Monday, March 19, 2012

Originally posted 05/24/2011 on lubbockonline.com

Rebecca Boyle at Popsci.com reports that the federal government will announce next month that all cars must have a black box. Yes, a black box like airplanes carry.

Rebecca tells us that a lot of cars already do, but there is no standard for how they work, what they record, or how to access it. That may be a good thing, since even now they record more than we probably realize. According to the article:

General Motors can find out plenty of information about your driving habits, as Autopia explains, like whether you used your turn signal and whether you buckled your seat belt. GM can use this information to build better safety systems, but it can conceivably be used by insurance companies, too, when determining how to pay claims or assign fault. Or it could be used by legal authorities to prove guilt or negligence.

I'm not really sure what I think about this. Most of the objections I have are already applicable to cell phones. Speaking of cell phones, she also points out that in the future the black box may record if you were distracted by your cell phone right before an accident. I don't know why she assumes that is a future development, especially if you have a car with bluetooth for connecting to your cell phone.

The one concern I have for this the potential for tracking abuse. We already have agencies trying to put trackers on cars without a warrant. How much harder would it be to protect us from unwarranted tracking if the ability was built into the car? Who knows what kind of tracking is already being done on cars with Onstar and similar systems?