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Vehicle Data Recorders Might Tread On Privacy Rights

A new proposal is going through Congress that could require all cars sold by Sept. 1, 2014 to have electronic data recorders.

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Photo: Joe Gratz (Flickr)

Nehf says the data can also be obtained through a court order in many cases, even in states that have privacy laws in place regarding the devices.

A new proposal is going through Congress that could require all cars sold by Sept. 1, 2014 to have electronic data recorders.

Many recorders, or black boxes, are already used in many vehicles but some say they are a violation of privacy rights. James Nehf, Professor of Law at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law, says they are not, but privacy issues do arise when it comes to who has access to the data that‘s recorded.

He says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes the device belongs to the owner of the vehicle and cannot be accessed by anyone without the owner‘s permission.

Nehf says issues can also arise with insurance companies requiring car owners in their insurance policies to give them access to the data, if needed.

“Or they‘ll have a provision in the policy that says, ‘Before we‘re going to pay a claim, you agree to give us access to the recording device,’ so they essentially get you to waive your privacy rights in advance and a lot of people don‘t even realize that,” Nehf says.

He says the data can also be obtained through a court order in many cases, even in states that have privacy laws in place regarding the devices.

Nehf adds the issue of data integrity can also come up. He says once the data is accessed, there is the possibility of data manipulation which would make it difficult for a driver to contest an accident claim.

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