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Right to Privacy is a Public Matter

Posted on Apr 03, 2015

Be aware. That’s a motto that we as riders are told to live by. Be aware of your surroundings. Be aware of the car that looks right through you, of oil on the road or gravel in a corner. Be aware of what your machine is saying, that everything’s running right and “all systems are go.” Be aware of ourselves, are we compromised? Did we sleep enough? Can we push through ten more miles on reserve?

There’s another type of awareness that affects us just as much as an empty gas tank or slick corner, an awareness of what’s affecting our rights as riders.  In an age where the concept of privacy is becoming increasingly more obscure, it’s not shocking to find the fingers of technological development creeping further into consumer privacy. As riders (of all types), it’s our responsibility to stay up to date on these developments, and whenever possible, get involved.

Most of us are familiar with the concept of a “black box” in vehicles. Event Data Recorders (EDRs) can be found in airplanes and up to 85 percent of cars produced today and, according to the AMA are likely to be installed in motorcycles of the future. In passenger vehicles black boxes can record a wide variety of data points such as speed, braking, light usage, turning speed and seatbelt usage within seconds of a collision. On March 17, U.S. Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced S. 766, the Driver Privacy Act, to clarify who owns this data. The bill would limit of data from vehicle EDRs, and would enact that any data retained by the EDR was exclusively the property of the owner or lessee of the vehicle.

Ownership of this valuable information is a crucial detail to solidify.  As Senator Hoeven says:

“There are more than 45 different data points that are in fact recorded right now... The manufacturer can change this – add to it. There are no limitations or restrictions or guidelines or requirements on what manufacturers can have the event data recorders do.”

It’s important to support the bill that establishes who owns this large amount of personal driving (or riding) data. Without clarification, the government, your insurer, or even marketing companies could have access to this data without your permission. According to a report on March 25th, this bill currently has a 39 percent chance of being enacted.

If you feel it’s important to maintain the right to privacy in relation to these and future EDRs, contact your United States Senators in support of this bill. A prewritten email format can be found here at the AMA website, and future progress can be tracked at www.govtrack.us, or the direct link provided.

 

Written by: Melissa Juranitch