With complete disregard for driver privacy, the Obama administration gave their consent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to mandate black box event data recorders (EDR) be installed in all new cars in the US.
The NHTSA says that by September 2014 all car and light trucks will be equipped with EDRs that will silently “record the actions of drivers and the responses of their vehicles in a continuous information loop.”
The information recorded by EDRs includes:
• vehicle speed • whether the brake was activated in the moments before a crash • crash forces at the moment of impact • information about the state of the engine throttle • air bag deployment timing and air bag readiness prior to the crash • whether the vehicle occupant’s seat belt was buckled
The NHTSA claims that “EDRs do not collect any personal identifying information or record conversations and do not run continuously.”
Advanced EDRs can collect detailed information about drivers and their driving habits; including the size and weight of the driver, the seat position, the habits of the driver as well as passengers.
The excuse is the EDRs gather information about car crashes in the moments leading up to the accident that manufacturers can use to improve their safety measures when constructing vehicles. However, the government regulation utilizes surveillance technology with policies that do not outline the expressed use of the data collected in the EDRs.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is opposed to the US Congress requiring EDRs in all vehicles by legislation. Although they admit that “event data recorders help our engineers understand how cars perform in the real world but looking forward, we need to make sure we preserve privacy. Automakers do not access EDR data without consumer permission, and any government requirements to install EDRs on all vehicles must include steps to protect consumer privacy.”
A statement published in March of 2012 by the AAM clearly explains that the NHTSA is not concerned about protecting the privacy of drivers with regard to EDRs and leaves such issues to the elected officials on Capitol Hill. By passing the buck the NHTSA then reiterates their support of EDRs for surveillance use to assist auto manufacturers in the construction of future vehicles.
EDR information has become common place as evidence in lawsuits, criminal cases and high-profile accidents.
The Congressional legislation would not allow for an opt-out option and federal regulations would demand that automakers give over the data recorded on the EDR to federal agencies at their discretion. In fact, the NHTSA admits that they cannot “impose limits as how the information can be used and other privacy protections.”
The CDR software has been installed in 2013 vehicle models of:
• Chrysler • Dodge • Fiat • Jeep • Ford • Lincoln • General Motors • Honda • Infiniti • Nissan
According to the bill: “Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall revise part 563 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to require, beginning with model year 2015, that new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with an event data recorder that meets the requirements under that part.”
The data recorder would be property of the owner of the car; however the government would have complete access to the data inside under specific circumstances such as court order. Failure to adhere to court orders or even having the EDR installed in a vehicle would result in civil penalties against American citizens. The Secretary of Transpiration would be charged with extracting the data through investigation or inspection.
In 2011, David Strickland of the NHTSA said that the US government was considering forcing this black box technology onto the car manufacturers and recall millions of Toyotas to refit them with these devices. This year, Strickland accurately predicted that the NHTSA would make a formal announcement about these black boxes and the mandates for installing them.