Oct 22 2013
Bill Ensures Personal Privacy of Automobile Data Recorder Information
FARGO, N.D. – Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) today rolled out their Driver Privacy Act. The legislation guards a driver’s personal privacy by making it clear that the owner of a vehicle is also the owner of any information collected by an Event Data Recorder (EDR).
An EDR has the ability to continuously collect at least 45 pieces of information about a vehicle’s operation in a loop lasting several seconds that can be retrieved at any time. This includes direction, speed, seatbelt usage and other data. The senators’ legislation would ensure that the vehicle owner controls the data to protect personal privacy.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that more than 96 percent of new 2013 car models are currently equipped with an EDR, but late last year, the agency proposed rules that would mandate the installation of EDRs in all light-duty vehicles. Further there is no limitation on what additional personal information could be tracked or recorded, an individual’s location or travel habits without consent. The proposal raised widespread questions and concerns regarding the ownership of the data, which prompted Senators Hoeven and Klobuchar to craft legislation that would protect drivers anywhere in the United States.
In fact, 14 states, including North Dakota, have passed laws to protect the privacy of drivers. States with laws protecting drivers include Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Washington. North Dakota passed an EDR privacy statue in 2005, while Senator Hoeven was governor.
These state laws, however, apply only in the states that have them; drivers are unprotected in states that do not. To address privacy concerns regarding the device, the Hoeven-Klobuchar legislation specifies that data from an EDR may not be retrieved in any state unless:
- Authorized by a court of law
- The vehicle owner or lessee consents to the data retrieval
- The information is retrieved pursuant to a NHTSA recall and all personally identifiable information is not disclosed
- The information is retrieved in determining the need for emergency medical response following a motor vehicle crash (used in vehicles equipped with Advanced Automatic Crash Notification systems)
- The information is retrieved for traffic safety research
“In an increasingly data driven world, we need to be sure that whatever government does it respects the privacy of every individual,” Hoeven said. “EDRs can serve a useful function by helping to make cars and streets safer, but access to the data should be treated as personal except under very specific circumstances. Our bill makes clear what those circumstances are.”
“While technologies like EDRs have shown tremendous promise in improving safety on our roadways, we need to make sure that technological advancements don’t outpace privacy protections,” said Klobuchar. “This bipartisan bill makes clear that the vehicle owner is also the rightful owner of any data collected by an EDR, while still ensuring law enforcement has the tools they need to protect citizens.”