Friday, May 04, 2007

Car Event Tracking

I've known for some time that many newer model vehicles include a form of "black box" monitoring device.

I've never really felt strongly one way or the other about my rules-based personality type tends to follow the Rules of the Road pretty closely, I generally don't stress that the police or insurance company would try to get their hands on it. And (God forbid) some unforeseen accident occurred and I was left unable to tell my story, I would take some comfort that maybe it might render some brief additional information to investigators and my family what happened in that brief and final second.

In a nice derivation from the standard computer security world topics, HTRegz at computer Defense shares an insightful post regarding vehicle "black-box" technology.

Your Car is Spying on You - Computer Defense blog

HTRegz was able to obtain an interview with a crash data recovery company and provides us some insights on how and what data can commonly be obtained.

The company, Harris Technical Services, had a some neat media resources as well on their website.

Of particular interest to me on that page (as a Saturn owner) was a crash data recorder graph that shows what data was recorded on a 2002 Saturn accident.

Unfortunately, in this case the driver was killed as her vehicle passed under the center of a semi-truck at speed during the nighttime collision. Photo link to the recovered vehicle at the bottom of this page.

As a post commenter pointed out, it does pose an interesting question. In the case of these devices, you do "own" them in the sense that if you purchased the vehicle, the component comes with it. However, access to the data is difficult (though not impossible) with the right tools and software. Most drivers/owners probably won't care or bother with trying to access that data. The end result is access to what you "own" isn't at all easy or simple.

Could it be foreseeable that an insurance company could void or cancel your policy if your vehicle came with such a device but you removed/disabled it? Or that at some point in the future, the courts could suspend your driver's license if you refused to surrender the device (post accident) to police they can do in the case of suspected DUI cases for drivers refusing to take a sobriety test?

No tinfoil-hat wearing here, just another interesting line to define with technology and "collected data ownership" rights.


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