Driving Big Brother

Wired News reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration plans to release new rules for controversial car black boxes this summer:

Contrary to expectations, the rules don’t require automakers to install the boxes in every car, but they do require the boxes to record a minimum of 29 pieces of data, more than most black boxes currently record.In a nod to privacy concerns, the rules require automakers to disclose in the owner’s manual when a car has a black box and why it’s there. But privacy advocates say they’re disappointed that the rules don’t limit the amount of data the boxes can record or address concerns about how recorded data can be collected or used.

The article also mentions a troubling court ruling regarding the expectations of privacy with data gathered through such devices:

In New York this year, a defense attorney challenged the admissibility of information gleaned after police removed data from a defendant’s black box before obtaining a search warrant.A judge ruled, however, that the seizure was legal and that the driver had no reasonable expectation of privacy since he’d been on a public highway and exposed his driving behavior to anyone watching.

The judge’s logic violates the contextual integrity of the flow of personal information in the context of highway travel. Read more about the right of “privacy in public” and how the introduction of new vehicle technology might violate that right in my paper “Privacy and the Design of Vehicle Safety Communication Technologies

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