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U.S. bill makes ‘black box’ monitors mandatory in all new cars by 2015

Event Data Recorder

A bill currently making a swift path through Congress would give the federal government yet another way to keep tabs on U.S. Citizens: though our cars. As Paul Watson of InfoWars reports, Section 31406 of Senate bill 1813, known as “MAP-21,” would require all new vehicles to come pre-loaded with “mandatory event recorders,” or black boxes, which keep track of a wide variety of information about the vehicle and how it’s driven.

All information collected “or transmitted” by the “event recorders” remains the property of the car’s owner, according to the legislation. Though the bill does outline a number of different scenarios in which the data may be shared with the government or other third parties.

From the bill’s text:

(2) PRIVACY- Data recorded or transmitted by such a data recorder may not be retrieved by a person other than the owner or lessee of the motor vehicle in which the recorder is installed unless–

(A) a court authorizes retrieval of the information in furtherance of a legal proceeding;

(B) the owner or lessee consents to the retrieval of the information for any purpose, including the purpose of diagnosing, servicing, or repairing the motor vehicle;

(C) the information is retrieved pursuant to an investigation or inspection authorized under section 1131(a) or 30166 of title 49, United States Code, and the personally identifiable information of the owner, lessee, or driver of the vehicle and the vehicle identification number is not disclosed in connection with the retrieved information; or

(D) the information is retrieved for the purpose of determining the need for, or facilitating, emergency medical response in response to a motor vehicle crash.

Event data recorders (EDRs) are nothing new. In fact, many cars have them already. Both General Motors and Ford have already begun including EDRs in many of their newer vehicles. According to EDR proponents, the devices are not meant to spy on drivers; they are to keep everyone safer on the road.

“It is essential that decisions on important safety issues be supported by the best available data, and we are convinced that EDRs can help that process,” said Michael J. Robinson, Vice President of Environment, Energy and Safety Policy at GM, in a statement made lin 2010. “We agree with those who called for mandatory installation of and greater use of the data from EDRs during recent Congressional hearings.”

EDRs can record a vast array of data, with most of it collected in the moments just before, during, and after a collision. Types of information collected by EDRs include vehicle speed, engine speed, force of impact, airbag deployment, and whether or not seat belts were in use. In general, this information is used to determine whether or not the vehicle performed properly during an accident. According to the legislation, all mandatory EDRs must “capture and store data related to motor vehicle safety covering a reasonable time period before, during, and after a motor vehicle crash or airbag deployment, including a rollover.”

To find out whether or not your car includes an EDR already, click this link, and select the “Do You Have One?” option.

While it is completely understandable – even wise – to be skeptical of government-mandated use of technology, especially technology that records the things we do in our homes or cars, EDRs are not quite as nefarious as skeptics might want you to believe. In fact, a wealth of studies show that they really can help make hurtling yourself and your family down the road in a two-ton contraption at 65 MPH safer than it currently is. That said, there’s no telling exactly how this type of technology could be used in the future, especially if EDRs become a required component in our vehicles.

As for this bill becoming law – it looks likely. The Senate passed the legislation last month, and it is expected to breeze through the House soon.