Black Boxes in Cars
The Senate has recently passed legislation requiring new cars to have black boxes in them that would record everything, much like and airplane. These black boxes are officially known as event data recorders (ERD). The mandate would only begin with passenger cars starting in 2015. It’ just a bill for now, but it is expected to make it through the House as well.
Before you get too overworked about black boxes and invasion of privacy, you should consider a few things first. There is a good possibility you are already driving a car with an ERD. Many auto manufacturers have been installing these black boxes in their vehicles for several years. For instance, General Motors has been using OnStar in their vehicles for a few years now. This is one such example of an ERD. Or in 2009, Toyota was cleared of its acceleration pedal issues because of data from ERDs in their vehicles. Many companies have been using black boxes in their commercial fleets to ensure that their drivers are being safe on the road.
It is also important to look at the actual legislation of the bill. It states that any of the information recorded on the ERD is property of the driver. The only time this information could be accessed by anyone else would be in the instance of an accident with a medical emergency or for legal reasons. In both of these instances, the ERD could be extremely useful and not really an invasion of privacy.
In the instance of a bad accident, the ERD could be viewed to show that the driver was doing everything possible to prevent a crash. It could show that they were not speeding and that they applied the brakes appropriately. Or in a legal issue, the information recorded on the black box could possibly clear you for what occurred. Of course, it could work the opposite way as well. This ERD could incriminate you and cause you to be a fault for something that would normally be left an unknown.
To many people, they may view this as George Orwell’s 1984 coming to fruition. This is just another example of our government turning into “Big Brother” in order to watch every move we make. Once this bill is signed into law, they would be able to monitor how people are driving. This is maybe just another infringement on peoples’ rights and freedoms, much like the Patriot Act or other legislation that gives the government more power over the people.
However, if this bill is only meant to be used for safety issues, it is definitely useful. If it is meant to be used to spy on people under the guise of “safety,” than it is terrible. If the black boxes are only accessed for legal and medical reasons, than people have nothing to worry about, especially if they are following the laws. It’s not that we need to be worried about these things occurring, but we simply need to be aware of them.