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California Protects Black-Box Data Privacy

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the lots-of-little-brothers dept.

Privacy 262

Snowgen writes "According to a story at SFGate.com, California has recently passed a law regulating the little black boxes found in many modern automobiles. The new law requires that manufacturers disclose the existence of such boxes in the vehicle's operators' manual. The law also prohibits the use of data from such boxes without a court order or the permission of the vehicle's owner, unless the data is used in such a way that it can not be traced back to the owner."

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Phew... (1)

Vixx (631775) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039472)

I can finally drive like a nut again!

Re:Phew... (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039896)

...or you could find an old 60's muscle car with no electronic ignition. As a bonus it's also immune to all EMP, in case you were worried about what to drive after a nuclear holocaust or needed to run from cops who happened to have an EMP gun.

Another article..... (3, Interesting)

elid (672471) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039481)

...can be found here [bayarea.com] .

Yet another article..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039600)

Can be found here [slashdot.org]

i hate to do this but..... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039482)

FP! =)

Dupe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039484)

I could swear I've seen this around Slashdot before. Maybe it was another site...

Yeah, well (2, Insightful)

ralico (446325) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039486)

The new law requires that manufacturers disclose the existence of such boxes in the vehicle's operators' manual

Who reads the manual?

Re:Yeah, well (2, Insightful)

cgranade (702534) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039522)

Me. It's important to know all about the car. I don't know about anyone else, but I always try to read manuals.

Re:Yeah, well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039577)

. . . but I always try to read manuals.

And you call yourself a techie?!!

Re:Yeah, well (3, Interesting)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039625)

Speaking of car manuals, too bad more people wouldn't read them. Here in Canada most cars are equipped with daytime running lights which engage a low power high beam when the car is running (it increases visibility, even in bright clear days). The problem is that people tend to be overly paranoid about their car battery at the drive-in, so they incessantly start and then turn off their car. The little tidbit in most manuals, however, is that engaging your parking brake (including in automatics) before turning on the car turns off the daytime running lights. Just a little factoid to be aware of.

Of course I didn't learn this from the manual (though I verified that it was there): I discovered it after running out from the car and returning with the parking brake engaged.

Re:Yeah, well (3, Funny)

JVert (578547) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039858)

Drive in?

You guys are like really still in the 90's arn't you? Btw when 2000 comes along for you, dont worry its a bunch of hype.

Not really, but seriously I renember seeing that when I was a kid, but are you sure its car battery paranoia or defrosting their windows and heating the air?

Re:Yeah, well (3, Funny)

madcow_ucsb (222054) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039684)

Reading a manual when you first buy something or start a project is fine. It only makes you less of a man if you start on a project and have to look at the manual halfway through. Then you're admitting defeat.

Re:Yeah, well (1)

nitrocloud (706140) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039802)

How about try it, writing the manual as you go. If something fails... screw it, come back later, if it still doesn't work, it's not your fault...

Re:Yeah, well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039536)

Yeah, what this law seems to be is just to make so everyone can be aware that they are being watched. Its the peoples free choice to read the manual and know it. Big deal, nothing really changes.

I can see it now... (2, Funny)

Omicron32 (646469) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039551)

A wave of car manufactures will put stickers on the steering wheel saying "RTFM n00b".

Re:Yeah, well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039679)

Me - and I remember reading that my 2004 manual specifically mentioned the "black box" and that it records airbag deployment, seatbelt status, etc. Taking pride in *not* reading manuals is simply a sign of egotistical macho-ness.

Re:Yeah, well (2, Informative)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039849)

Who reads the manual?

And what's more important, does the manual explain how to turn the system off? And is the system tied in with some critical safety system such as airbags, so that turning off the system will possibly be illegal or at the very least unsafe? I'd like to see the law say that drivers have the option to turn this unit off without compromising vehicle safety features.

Yea, (4, Funny)

gsparrow (696382) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039488)

Finally a reason to be proud of california

Removal (2, Interesting)

bossesjoe (675859) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039492)

I wonder if the cars work without the box? If they do I'll just take mine out

Re:Removal (3, Informative)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039664)

My understanding is that they are quickly becoming an intrigal part of the on-board computer. If that's true then removal might not be very safe and would definitely void your warranty....

Re:Removal (1)

xlv (125699) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039778)

My understanding is that they are quickly becoming an intrigal part of the on-board computer. If that's true then removal might not be very safe and would definitely void your warranty....

and probably limit/void your insurance coverage which is most likely more damaging than your car warranty in case of a crash...

Re:Removal (1)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039922)

Exactly. Insurance companies are looking for any way to claim that you are a risk and drop your coverage without giving you a pro-rated refund on your premiums. For example my parents just built a log home. Farm Bureau will not insure if it they put a wood-burning stove in that house. My folks built in rural America. It's not exactly across the street from the White House. It's asinine for Farm Bureau to think that a wood-burning stove is any more of a risk than a propane furnace. They will also deny your automotive claim if you failed to have every single recall maintenance done on your vehicle, even if it was unrelated to the claim. That's an interesting one. Insurance companies are a legalized crime organization as far as I'm concerned. I hope to someday be rich enough to be self-insured. Someday... :-)

Re:Removal (5, Informative)

ralphus (577885) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039955)

no, you wouldn't definately void your warranty. The Magnunson Moss warranty act (federal law) makes it illegal for manufacturers to automatically void your warranty based on modifications you make excepting that they can prove the modification you made was the cause of the failure.

see: US Code Title 15, Chapter 60, sections 2301-2312 [cornell.edu]

I've been making modifications to my vehicles for years, and never had warranty claims problems on other ares of the vehicle. I've completely replaced the *entire* computer on my ducati and it's still covered. The new computer is not, but the rest of the bike that the manufacturer provided is.

Re:Removal (1)

CaptainFrito (599630) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039785)

Yet another reason to hang on to my mid-sixties Ford

Re:Removal (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039918)

Considering that the fuel injection and electronic ignition need a computer to work, I would say not at all. It's not a separate black box, it's built in to the engine computer.

Except for the Tiny Loophole (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039493)

I'm sure, that says, "except whenever."

Damn... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039499)

Getting Rid of Spam, *AND* protecting us from little black boxes. I'm starting to dig this whole recall thing...

It sure is helping us little guys...

Re:Damn... (1)

E-Mind (553686) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039930)

Davis knows he is going to lose to schwarzenegger and so he decides to put him under political pressure when his turn comes. All of his current moves are good for the little guy but are they going to remain after the change? Who knows...

He (Arnold) is going to face all the pressure of the rich and all-powerful lobbyists and doing any of them a favor would be going against one large voting sector or another.

Arnold will have to keep the status-quo if he wants to look good to the public, but will get a lot of angry lobbyists working against him.

I guess only time will tell...

Media (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039501)

(from the article)

The devices, which record information on a continuous loop that rewrites itself every few seconds, lock the information in place only after an accident that deploys an air-bag.

Anyone know what sort of media they're talking about? The phrasing implies tape, but obviously there isn't a Commodore 64 Tape Drive [lofi-gaming.org.uk] hiding under your seat.

I called in the experts (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039524)

The GNAA agree that there is a black man making notches on his penis in binary and feeding it through a reader.

Re:Media (5, Informative)

takutai (265094) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039618)

The recording is made in a constant 5 second loop to normal RAM. As soon as an airbag deployment event (or "near deployment" - whatever that means) occurs that 5 seconds of RAM data is copied to non-volatile write-once RAM. That is why you need to replace your SDM (Sensing Diagnostic Module) after the air bags have been deployed.

Re:Media (1)

herrvinny (698679) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039746)

just as a point of reference, how much does this write once ram cost?

Re:Media (2, Funny)

CaptainFrito (599630) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039815)

I think 8-Track tapes were a continuously looping design. That's it -- we'll just make those silly black boxes play classic Grand Funk Railroad tunes while the airbag is deploying. Breathalyze that.

Scary (1)

El Pollo Loco (562236) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039504)

I didn't even know this data was being collected. I'm not sure anything bad is happening with it, however. In fact, it could be good for impartial descriptions of accidents. But with the potential for misuse, and my natural distrust of people, I'm not sure I would like it either way.

Re:Scary (1)

cgranade (702534) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039548)

I would wonder about what kind of data is being collected anyway. Voice data? Gauge readings? Hell, external video streams? One does wonder...

nah. (1)

rebelcool (247749) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039744)

most of it is mundane. O2 levels, fuel readings, etc. It records speed, however, as its useful for a bunch of various calculations (like optimal fuel consumption).

So what these are used for is say you get in a fatal wreck and claim you were doing 45 mph. Witnesses disagree and say you were doing a more reckless 70. Who's to say? Well, the data contained by the car's computer isn't going to lie. It means the difference between accident and manslaughter, in some cases.

Dang nammit! (4, Funny)

Dark Coder (66759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039518)

Shoot.

How the heck am I going to determine if my kids have been:

1. speeding
2. not wearing seatbelt
3. popping air-bags
4. drifting
5. figure-eighting
6. parking off a secluded roadside

Big brother, I miss ya!

Re:Dang nammit! (4, Insightful)

FyreFiend (81607) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039542)

Easy. Ask yourself, "Did I do that at thair age?" If the answer's yes, then odds are they're doing it

Re:Dang nammit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039608)

Gee golly, well, if you were a good parent then you wouldn't have to worry about it. But you weren't. You fucked up.

Get snipped people. It's cheap.

Re:Dang nammit! (1)

DynamicBits (542509) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039634)

How the heck am I going to determine if my kids have been:

[...]
3. popping air-bags

If you can't tell this one with a quick glance at the car, I don't know how the black box would ever be of any use to you.

Re:Dang nammit! (1)

at_kernel_99 (659988) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039641)

Dude, it only said they can't use the data without court order / subpoena. It did not say the data cannot be collected. You just need to plug into the DRB II plug under the hood & peruse such data to your heart's delight. The question is, can you modify the data? Say, if I needed to, uh, purge my record for some reason?

Re:Dang nammit! (1)

littlerubberfeet (453565) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039819)

To purge your data, simply run the car for five seconds.

To Purge your data AFTER an accident, put in a new write-once ROM module, and if it doesn't look altered, then people will assume the onboard diagnostics screwed up.

Re:Dang nammit! (1)

sssmashy (612587) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039688)

If you were hoping that the black boxes would help you spy on your kids, think again. The recorded information in the black boxes can be downloaded only after a crash.

At that point, you'll probably be able to find much more compelling evidence that something was amiss... like the smoldering ruins of your new Buick.

Re:Dang nammit! (1)

kramer (19951) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039775)

It says you can't use it without a court order or permission of the owner. If you own the car your kid's using it seems trivial to prove you consent to your own snooping.

20th post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039523)

This topic is so boring I couldn't come up with a good troll.

These boxes should be (0)

zlevenz (707505) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039528)

submitted and used by the State as evidence. Honestly, if these individuals would rather not be exposed, perhaps they should remove these black boxes! Otherwise, we should use them to expose the fradulent drivers. If their recollection is factual, what have they to fear?

Airlines are required to surrender their black boxes to a government agency for analysis. Why should motorists be treated any differently?

Compass and a clock? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039538)

Will it have a compass and a clock, which will help determine the orientation of the car(s) involved in an accident?

How long before.... (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039545)

this thread becomes yet another "what about terrorists" thread.

Re:How long before.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039604)

How long before this thread becomes yet another "what about terrorists" thread.

This is Slashdot. We are the terrorists.

Re:How long before.... (1)

cgranade (702534) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039626)

It just did... [slashdot.org]

Re:How long before.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039831)

/.: Stuff that matters to people that don't
+5 funny

"Or without a court order"? (3, Insightful)

Large Green Mallard (31462) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039556)

So what they mean is, unless you get sued... You crash a car into someone. You say you were going under the limit, the insurance company knows your car has one of these black boxes in it. Insurance company says to court "we don't think he was going the limit due to skid marks/someone saying he looked like he was going pretty fast/previous record", gets court order, information obtained, insurance claim denied. say the person you hit wants a piece of the actio, they say "his insurance company isn't paying out, I think he was going too fast, give me the black box data", gets a court order, sues your ass off.

So basically it's as useful as the constitutional amendments that begin "Congress shall make no law..." and end in "unless it makes a law that says it can"

You must be a terrorist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039586)

2nd Amendment trolls piss me off. Go off into the hills of Georgia and blow your head off with your 15 assault rifles and 36 shotguns.

The rest of us want to live in a sane, peaceful world.

Re:"Or without a court order"? (4, Insightful)

realdpk (116490) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039627)

So, you're saying, you want to be able to lie to your insurance company, and then the court, about how fast you were going?

Now, I'm not a fan of this black box thing, but I don't think you're going to win much sympathy here.

Re:"Or without a court order"? (2, Insightful)

ecalkin (468811) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039680)

my concern with this is that it won't be bi-directional. it seems that there is every opportunity to have the black box used against you (i.e. the insurance company looking to prove you were speeding), but i somehow doubt that they will rush out to tell you about the black box that might prove that you were not. and i can't wait for the insurance company lawyers to try to toss the box out by claiming whatever when it doesn't read in their favor.

eric

Re:"Or without a court order"? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039717)

i somehow doubt that they will rush out to tell you about the black box that might prove that you were not.

Yes, the other guy's insurance company won't go out of their way to give you data to exonerate yourself.

But your insurance company sure will - if only because it's their $$$ on the line (a damn good reason to carry a policy with high max limits - no insurance company is going to go way out of its way on lawyer bills to protect themselves from losing $50,000. Make it $2,000,000, though, and they will....)

Re:"Or without a court order"? (1)

madcow_ucsb (222054) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039720)

Well in a lawsuit, you're welcome to bring your own exhibits. I don't think there's a law against accessing your own data, so have the dealer or whoever access it and submit it for the court to see. I think this could actually be pretty useful for both sides. And if another post is correct and it only captures the last 5sec or so before airbag deployment, I don't think there's much room for abuse there.

As for the lawyers trying to get it tossed out...well, I guess whether that works would depend on the judge and the circumstances.

then clearly... (2, Insightful)

rebelcool (247749) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039725)

before going to court *you* should get your box's data analyzed by a third party. Obviously you have a right to view the data contained within your own automobile. This law doesn't restrict your personal use.

Re:"Or without a court order"? (1)

Large Green Mallard (31462) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039912)

No, not at all, but my point is that this new law would be useless for all intents and purposes.

Re:"Or without a court order"? (1)

SkArcher (676201) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039650)

Or, more acurately, unless you were acting illegally.

If the device aids in actually implementing a law, isn't that fine? Or do you like the idea of being hit by a speeding motorist and not being allowed to prove he was speeding?

Re:"Or without a court order"? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039884)

A black box in my car may not obtrusive as satellite tracking or a camera on every street corner, but it's still the same principle.

No fault. (1)

LothDaddy (169765) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039731)

IIRC, California is a no fault auto insurance place (like my home state of Michigan). Therefore I'm fairly certain that "sues your ass off." could not happen. But I could be wrong as I do live in Texas.

Why the hoopla? (4, Interesting)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039568)

Driving a vehicle on a public road is an eminently public act, and those who do it shall have no more expectations of privacy than someone picking his nose in front of Sack's Fifth Avenue on the morning rush-hour.

The collection of vehicle control evidence is a crucial step in the investigation of traffic accidents. Sheltering that information from the authorities has only one purpose, to shield delinquent drivers from retribution for their unlawful acts.

Even moreso, vehicular event recorders should hold at least 30 minutes of data, including video data, and be downloadable at distance by law enforcement.

Shall we also say again that driving a car is a mere PRIVILEGE and far from being a right????

Re:Why the hoopla? (4, Insightful)

cgranade (702534) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039606)

The collection of vehicle control evidence is a crucial step in the investigation of traffic accidents. Sheltering that information from the authorities has only one purpose, to shield delinquent drivers from retribution for their unlawful acts.
I think we've already been through the loop about "If you aren't ${someevilthing}, then you have nothing to worry about." Well, haven't you ever been late to a critical meeting and gone 10mph above the limit? Haven't you ever forgotten to buckle your seatbelt? And don't even get me started on video/audio data collection... My conversations within a car are indeed private, and should not be accesible by the police, the SS or DHS, or what ever. Especially not at-a-distance-we-don't-have-to-tell-you-PATRIOT-AC T-style.

Shall we also say again that driving a car is a mere PRIVILEGE and far from being a right????
That very well may be, and probably is, but the possesion of that privilege does not nullify a more fundamental right to privacy.

Re:Why the hoopla? (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039722)

Well, haven't you ever been late to a critical meeting and gone 10mph above the limit? Haven't you ever forgotten to buckle your seatbelt?

Despite having "good" reasons for doing these things, they're still unsafe and illegal. If you speed and/or don't wear your seatbelt, that information SHOULD be accessable in the case of an accident because they are quite relevant to who is at fault, and why injuries were sustained. This information is essential in determining true and fair damages. There's not always a witness around, and a lot of the times it turns into a "he-said, she-said" deal where it's impossible to tell who was at fault.

I'm not sure I agree with the whole video/audio thing. I can see where external video would come in handy, but I can also see the potential for misuse. If it could be made so that the video was encrypted and password protected by the owner (with courts being able to subpoena the password when a dispute arises), I would be more supportive.

-- Dr. Eldarion --

Re:Why the hoopla? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039612)

Being able to move from place to place in the manner that fits the time (walking, horse, car, plane) is definitely not a privelege, but rather a right. Especially if I'm paying half my income to build the needed infrastructure.

Naturally, this right can be revoked in case of DUI, etc. Just like many other rights.

Re:Why the hoopla? (4, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039670)

Even moreso, vehicular event recorders should hold at least 30 minutes of data, including video data, and be downloadable at distance by law enforcement.

That's fine by me, but only so long as I'm allowed to remotely download the black box of any police car whenever I choose.

Re:Why the hoopla? (4, Interesting)

Bagheera (71311) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039743)

Driving a vehicle on a public road is an eminently public act, and those who do it shall have no more expectations of privacy than someone picking his nose in front of Sack's Fifth Avenue on the morning rush-hour.

True, it is an eminently public act. HOWEVER, to abuse your Fifth Ave analogy, picking your nose at 0237 is a more or less private act because you have a reasonable expectation that no one will see you do it.

The collection of vehicle control evidence is a crucial step in the investigation of traffic accidents. Sheltering that information from the authorities has only one purpose, to shield delinquent drivers from retribution for their unlawful acts.

Certainly AFTER THERE HAS BEEN AN ACCIDENT. Which is what this California law is intended to protect. Your remote download proposal leads down the slippery slope of downloading your logs and fining you based on infractions that it recorded.

Yes, there are traffic laws. But the fact is nearly everyone pushes them to one extant or another. Whether it's 5 miles an hour over - or 15 over because that's how fast traffic is going. Most traffic laws are in place to guard the public safety. It's been shown in numerous studies (look them up) that it's the DIFFERENCE in speed between vehicles, not the absolute speed that matters.

There's a reason the California Highway Patrol will cruise merrily past a pack of cars travelling at 72 in a 65 zone. They are all technically speeding, but none of them are posing a hazard.

(Of course, CA doesn't use Highway Patrol fines as a major revenue stream as some other states do.)

What this law should do is prevent municipalities and insurance companies et al from abusing the data gathered with the cars onboard systems. Your suggestion reeks of Big Brother.

Regretably, unless more people stand up for their civil liberties, we'll see just the kind of invasive data collection you propose.

Shall we also say again that driving a car is a mere PRIVILEGE and far from being a right????

No argument there. But I won't go into my argument about why it should be considerably more difficult to get a license in the first place. Simple fact is that if drivers were better trained, traffic incidents would drop dramatically.

Conversly (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039816)

Conversly, black boxes could be used to prove your innosence. Cop says you were going 5 over? Pull up your handly Linux interface terminal and say, "See officer? I've been going 55 for the past four miles, except where I passed a guy there, and where a guy braked to turn in front of me."

I've been thinking about installing such a device in my car, just for that reason.

My real concern in a terrorism investigation lay in federal "investigators" confiscating your black box as evidence, when that "evidence" would clear your name. I wouldn't put it past them.

Re:Why the hoopla? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039848)

Oh, and a hearty "hear hear" on the need for driver's ed improvement.

Look at all the training you have to go through to get a pilot's license. I don't think you could do much more damage flying a single engine prop plane recklessly for an hour per week than driving a corvette recklessly through the suburbs for two hours a day.

Re:Why the hoopla? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039789)

actually, freedom of anonymous travel and assembly are in the 1st ammendment

Re:Why the hoopla? (1)

ashkar (319969) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039901)

There have been several well thought out retorts to your arguments, but one point I disagree with has been overlooked or agreed with by most.
Shall we also say again that driving a car is a mere PRIVILEGE and far from being a right????
Being able to move yourself from one place to another is a right no matter how it is accomplished. That right should be denied to those that abuse it, but only those that abuse it. The current driving system is a scam that is legitimized through people's fear. All it does is allow easy revenue through excessive monitoring of those citizens that drive cars.

There's an easy way to evade the regulation (4, Funny)

product byproduct (628318) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039569)

The manufacturer could paint the box blue.

Ruling based on wording or intent? (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039920)

The "black boxes" in airplanes are danger-yellow with black stripes. Would a judge rule on its used based on the wording ("black box") or on the intent? ("status recording device")

(I've never seen the actual law, they might be more specific than "black box".)

Over long periods of time, the assumed intent of a law can be questioned. (Think "right to bear arms") Also, over long periods of time, the wording of a law may not mean the same thing.

Okay, but... (3, Interesting)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039574)

How exactly was the data going to get used without a court order? I mean I would be concerned if I were in a car accident or something that this data could be used against me, but it sounds like it still can, if the court orders it. Maybe it should be mandatory that you be allowed to deactivate or remove these things, like you can with airbags. I like the idea of at least being able to opt-out of the monitoring of my car's usage in any way.


Now if only the government gave the foggiest shit about electronic privacy. People understand "little black box sitting in your car", and they just don't seem to get the other privacy atrocities that go on every day.

Good for them (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039590)

California is a weird state but sometimes ... they get things right. I'm impressed (and a bit shaken ... I didn't know the OBD modules were being used that way.)

Black Boxes could be used to stop crime. (1)

zymano (581466) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039599)

The automobile is the biggest weapon that criminals use in the expanses of the 50 states. The automobile is used to hide victims in trunks and alows safe getaways for criminals. If there is a way to use black boxes for evidence in murders and major burglaries then it should be used.

AB 213 (3, Informative)

minesweeper (580162) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039610)

For those interested, here is a link to the text of Assembly Bill 213, sponsored by Assemblyman Tim Leslie:

CA Assembly Bill 213 [ca.gov]

I'd gladly allow access to my blackbox... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039614)

...if my insurance company in exchange would give me a sizable break on my $$$ premiums.

Re:I'd gladly allow access to my blackbox... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039686)

From one anonymous coward to another...
With a title like yours, I thought you'd be hiding a link to the goatse guy [tinyurl.com] .

Are you feeling lucky?

In other words, (1)

civad (569109) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039617)

In recent years, O'Neill said, data from the the devices has found its way into court -- primarily to defend automakers in cases where consumers claimed a vehicle malfunctioned. In at least one case, the recorded data was used as evidence in a vehicle accident.

If I had an accident, and I try to hold the automobile company responsible, can I be sued by them for being a bad driver?

Re:In other words, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039784)

You can be sued for just about anything. "Bad driver" is just the beginning.

Too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039633)

For awhile I was hoping that the presence of black boxes might deter people from speeding and driving so recklessly, since their indiscretions might come out in embarassing ways. Traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of accidental death in the industrialized world. Hundreds of families are destroyed every year because of irresponsible drivers.

This technology had the potential to save perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives. Typical that the screaming alarmists would bring an end to that with this useless and ridiculous legislation.

More Information... (2, Informative)

Erik_the_Awful (675368) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039636)

Check:
http://slate.msn.com/id/2087207/
http://w ww.accidentreconstruction.com/research/edr /faq.asp

They use the OBD-II interface (Same interface the DEQ guys use to make sure your car isn't pumping out too many noxious fumes.) 5 seconds of data are stored in an EEPROM.

Sorry this sucks (1)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039647)

The place where this would most likely and most often be used would be auto accidents. This is not a question of the state vs an individual, its a question of an individual vs an individual with the state trying to determine the correct state of affairs. As someone who was in an accident, and had the ticket wrongly awarded to him I welcome this. Next time I won't have to worry about someone having their family members lie that they were watching someone pull out from an apt building when they were thireen floors up and on the other side of the building.

Great Idead (2, Informative)

niko9 (315647) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039657)

The new law requires that manufacturers disclose the existence of such boxes in the vehicle's operators' manual.

Great idea. People should know that there's a balck box in their car. Maybe they'll think twice about that reckeless maneuver their going to pull.

A previous poster mentioned dupe, this is not. The previous article [slashdot.org] mentioned how someone was convicted of killing somone 'cause they decided to do ~100 mph down a 25mph resedential street.

Hypothetical future dialog: "Hey son, I trust you and all, but be aware that fi you do try to show off to your prom date tonight, and maybe, umm I dunno, kill someone while your at it, that blackbox recorder could put you away for a long time. Here are the keys, by the way."

Maybe some of this info could also be used to help prosecute people who stage accidents for insurance fruad. I get so sick of seeing these thigs happening. 6 people all loaded up in 2 cars, they bump at 10mph, cry neck and back pain, but they have no idead who they are sitting next to in the same vehicle!

that recorder already exists (1)

rebelcool (247749) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039877)

I forget the name of it. But there are currently data recorders on the market which plug into the OBDII and save the data - one is specifically marketed to households with teenage drivers.

Car tuners have for quite awhile been using similar systems.

Who's care (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039682)

In the contract the manufacturer will add in very little caracters the rights to do everything it wants with the black box !

"Unless there's a court order" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039687)

Uhhhh, I can't speak for anyone else, but the only people I WANT to keep from getting their hands on the black box data away from is a court.

Re:"Unless there's a court order" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039732)

fuck off

I agree with the privacy concerns, but (2, Interesting)

utexaspunk (527541) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039696)

...it could be very useful if manufacturers could get black-box telemetry in an anonymous way. think of how much we've learned from black-boxes about airplane crashes, why they happen, and how to prevent them.

there could perhaps be engineering flaws which would could be revealed a lot sooner by analyzing black-box data, possibly saving lives.

this is the idea behind some of them (1)

rebelcool (247749) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039792)

Most vehicles computers store the last few seconds of data, but a few are outfitted with recorders that save the data if an airbag is deployed. The manufacturers can use this data to perform analysis on what the cars were doing and so on.

I believe Volvo goes so far as to dispatch an 'accident team' if a wreck involving one of their cars occurs within a few kilometers of their safety division headquarters. They find out what happened, how the car reacted, etc.

GET REAL! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039738)

Yeah right... As if this is a privacy issue.. The box doesn't store personal information about anyone... All it does is record what the car was doing for 4 seconds before a crash.. It only locks the data away in memory if the car has crashed... OMG.. A computer recording my last actions before a crash.. GOSH.. er driving is a PRIVELAGE not a RIGHT.. Try arguing privacy with your driving tester (I mean what if you crash and their evidence means you take the blame.. WELL BAD LUCK.. ITS YOUR FAULT.. WHO COULD POSSIBLY BE AGAINST THIS EXCEPT PEOPLE WHO ARE SCARED OF HAVING THE TRUE NATURE OF THEY WAY THEY DRIVE EXPOSED AFTER ITS LED TO A SERIOUS ACCIDENT... I know, even better!!.. why don't we take black box recorders out of aircraft to protect the privacy of the pilots.. Yeah, thats a good idea.. You don't have the right to total privacy when you are driving because you have to share the road with other people.

Legal Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039739)

Could I put a mail server in one of these boxes and use that to send spam in California?

As always, they missed a spot (2, Insightful)

IBitOBear (410965) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039750)

They should have also protected "the operator" of the vehicle.

This does nothig to protect a person from the abuse of the information when they Rent a car (c.f. the story of the "speeding penalty" enacted by the one rental agency) or when a person has a "company car".

Finally, one wonders whether this separates the purchasers and leasees of cars into two separately and unequally protected classes.

After all, if you lease a car, your leasing company owns it. So the police could end-around and make a request of them to access the black-box.

Then again, section 215 [aclu.org] lets the FBI do any dang thing they want in the search and seizure arena despite the Constitution.

still don't want the boxes (2, Interesting)

Daniel Quinlan (153105) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039763)

I'll be honest. I do not want any data recording devices in my car because the information gathered by the box could be held against me in any number of ways. Maybe it can improve car safety over time, but with vehicle laws and civil lawsuits being the way they are, I don't want the equivalent of the permanent wire-tap on my driving. If the data is there and any legal situation comes up where it could be useful, it will be used and if these devices are regulated into cars, you won't have any choice about it (obstruction of justice, destroying evidence, anti-tampering laws, etc.).

There might be some number of times where the devices could be used to prove your innocence or lack of liability, but I'd rather take my chances without the devices. I mean, how often does anyone really drive the speed limit on the highway?

Of course, my 2002 probably already has something of the sort and I'm probably just ignorant about it. Anyway, I think car safety can be improved over time almost as well without the boxes and the adjoining less of privacy.

all cars record at least some data (2, Interesting)

rebelcool (247749) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039828)

They have to, for the fundamental operation of the engine.


Your engine computer contains some non-voltile memory that saves any error codes your engine may throw up (misfire, malfunctioning O2 sensor, emissions problem..anything that causes your 'check engine' light to come on) so your mechanical can quickly diagnose problems. For economical reasons, they usually use this same nvram chip to hold the running data for the engine. O2 readings, fuel data and of course, Speed, because vehicle speed is integral to calculating optimum fuel and air consumption for the engine. Other things like spark timing and camshaft positions are recorded too. All kinds of mundane data.

As such, your engine computer usually holds a few seconds of this data in its memory. Now get in a wreck, computer loses power, but since they use nonvolatile memory the last few seconds of data are probably in there.

mod the box (2, Interesting)

SparklesMalone (623241) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039825)

This is the first I've even heard of the box, but what's to keep someone from modding the input so ANY accident looks like they were sitting still? Heck, mod the box, pull up to the light in front of a guy you hate, slam into him in reverse, then use the box to sue his pants off.

The court shouldn't use a device like this without the appropriate wariness to it's vulnerabilities.

Fifth Element (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7039954)

I've got a better idea - how about we just quit with the messing around and move directly to a Fifth Element style 'cop in the dashboard' system which deducts points every time I do something wrong? So long as the data is being recorded it is going to be accessible to the courts and therefore insurance companies. It's bad enough with ridiculously low speed limits (in Australia as low as 40kph, and 50kph in most built up areas, down from 60kph only a few years ago because according to, you guessed it, our insurance companies, it was to save lives left right and centre - yet my premiums have been on a steady increase! what gives?), radar detector bans and speed cameras everywhere, without having to worry about that new car dobbing you in for disobeying the rules when some idiot pulls/walks out in front of you! That said I guess this law will provide some amount of protection to a select few - presumably the information the would have been available in the same way that your tyres can be examined for wear is now more difficult to obtain. That said, suspicion is probably all that is required to obtain a court order, and you can bet they'll be requested as a matter of course anyway!

Indroduce Errors? (1)

samj (115984) | more than 10 years ago | (#7039986)

One way to derive benefits from the statistics while protecting drivers from their own vehicles would be for the boxes to introduce the occasional error into the data - outliers will be filtered out when the stats are processed, but the figures will no longer be able to be trusted for avoiding claims and the like. If the information's recorded accurately, it's there to be abused.
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