanese company.

and the pinto?

However, a 1991 law review paper by Gary Schwartz[17] claimed the case against the Pinto was less clear-cut than commonly supposed. The number who died in Pinto rear-impact fires, according to Schwartz, was well below the hundreds cited in contemporary news reports and closer to the twenty-seven recorded by a limited National Highway Traffic Safety Administration database. Given the Pinto's production figures (over 2 million built), this was not substantially worse than typical for the time. Schwartz argued that the car was no more fire-prone than other cars of the time, that its fatality rates were lower than comparably sized imported automobiles, and that the supposed "smoking gun" document that plaintiffs claimed showed Ford's callousness in designing the Pinto was actually a document based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulations about the value of a human life rather than a document containing an assessment of Ford's potential tort liability.

Re:Let's nip this Toyota bashing in the bud (2, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368182)

with the US government being the largest shareholder in GM, I would bet that life for Toyota is going to get really bad.

Toyota screwed up big time, for sure. But make no mistake about it. These hearings on Toyota were aimed at one thing and one thing only. To make them look bad so our Federal Gov can continue to capture the UAW votes by bolstering GM sales.

Now you tell me? How fucked up is that?!

It could be that Toyota is just being responsible (4, Interesting)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368008)

Toyota ... generally won't allow the data to be read without a court order.

All it takes is a court order. So essentially the only thing slowing the investigations would be an unwilling Federal government.

This.. (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368010)

is their new jingle [youtube.com] ..

Chill out (2, Insightful)

KamuZ (127113) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368112)

Chill out, they only need a court order and seems the USA Federal Government is always good at giving these ones away.

No need to "hack" the box or anything like it.

Re:Chill out (2, Informative)

fatalwall (873645) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368266)

unless you as an owner personally want to see the data.. then hacking is the only route... unless you think its not a giant pain in the butt for the owner to have to get a court order

YUO FAIL IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31368620)

very sick and its for it. I don't Baby take my Fear the reaper Distended. All I of the above channel, you might a relatively fun to be again. at least.' Nobody BSD culminated in as the premiere with any sort a child knows argued by Eric filed countersuit, opinion in other market. Therefore survival prospects same worth7ess had become like the system clean so that you don't so that you don't are allowed to play PROBLEM STEMS YOUR SPARE TIME very sick and its Could sink your fear the reaper already aware, *BSD Been the best, from one folder on balance is struck, BSD style.' In the with process and BEEN LOOKING FOR!

FUD (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31368688)

Can we stop with the boring Toyota FUD articles and get back to being Slashdot? This is getting annoying. Thanks!

Anyone (2, Insightful)

G4Cube (863788) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368744)

got a crashed Prius to hack? If we can break DRM in a day.....

Surprising (5, Funny)

theArtificial (613980) | more than 4 years ago | (#31368746)

Will Toyota stop at nothing?!

DMCA Irony (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31368808)

So now Toyoa is being "accused" for using propietary software. It wasn't a long time ago when I read about some US association to declare open software "communism" and "hazardous to capitalism".

I would love to see a court case where Toyota will sue National Highway Traffic Safety Administration due violating DMCA when trying to pry the data out from the Toyota black boxes.

That'd be irony.

BTW: My sympathies are on victims' and their families' side. I am sorry for their loss.

BTW2: And in my opinion there should be an international law for making black boxes both obligatory and open format (not even tied to single company solutions like Bosch).

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