Reps. Capuano and Sensenbrenner File Legislation Giving Consumers More Control over Their Vehicle’s “Black Box”

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Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA) and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) filed the “Black Box Privacy Protection Act” to give vehicle owners more control over the information collected through their car or motorcycle’s “black box” event data recorder (EDR).
The legislation requires manufacturers to notify consumers if an event data recorder is installed in their vehicle, disclose the data collection capabilities of such a device, and provide information on how data collected may be used. The bill places ownership of the data in the hands of the vehicle owner and requires owner permission before the information can be accessed. The legislation also requires manufacturers to give consumers the option of controlling the recording function in future automobiles or motorcycles that are equipped with event data recorders.
“For me, this is a basic issue of privacy. Consumers should have control over the information collected by event data recorders in their own vehicles and they should be able to exercise control over the recording function,” stated Congressman Mike Capuano.
“As a strong advocate for privacy rights, I believe vehicle owners should have control over what information is collected by their vehicle’s “black box” and who has access to it,” stated Congressman Sensenbrenner.
Event data recorders, or “black boxes,” are installed in vehicles to collect information leading up to an accident. They record factors such as speed and brake application. Many consumers are not aware that this data has the potential of being used against them in civil or criminal proceedings, or by their insurer to increase rates. No federal law exists to clarify the rights of a vehicle owner with respect to this recorded data.
All data collected by an EDR becomes the property of the vehicle owner under this legislation. The bill would make it illegal for anyone other than the vehicle owner to download or retrieve information without owner consent or a court order. The legislation also requires that all new cars equipped with EDRs also have an option allowing the owner to control the recording function that cannot be restarted without the owner’s consent.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that is still pending requiring the installation of event data recorders in all cars manufactured after September 1, 2014, and that the existence of the EDR be included in the owner’s manual. The Black Box Privacy Protection Act would make the disclosure more prominent and give consumers even greater choice and privacy protections.

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