You may not know about it, but it's there.
If you've bought a new car recently, it's likely equipped with an event data recorder — a kind of "black box" for your car — that records just about everything about your vehicle use, including how fast you drive, where you go, and even how many people are with you.
It's highly personal information that you wouldn't want in the wrong hands, said Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-4 of Washington Township), who recently proposed legislation to regulate who can access that data and how.
"I think we should get ahead of the technology, instead of letting the technology get ahead of us," said Moriarty, who chairs the Assembly's Consumer Affairs Committee. The committee unanimously approved the bill (A3579) on Oct. 2, and the Senate version currently sits in the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
"Everything is contained in these black boxes, and I think we should have a law, before this gets abused, to say who owns that information and who has access to it," said Moriarty.
The bill would ensure that the data recorded by the boxes, also known as electronic control modules, would remain the property of the vehicle's owner, and that no one could retrieve or distribute that information without going through the court system.
Specifically, it outlines that the recorded data, just like a personal computer's data, can be retrieved by law enforcement through a search warrant or subpoena, or by a representative of the owner. The bill also allows the data to be used to improve motor vehicle safety — the original intent of the modules when they were first introduced by manufacturers — or retrieved by a licensed motor vehicle dealer, repair or servicing facility.
The data can also be accessed and used by a subscription service provider, such as OnStar, if the provider's agreement outlines the possible usage and storage of the data. The bill doesn't cover personal recording devices, but does say data on those devices can be accessed to determine the "need for facilitating an emergency medical response" after a crash.
It also protects the data, which can be crucial in determining the cause of a serious motor vehicle crash, from being deleted or altered for two years following a crash, with a violation resulting in a fine of $5,000.
"I think this bill takes into account all of those different types of considerations and puts some parameters under who has access and under which circumstances," said Moriarty.
It's no surprise the state's American Civil Liberties Union backs the bill.
Ari Rosmarin, the NJ ACLU's public policy director, said they supported the bill in committee and see it as another step forward in protecting privacy rights for the state's residents.
"Our interest in the bill is really the same interest that we have in protecting the privacy rights of New Jerseyans in a whole array of areas. Just like we believe that law enforcement should need a warrant to get information from a computer or a mobile phone, so too should there be privacy protections for computers you own in your own car," said Rosmarin.
Their central concern remains uses of the data when it comes to law enforcement, but Rosmarin said it's clear that kind of information about where people travel and how they get there can carry a high price tag to marketers.
"I think that we're finding all over the place that data about our movements and activities is extremely valuable to a whole host of both government and private entities," said Rosmarin, adding regulating this data now, as technology advances quickly, is essential to protecting consumers' privacy.
"We don't want to end up in a place where anything we buy that has a chip in it, the information from that chip belongs to someone other than ourselves," he said. "When we buy a car we are not consenting to an external third party collecting information on us on a daily basis. As technology that collects more and more information about our daily habits and movements proliferates, our privacy laws must keep pace with that and not fall behind."
http://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/ind ... _data.html