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Car Owners to be Notified of Blackboxes in Vehicle

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the spy-in-the-cab dept.

334

smooth wombat writes "As a follow-up to this long ago posting, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has passed a resolution requiring car manufacturers to inform buyers if their cars are equipped with Event Data Recorders (EDRs). The new regulation also standardizes what information is to be collected. Car manufacturers must comply with the new regulation beginning in the 2011 model year."

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whoo hooo!! (1)

z0I!) (914679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951385)

5 years of collecting any kind of data we want, without telling anyone!

Hysterical over nothing, data doesn't leave car (2, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951421)

5 years of collecting any kind of data we want, without telling anyone!

If the data is a loop of recent events and data is not leaving your car how are they watching you?

Re:Hysterical over nothing, data doesn't leave car (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951453)

Because in the event of an accident the police can easily download the events off the black box and use it against you in court. It's happened several times already.

Re:Hysterical over nothing, data doesn't leave car (4, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951501)

""5 years of collecting any kind of data we want, without telling anyone!""

"If the data is a loop of recent events and data is not leaving your car how are they watching you?"

Because in the event of an accident the police can easily download the events off the black box and use it against you in court. It's happened several times already.


That's not the collecting 5 years of data. the statement that I questioned. Secondly, I bet you are being told if the police are touching your vehicle. Alternatively your insurance company may have right to the data and they may turn it over, but you had agreed to that, so you were told. My question stands.

Re:Hysterical over nothing, data doesn't leave car (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951539)

Technically once the vehicle is totaled it becomes property of the insurance company and they need no such authorization from the owner. Your permission is NOT needed for them to collect the data.

Re:Hysterical over nothing, data doesn't leave car (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951625)

The data is my intellectual property. Their copying it violates my copyright. Even the insurance companies are scared of the DMCA.

Re:Hysterical over nothing, data doesn't leave car (4, Interesting)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951753)

while totally irrelevant, it lead to an interesting thought... the data in the recorder is a unique pattern generated by the drivers purposeful actions- eg the data was explicitly designed by the driver and therefore is automatically copyrighted on their behalf..

now perhaps that wouldn't fly in court, but it's an interesting thought.

Re:Hysterical over nothing, data doesn't leave car (3, Informative)

JonWan (456212) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951727)

Not until I agree to the insurance payoff and sign it over, it's mine until then.

Been there and done that one.

Re:Hysterical over nothing, data doesn't leave car (2, Insightful)

z0I!) (914679) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951555)

I didn't mean 5 years worth of data, but rather that there is a period of 5 years during which car companies can record any kind of data about the car/driver that they want, and they don't have to tell you about it. Although the article suggest only a few seconds (minutes?) before a crash a recorded, this isn't absolutely clear. And since there are no regulations now, there is nothing stopping companies from performing more invasive logging. As other posts mention, a car mechanic could potentially access this data and give it to anyone. Whether this is good or bad can be left up to our imaginations.

Re:Hysterical over nothing, data doesn't leave car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951746)

As other posts mention, a car mechanic could potentially access this data and give it to anyone

There have already been several incidents of electronic records being used to deny warranties under the "abuse/racing" clauses. Personally, if you're racing your car you should have no expectation of your warranty being honored, but:

1) Not all the data is only a few minutes old
2) Folks have plenty of opportunity to get at that data

Re:Hysterical over nothing, data doesn't leave car (1)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951768)

And that is how the data should be used

Re:Hysterical over nothing, data doesn't leave car (1)

o-hayo (700478) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951569)

If the data is a loop of recent events and data is not leaving your car how are they watching you?
Ya. Suuuuuure its not leaving the car.
[...begins work on constructing a Faraday cage for his new car.]

Re:Hysterical over nothing, data doesn't leave car (1)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951947)

If the data is a loop of recent events and data is not leaving your car how are they watching you?

Does it have write only memory? If the answer is "no" then they can watch you.

I like it. (4, Interesting)

yagu (721525) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951393)

One thing I've always feared: some huge speed bump because after some driving incident/accident I'm embroiled in an "I said/you said" recount of the event. I try to be as safe a driver as possible and have managed 30+ accident-free years. But almost every trip is an adventure with crazies on the road every day. This black box technology could hedge my (and others) bets on accurately describing what "went down".

I don't like the thought someone would be watching me all the time like Big Brother, but on the other hand if I get t-boned, and the other party claims I ran a red light or some other nonsense I like the thought there could be an electronic record showing the other party was traveling way over the speed limit, weaving, slamming brakes, etc. right up to the event.

It could be a great equalizer for insurance rates. It could even spur better driving in on whole by the general populace (some drivers of course and their negligence is intractable).

And, as for the breach in privacy, I don't see much demand and/or interest in the type of data described in the article in contexts other than accidents. If you're accident free, why would the data be interesting?

(Aside: I actually installed a "Car Chip" in my car for personal monitoring. Most notably I was surprised at the frequency of "hard accelerations" -- far more than I'd have guessed. The data was charted against distance, and I was able to "see" where I was "hard accelerating". Interestingly after knowing this, and paying more attention to accelerating I self-modified my habits and the mileage for my car (Civic) increased almost 6%.)

(NOTE: this doesn't address and/or discuss the notion of tracking movement and travel via mechanisms such as GPS... a whole other ball of wax in privacy discussions.)

Re:I like it. (5, Insightful)

rkcallaghan (858110) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951414)

This black box technology could hedge my (and others) bets on accurately describing what "went down".

No, not really. You see, the black box can tell your insurance company that you were going 5 over the limit to pass someone, which could invalidate your claim (you were speeding). It has no idea that the other party was a 30-something on their cell phone with their laptop open, swerving to avoid the teenagers joyriding in the wrong lane with their lights off.

~Rebecca

Re:I like it. (2)

Not_Wiggins (686627) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951561)

No, you missed the GP post's point...
The blackbox in the idiot's car would indicate his reckless driving.

Re:I like it. (1)

RevDobbs (313888) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951617)

How? Is it recording lateral acceleration, i.e. swerving? Are all the black boxes syncing their times with some NTP server, that along with a properly-synced traffic light can tell who actually had the red or green light on a given intersection?

Re:I like it. (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951715)

FTA: ...they do record things like speed, steering wheel movement, how hard the brakes are being pressed and the actual movement of the car itself.

There's your lateral movement.

And running a red light? That's what the red light cameras are for.

Re:I like it. (1)

Not_Wiggins (686627) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951751)

Why not record swerving? I would imagine that such devices would be recording all sorts of information including vertical acceleration (why not?).

The point isn't having absolute proof, but evidence that could support a story.

For example, if my car shows that I'm going from 0 to 10 miles per hour and the other car accelerated from 30 to 45 right before the accident, it would support my "the light turned green and I started to go when I got t-boned" story instead of his "*I* had the green light and he ran the red." Time sync isn't necessary; one just has to run the event clock backwards from each car's recording of the crash.

Even with that said, such evidence could lead one to the wrong conclusion (take the above example, but assume the t-boning car actually _did_ have the green and I rolled out in front of him on purpose)... that would be quite a temptation for insurance fraud con artists. 8/

Re:I like it. (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951709)

No, you missed the GP post's point.

And you missed the counter-argument's point.

The blackbox in the idiot's car would indicate his reckless driving.

What if it turns out HIS blackbox shows him driving straight and normal at the speedlimit. (sure he still ran a red light and t-boned you... but the blackbox shows nothing strange)... and YOUR blackbox shows you driving 2km over the limit with a recent swerves when you dodged a few pieces of debris on the road.

Sure he ran the red light, but your own blackbox paints an unflattering picture of your driving.

Its a knife that cuts both ways. Some times it will cut both ways at once; sure it might identify the other driver as a weaving/hard braking idiot -- but what if it also shows you were going slightly over the speed limit or had done some recent swerving around? Your insurance company might still nail you with higher rates or reduce their coverage.

Re:I like it. (1)

DJCacophony (832334) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951752)

If you're speeding then don't say you weren't, and the black box won't be used against you. The parent clearly said he was a safe driver.

Re:I like it. (2, Informative)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951870)

Not that I'm defending this practice, but speeding does not automatically result in an insurance claim being denied. Driving 2 MPH over the limit would never be seen as a reason to assign fault for an accident or deny a claim.

Re:I like it. (1)

LindseyJ (983603) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951656)

I don't know how it is where you live, but here in FL, passing speed (5mph or lower for short amounts of time) is not against the law and not considered 'speeding' and you cannot be ticketed for it.

Re:I like it. (1)

telchine (719345) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951723)

The black box can tell your insurance company that you were going 5 over the limit to pass someone [...] It has no idea that the other party was a 30-something on their cell phone with their laptop open, swerving to avoid the teenagers joyriding in the wrong lane

It's quite lucky you too were in the wrong lane as you were overtaking, otherwise something nasty could have happened!

Re:I like it. (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951740)

. . .the other party was a 30-something on their cell phone with their laptop open, swerving to avoid the teenagers joyriding in the wrong lane with their lights off.

Oh, right, like that happens.

KFG

Re:I like it. (1)

vmfedor (586158) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951813)

Backup?

What, me worry?

Re:I like it. (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951759)

Ultimately, it comes down to who has control of the data. If the police can routinely interrogate these devices without the vehicle owner's permission (much less a warrant) then they are of little value to the consumer. The preliminary OBDIII (On Board Diagnostics III) specifications that I've looked at include the ability for cops (or anyone with the proper equipment) to retrieve information from these things wirelessly and without notifying the driver. I really don't think I like that.

Frankly, there's a good chance that any such black box that is installed in any car I purchase will suffer the effects of a nearby lightning strike. Or maybe a transient short in the ignition system will take care of the problem. Unfortunately, odds are that this will not be a separate device but simply more memory and firmware in the existing vehicle computer.

Still ... firmware can be replaced.

Re:I like it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951920)

You do realize that OBDII is part of your car's computer. Things like, oh I dunno, fuel injection wouldn't function without it.

Re:I like it. (1)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951933)

>Still ... firmware can be replaced.

Until a law is passed preventing such modifications. Because the recorder functions will most likely be part of the engine control computer, the lawmakers will use concern over tailpipe emissions or something similar to outlaw modified firmware.

Re:I like it. (1)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952018)

So, just nudge the flash chip that the computer records to. It's got old data on it, perhaps; I could remove it entirely (and replace it if the car won't function otherwise), or I could leave the data on there after driving carefully for an appropriate distance.

Re:I like it. (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951447)

And, as for the breach in privacy, I don't see much demand and/or interest in the type of data described in the article in contexts other than accidents. If you're accident free, why would the data be interesting?

Driving habits could be of a lot of interest to car manufacturers and law enforcement, who could pay garages to secretly extract this information from any such logging device without your knowledge (unless the device is only constantly re-recording the last few seconds rather than keeping a complete history).

Re:I like it. (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951657)

It only has enough memory to record the data immediately preceding some significant event, like air-bag deployment.

Re:I like it. (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951868)

And that'll never change, when they decide that they can "fight terrorists" with this technology. Really!

Re:I like it. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951491)

I don't like it.

I go racing (on a track) and I don't want them to pull up the top speed of my car and try to say I did this on a public road. Who knows what data it collects but I'm sure the top speed is probably one of the bits.

Wouldn't it be great if your insurance company found out you were doing 180mph? Sure would.

Re:I like it. (1)

GmAz (916505) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951507)

This 'black box' won't be transmitting all the time. If an accident occurs, law inforcement or your insurance company can inspect the data.

Re:I like it. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951532)

So how does the blackbox records what traffic signal was there? You can run red light at 5mph and get tboned by someone going 25mph within speed limit weaving and slaming on the brakes.
It's a stoopid and dangerous idea to use this blackboxes in a court.

Re:I like it. (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951614)

That's what the Red Light cameras are for, obviously.

Re:I like it. (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951545)

This black box technology could hedge my (and others) bets on accurately describing what "went down".

Are you not concerned, it may lie/break? "He said vs. she said" has the (somewhat dubious) advantage, that neither side is 100% trusted...

Your box may be off by 15%, but no one will believe you...

Re:I like it. (1)

DJCacophony (832334) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951814)

Are you not concerned, your television might randomly implode?
Are you not concerned, somebody might have planted a bomb under your car?
Are you not concerned, somebody might have brought snakes onto your plane?

Re:I like it. (2, Interesting)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951693)

It could be a great equalizer for insurance rates. It could even spur better driving in on whole by the general populace (some drivers of course and their negligence is intractable).

On a purely selfish reason, I'd like to agree with you. I've mused many times about getting a camera for my car, like police cars, to catch some of these idiots doing some wonderfully graceful moves. I go 65-70 tops on the freeway, and pretty much everyone passes me... going 80...90...100... dodging, swerving, 4-lane changes at once... And if the boxes radioed back, compared to my pithy 5, I'll be on the low end of the graph and laugh as THEY get slammed with suddenly exponentially larger premiums.

But, as much as I'd like this to work the way I want it to, I've learned that there's no idea so good, so flawless, so deliciously perfect, that can't be twisted, mangled and misinterpreted with a little corporate and government fingering. So rather than a bait and switch, I'll stay against it and just hope that the CHP would get a bigger presence and start ticketing more.

Discount? (2, Insightful)

Alchemar (720449) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951770)

Remeber when you could pay for cable so that you didn't have to watch all the comercials? Remeber when you could get a customer service card and get a discount, instead of needing one to pay just under market value instead of 10% over market value? They might give people a discount on insurance until it is adopted, and then they are going to check the records and everything on there will be another reason to raise your rates. Even if you are a perfect driver, there will be times when you need to accelerate or brake. The current system can't tell what the speed limit was, so all that "hard acceleration" is the type of behavior they will look at, or the time you go out of state and the speed limit is 5 miles over the maximum speed in your home state.
I could see where you could use the information in a court case, but then why couldn't you submit your data. The other person may or may not consent to a search. If your data shows that you were driving correctly, now you have a reasonable cause to get a court order for the other guys data. At that point it would follow all the same laws as physically searching your vehicle

Re:I like it. (5, Insightful)

DJCacophony (832334) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951789)

"If you're accident free, why would the data be interesting?"

"If you're terrorist free, why would recordings of all your telephone conversations be interesting?"
"If you're treason free, why would a log of all your internet activity be interesting?"
"If you're not searching for child porn, why would a database of all your searches/web browsing being released to the general public be interesting?"

Re:I like it. (2, Funny)

aztec rain god (827341) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951917)

Reminds me of a joke I heard in a bar a while back- that the NHTSA was to require voice recorders in all trucks. In most of the country, right before a fatal wreck, the most commonly uttered phrase was "Oh shit!", but in Montana the most commonly uttered phrase was "Hold my beer, watch this!"

Re:I like it. (0)

greg_barton (5551) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951927)

I try to be as safe a driver as possible and have managed 30+ accident-free years. But almost every trip is an adventure with crazies on the road every day.

You haven't had an accident in 30+ years and you're still afraid of crazy drivers all of the time?

A bit paranoid, are we?

Of course, you'll say, "I haven't had an accident because I'm paranoiod!"

And, of course, any paranoid person would say that. They are all out to get you, after all.

Happy stress driving, grandpa!

Good move... (2, Informative)

ral315 (741081) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951395)

But what happens when all cars have black boxes, and there's no way to avoid buying a new car with one in it?

Re:Good move... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951426)

black boxes are designed to be removed, like removable hard drives. Just unplug it. I won't. as having it plugged in would be a bonus. As long as the data stays on the device until an accident. As it can't be used against you when you go for your annual car inspections(for the areas in which that applies).

Re:Good move... (1)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951475)

>>black boxes are designed to be removed, like removable hard drives. Just unplug it.

And because it will almost certainly be integrated into your car's engine management system your car will be reduced to being a fancy pushcart.

FYI, in all states that I'm aware which requre exhaust emissions tests, they require that the engine computer download it's cache of "check codes" and interacting "normally" with the test computer via the OBD (on board diagnostics) interface. Don't kjnow the format... Challenge/response? Simple handshake? who knows, but "failing to react properly" = "your car fails the test" = fix it soon or pay a fine.

Re:Good move... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951986)

I am not a mechanic, but I do know quite a few. I would guess the format is something like, 'send command, dump all trouble codes'. They want to see if the emmision systems have detected misfires, rich or lean mixture, etc. (all things that would trigger the check engine light)

The only other thing the OBD does is constantly send the data it's monitoring to whatever's plugged into it. This includes a lot more detail than you'd think. Nothing like lateral acceleration or steering wheel position as far as I know. Speed may be included, though it could probably be calculated from RPM and what gear is engaged at the time (both of which I know are included)

Re:Good move... (1)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951544)

But, as some people have found out, it can be subpoenaed by someone suing you and used against you in court.

Re:Good move... (1)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951461)

Then only outlaws will have cars without blackboxes, or something like that?

Re:Good move... (1)

teslar (706653) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951631)

Well, then I guess European imports in crates marked "spares" would become very popular :)

Re:Good move... (1)

taylork (91100) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951679)

All cars already have black boxes! "Black box" is a term to mean recorded data on any ECU like velocity during a crash, was seat belt on during a crash etc, not a physical box that just collects data and does nothing else.

Re:Good move... (1)

gsn (989808) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951845)

from TFA

The devices are virtually impossible to disable because their functioning is so tightly integrated with vehicle safety systems such as airbags and anti-lock brakes.


No I like this idea. I'm not too worried about your privacy because with the EDR the system is passive - it just records your driving information - a CCTV on the road would do the same. If I may herald a guess as to the future

We have cars that park themselves. [youtube.com]
Next innovation - monitor driving and in case of rash driving, disable driver control, have computer take over control of car and safely park car, disable engine and send out automatic alert identifying exactly where you are because your car now also comes with standard GPS. Same technology is great at preventing car thieves.

Eventually, just have a computer drive the car [slashdot.org] because again its safer for every involved. I remember seeing an article recently about how a computer could control a car at high speeds much better than any human can. If you love driving my favored compromise is you get to control the car below the speed limit with the system passively monitoring and ready to intervene should it sense a threat and have the computer control it above the speed limit when its safe to speed. You could even have wireless between cars to transmit data on traffic and road conditions ahead.

I like all of the above because they could drastically reduce the number of accidents and make car insurance completely uneeded.

All of the above tech is passive and only interfere when you are driving recklessly. So yes driving becomes less thrilling for you with the flip side of you and I are more safe. Systems like this and the fact that computers have system logs and cell phones have usage records could potentially deal with poster rkcallaghan's point about the shortcomings of EDR.

Nothing is foolproof and you could I suppose build your own car from scratch to circumvent this system. You'd still probably have a few accidents because someone ran/biked in front of a very fast moving car and the elctronics worked but simply couldn't beat the vehicles inertia. Better than nothing though.

A Better System (3, Interesting)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951397)

What also needs to happen, in addition to informing the buyer of the existence of such a recording device in a car, is to have the buyer decide whether or not such a device should be disabled/removed before purchase at no extra cost or liability to the buyer.

There is always a cost.... (3, Insightful)

tempest69 (572798) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951605)

The rub is this... Insurance. If they feel that having the real information lets them know the actual cause of an accident, and you dont bother to have one running. your rates are going to be going up. If your not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to fear.. So the process simply adds cost on the insurance side of things.

I'm not a big fan of this level of privacy invasion but their is too much precident for privacy crushing actions that this will likley be mandatory in the near future(7-21 years out), as the added price will be negligible.

Storm

Re:There is always a cost.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951624)

Interesting that some will take this as "a tool I can use to prove my innocence in the accident" and others as "a tool that will prove my guilt

Re:There is always a cost.... (5, Insightful)

imemyself (757318) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951678)

Why should anyone ever have to prove their innocence?

Re:There is always a cost.... (3, Informative)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951908)

Have you ever challenged a traffic ticket in court? Did they require the state to prove their case? How else would you get out of the ticket?

Re:A Better System (0)

OmniBeing (838591) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951676)

I tried that approach with ABS on my 2006 Fusion. The dealer refused to disable it, said I had to get it done after sale by a non-dealership mechanic, which would probably affect my warranty.

Realistically, I don't think having the black box disabled will be an option, especially if it's a government mandated "feature" and not an industry pr "feature"

Changes nothing ... (2, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951400)

This changes nothing. Try to get car insurance without agreeing to give your insurance company access on demand.

Renters? (1)

binarybum (468664) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951404)

Anyone know if this information will be required to be disclosed to vehicle renters?

Re:Renters? (2, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951465)

Anyone know if this information will be required to be disclosed to vehicle renters?

The presence of the recorder will be disclosed in the fine print you don't read. Duh. :-)

The "telemetry" of your drive will be disclosed to the rental car company (the car's owner - seems fair) in preparation for computing you bill.

Re:Renters? (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951776)

As we all now that car rental companies have used GPS to fine renters of speeding.

This happened in Hawaii as well as I was down there in 2001 and had to acknowledge that I would get fined if I sped.
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2001-07-03-car-t racking.htm [usatoday.com]

http://www.newmassmedia.com/nac.phtml?code=new&db= nac_fea&ref=16435 [newmassmedia.com]

another new law (5, Interesting)

Balthisar (649688) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951405)

Do we ALSO need a law to indicate that it's illegal to remove my own property from the car and then destroy that property if I'm in an accident? Imagining that it's my fault, that is. It's not evidence of a crime, unless I intentionally caused the accident.

Are police just entitled to come along and remove it from my car without my permission now? Do they have to ask?

Re:another new law (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951563)

You can remove the blackbox from your car and destroy it. It's your property. Just as you can remove your taillights and turn signals. Whether or not you can legally *drive* the vehicle after having removed those items is another story.

Re:another new law (1)

OmniBeing (838591) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951695)

You can, if you want to drive with hand signals and during the day time. Hand signals are perfectly legal, I also rear ended a guy who stopped and was making a right hand turn, took me a second to realize that his lights weren't working.

Re:another new law (1)

jchernia (590097) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951616)

Whether or not you or the other party intended to cause the accident, a crime has occured (most likely a misdemeanor like speeding, or failure to yield). Your black box could be evidence of *their* crime as much as yours. Since this is exactly the reason you want to destroy the black box, most likely there is already a law that you must not destroy it (ie destruction of evidence/obstruction of justice).

Re:another new law (2, Insightful)

abscondment (672321) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951638)

If the data in your black box are important, the police will obtain them without your permission in the same way they would obtain the car itself: a search warrant.

Just because it's "yours" doesn't preclude their obtaining access to it. The data may considered evidence relating to a crime; an accident will involve some form of citation for breaking an obscure traffic law, even if fault is not readily apparent. The data in your box could be considered pertinent, even though the argument for their pertinence appears weak. If you're under investigation for something like vehicular homicide, the police will obtain access to your car and its contents, including the box in question.

You're always safer if no record is made than if the record exists but is "protected".

Re:another new law (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951775)

And that's why, immediately after purchase of the vehicle, a clip lead should be briefly applied between the black box and the ignition coil.

Not "intent" but recklessness/negligence (2, Informative)

BearRanger (945122) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951855)

To all of the /.ers who want to just remove the EDR. It's an integral part of the engine management computer. You can't remove it and have the car continue to function. I predict a future aftermarket business for replacement management computers without the data recording aspects.

But the answer to your question is no. A new law isn't needed.

The thing you have to realize is that there are very few "accidents" in traffic situations. There's a reason the police refer to them as "collisions" and not accidents--because usually someone has done/failed to do something that causes it. That usually involves recklessness or negligence on the part of the driver. Those actions ARE crimes, whether or not there was a specific intent to commit a crime. In my area the police are trained to immediately download the information from the EDR at the accident scene. No driver permission required, because it's part of the investigation of the cause of the collision. Police accident investigators have a handheld device that plugs into a port in the vehicle that downloads the data from the EDR for later analysis.

By the way, vehicles that are equipped with GPS services such as OnStar automatically call authorities in the event of a collision. Do you really believe that they couldn't also upload the EDR contents at the same time? I'm not saying they *do* that, but it's not inconceivable.

I understand why regs take so long, usually. (2, Insightful)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951415)

After all, the life cycle of a car, beginning with design, is just plain long. They can't just mandate that beginning tomorrow, every car made will have 'future technology 1' embedded. Fine, that makes sense.

But if this is just about notifying buyers, it should be immediate. There's no need to give GM five years to get out a dealer bulletin and some stickers for the owners manuals.

Re:I understand why regs take so long, usually. (1)

gral (697468) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951446)

I agree. This was my first thought about this as well. 2011 that is just insane. How about January 2007? It gives them ~6 months. I would hope the car manufactures have better comunication in case of a recall or something.

1972 Dodge Charger (-1, Flamebait)

GMontag (42283) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951424)

Wondering if my 1972 Dodge Rallye Charger has one of these black boxes in it? I did not even know it was a hybrid until a reporter from The New Republic said it was*!

Awaiting my letter from Big Brother.

*See .sig

Attorneys everywhere rejoice!! (5, Interesting)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951429)

I was telling an attorney friend about EDR's and his response was "really? I suppose that means I can subpoena that information and admit it for evidence. Unless it's ruled self-incrimination..." We spent about an hour discussing and it brought up a whole bunch of interesting questions: Is the information on this machine considered part of a persons "papers or effects" or is all information now property of the government court to be surrendered on demand? Is destroying this device considered tampering with evidence... do I have a right to smash up my own car (computer, books, diary, etc.)? If not, I think this intrudes on my property rights. Where does the court's right to information about me end and my rights to my own property and information begin? Is it safe to say "none of your damned business" any more?

Re:Attorneys everywhere rejoice!! (2, Insightful)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951554)

I'm curioust what your attorney friend thought. Here's my take:

Is the information on this machine considered part of a persons "papers or effects"

Yes, just the same as, say, a bundle of files in your back seat. Subject to the warrant requirement.

is all information now property of the government court to be surrendered on demand?

Of course not.

Is destroying this device considered tampering with evidence...

It could be, if you have reason to know that it is probably evidence.

do I have a right to smash up my own car (computer, books, diary, etc.)?

Yes, unless of course you are doing it deliberately to destroy evidence. Much in the same way that you can shred all your personal files every day, until you are notified that you are being sued and those documents will be discoverable.

Where does the court's right to information about me end and my rights to my own property and information begin?

It begins and ends with probable cause, and almost always, a warrant.

Is it safe to say "none of your damned business" any more?

Yes, unless there is a warrant or a subpoena for that information. You may want to be more polite about it, though.

Re:Attorneys everywhere rejoice!! (2, Informative)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951648)

The Fifth Amendment to the American Constitution prohibits a government actor from compelling a person to make self-incriminating statements. Papers and other writings previously authored by a criminal defendant do not constitute such a statement, though it may be self-incriminating. In a recent case, the NY Court of Appeals ruled that tattoos of a criminal defendant can be admitted against him over his objection to prove he subscribed to white supremacist beliefs because such evidence was not a protected statement.

To answer the second question, namely, whether destroying the device violates the law. In short, it depends. Destruction motivated by a desire to hinder justice is illegal. If the car was involved in an accident, or there was another reason to believe that the device in the car would be important in a civil matter, destruction of that device would lead to sanctions. Civil liberties sell great here on Slashdot, but imagine if your child or family member was hit and injured by a guy who was street racing. The prosecution needs to prove speeding or reckless driving to convict the defendant on the most serious charges. Would you say that getting data from a device in that case would be wrong? In this particular case, the argument "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" flies pretty well because the information on the device could exculpate the defendant as well.

Re:Rhetorical Questions At Best (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951675)

Is the information on this machine considered part of a persons "papers or effects" or is all information now property of the government court to be surrendered on demand?

It won't ever belong to you. "Your honor this person is tampering with the car's safety system." Pretty much says it all.

do I have a right to smash up my own car
Yes, but don't fsck with the black box. Kind of like people rewinding odometers, it will be forbidden.

You are lucky to have such thought provoking friends, but I'm afraid the individual has no standing.

Re:Attorneys everywhere rejoice!! (1)

theycallmeB (606963) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951747)

Your rights to your property, and any information it contains, are at least severly compromised when your property becomes physically entangled with someone else's property as in an accident. It that case 'none of your business' no longer applies because your business and theirs have become one.

At present these devices are not required, and you may be able to remove the EDR BEFORE an accident if you so choose, depending on how the manufacterer integrated it into the vehicle. Removing or destroying the EDR AFTER an accident would almost certainly, and definitely should be, be treated as evidence tampering and might be admissiable as an evidence of guilt in a civil case against you. Before an accident, the EDR is just an electronic device that remembers a few seconds of information, afterwards it is evidentiary recording of the accident.

In case of an accident, yes, the police/courts certainly could demand access via subpeona as part of the trial or investigation and should receive said access. That is what due process is about. Whether access could be obtained as part of say a reckless or drunken driving case where there was no accident is less clear and is a legitimate worry. Of course a short, simple law could clear this up while preserving the use of EDRs for accident investigations. Further, as I understand it, most EDRs only retain a few seconds of information before and after airbag deployment and thus is useless outside of an accident investigation.

Finally, and this is general comment not in response to the previous post, I think too many people go too far in asserting their 'right' to drive. Operating a motor vehicle is not a right granted by the Constitution or any deity that I am aware of. It is a privilege granted by the government, and one easily given with few limits. And given the number of clearly stupid and dangerous driving behaviors I have seen, it is also a privilege that needs to be rescinded a little more frequently. Just think of what that could do for traffic congestion in Chicago alone...

Re:Attorneys everywhere rejoice!! (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951873)

Is it safe to say "none of your damned business" any more?

The short answer is "No". If you try to say that to an officer of the law, the presumption is that you have something to hide. And that presumption is often correct, but the further presumption is that what you are trying to hide would incriminate you in some way. And that presumption is usually automatic in law enforcement, who feel entitled to know everything about us whether we want them to or not. All of us (and I mean, ALL OF US) have something to hide, whether it be criminal or merely something unpleasant that we would rather other people didn't know. Civilization functions because we don't know everything about each other! It's time the government understood that by eroding privacy as they are doing, they are simultaneously damaging a core aspect of civilized society: the right to tell anybody, even the government (maybe especially the government) to just fuck off and leave us the hell alone. If we lose that right, we pretty much lose it all.

In other news... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951437)

Bush vows to end America's dependence on foreign oil by 4922.

Typo (1)

unr_stuart (883885) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951450)

Or is the NHTSA a newly hated acronym. National Highway Traffic Safety Asministration

Freudian slip? (0, Redundant)

grammar fascist (239789) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951456)

As a follow-up to this long ago posting, the National Highway Traffic Safety Asministration has passed a resolution...

Somebody almost made a Freudian slip.

Who? (0, Redundant)

shoma-san (739914) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951528)

I didn't know there was a National Highway Traffic Safety Asministration...

Useless and unreliable (1, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951558)

As we all know, "black boxes" used in planes are pretty useless because they often fail at key times, failing to record any useful information. Or, at least, that's what the 9/11 Commission would like you to believe...

Re:Useless and unreliable (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951622)

Here's a nickel, buy yourself a new sheet of tin foil.

Re:Useless and unreliable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951874)

Key times like being flown into a building and shattered into a zillion pieces before experiencing a building collapse, or high-angle impacts with the ground? Sure, they're meant to survive alot, but plenty of black boxes suffer damage and either fail entirely or have intermittent recordings for *ordinary* air crashes. The FAA requires two "black boxes" -- the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder. It isn't unusual for one to survive while the other does not. For example, at a recent cargo 747 crash in Halifax, Nova Scotia [canoe.ca] the flight data recorder survived, while the cockpit voice recorder did not have any retrievable data -- and that was a much lower-speed crash occurring at takeoff. Another example is Swissair flight 111 [wikipedia.org] , which crashed off the coast of Nova Scotia -- though both recorders survived, they didn't record anything in the last 6 minutes before the crash. Some types of recorders have a continuous loop and record only 30 minutes -- important data leading up to the crash can be overwritten subsequently.

While getting data off recorders depends upon the exact circumstances of the crash and the type of recorder, they clearly aren't indestructable or without data loss incidents. Furthermore, when damaged, intermittent information recording is not unusual, again depending upon the design and crash circumstances.

You need to use a thicker brand of tin foil. Alternatively, you could read a little more widely than the nonsense that is written at conspiracy sites, unless you are suggesting transportation safety institutions around the world have been conspiring for years about the survivability of flight recorders.

Makes me glad... (1)

abscondment (672321) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951565)

The fact that this is a problem people have to deal with makes me glad I bike to work.

Of course, I'm also glad that the car my wife and I own is from 1990. We're considering getting a newer car, but only for safety reasons (airbags). As with many software manufacturers, car companies hope their customers will feel compelled to buy a new model every few years. They also don't give much tangible reason to upgrade: my 16-year-old car still gets an average 28mpg.

With the potential privacy concerns, obvious expenses, and lack of ostensible improvement over older cars, I don't understand why anyone is buying new.

Re:Makes me glad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951762)

Ostensible, adj: Represented or appearing as such (usually with a connotation that their is doubt as to the accuracy of said representation)

So you say the car manufacturer's aren't making enough over the top claims about the benefits of their new cars? And unless they start flagrantly overdoing their advertisements, you won't buy new?

Re:Makes me glad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951922)

"their" should be "there", before anyone calls me on a typo.

Re:Makes me glad... (1)

himurabattousai (985656) | more than 7 years ago | (#15952027)

With the potential privacy concerns, obvious expenses, and lack of ostensible improvement over older cars, I don't understand why anyone is buying new.

Don't forget that when buying a suitably used car, it's often possible to avoid taking out a loan, meaning the car is fully and outright owned immediately. The kind of jury-rigging it takes to disable air-bags, ABS, and now ECR boxes certainly isn't looked kindly upon by lending institutions or dealers, both of which have an interest in maintaining the vehicle's "intact" condition, as this leads to more money at auction/resale time.

Car dealers use error codes to void warranties (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15951574)

over rev your engine and the computer rats on you.

Everyone is watching everything! (1)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951595)

Well this is crazy! I'm about ready to leave it all behind. I'm going to jump in my car and drive away and no one will be able to find me. Oh.. wait. Damn you technology!

Mmm, love the nanny state. (-1, Troll)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951718)

Thank you ralph nader.

Just one more piece of paper to sign (3, Insightful)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951720)

Notification laws aren't that useful. California has one that requires businesses to post warnings of "hazardous substances". Problem is, damned near everything is a hazardous substance under this law. Consequently, every business has one of these placards and nobody pays any attention because if we did, we'd never be able to buy anything. This notification will just end up as another piece of paper in the mound that nobody ever reads and that we sign whenever we buy a car. I suppose it will have the benefit of letting the seller say, "We told you about this" when some dope comes back a few years later, upset that his black box recording ratted him out as going 100 mph just before the crash.

RTFM (1)

Doytch (950946) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951731)

Not sure if it's the same in the US, but this info is already disclosed in Canada(and I assume in other places), in the car's manual. Has anyone actually read their manual to check if they were actually informed of it before saying how violated they feel?

Smash it (1)

kg4mxz (880882) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951785)

If you don't want the information exposed if you are at fault, just smash the self incriminating evidence. They can't use it against you if its in 500 different pieces.

GM SDM Module (1)

Caesious (934790) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951896)

You could probably disable this by removing the CAN / ODB communication wires connected to the recording device. The problem is that GM is incorporated their black box into the air bag SDM module.

Tampering with that module my not be the brightest idea.

I know that Toyota sends information on their communication bus to the air bag module. For example there are occupancy sensors in the seats. Why fire the airbag for the passenger if there isn't a passenger?

So, again, disabling the communication lines to that module may be a bad thing.

But wait (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951901)

Okay, I'm no expert, but I do know a little something about automotive control systems, and my understanding is that part of OBD-II is that vehicles record at least 30 seconds prior to and after any event that bears reporting; this is called snapshot data. In most systems, only one snapshot can be stored, and there are IIRC four levels of criticality; snapshot data is overwritten when a more critical message must be logged. At that point, the last 30 seconds of data is written from RAM and, if processing continues, the next 30 seconds are recorded. One of the things that can trigger this event is if the airbag computer indicates that the airbag has deployed.

Mind you, this is on 1996 and newer vehicles - and some vehicles went OBD-II before the deadline. I believe (just as an example) that the 1995 Nissan 240SX is among them.

self-incrim. isn't just anything u don't want seen (1)

supernova87a (532540) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951912)

A lot of people think that somehow a recording black box producing evidence against you is "self-incrimination" (in case it was your fault in an accident), because the black box belongs to you and is your property. But this completely misunderstands what self-incrimination means.

Self-incrimination is forcing someone to orally testify against him or herself in questioning or trial -- a compelled confession for example, which in our early (colonial, for example) jurisprudence was unfortunately not a foreign concept, and is understood to be highly dubious by any informed jurist. It is limited to that specific act -- testifying against yourself.

For some reason, people think it applies to any act on their part that could demonstrate that guilt, or by extension even evidence produced by something in his/her possession or by someone of his/her acquaintance. That's simply not the case, and an awful reach.

As the caselaw says: a person is immune from having to provide evidence against him/herself. But that does not mean he/she is immune from having that evidence produced [by some other way]...

Consider the license agreement? (1)

spagetti_code (773137) | more than 7 years ago | (#15951930)

Consider the license issues and privacy issues with this software.
You dont own it, you have a right to use that can be removed,
they can look at what you are doing, yada yada yada...

I would bet that you wont own your car for much longer - the
Licence agreement around this data and these computer systems
will soon go the way of the software agreements that we put up with.

The good news is that perhaps one day we may see a GPL car.
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