Black box privacy bill now law in California

| Wednesday, September 24, 2003

The information in your black box is now your private property in California.

Monday, Sept. 22, Gov. Gray Davis signed AB213, a bill that would prevent anyone besides a truck diver from using the information in a truck’s onboard data recorders from using the information without the trucker’s permission.

The devices, called event data recorders or sensing and diagnostic modules – more commonly known as EDRs or SDMs – are common in modern trucks and many makes and models of automobiles. Typically, the devices store only a few seconds of information, usually a few seconds before and after an accident. That information can include speed, use of brakes, steering wheel position and other engine an operational statistics.

Under AB213, the information contained in the EDRs cannot be downloaded unless there is a court order demanding it; the owner of the vehicle gives his or her consent; or it is used for “safety purposes,” but not associated with the driver’s name. In addition, the bill would prohibit whoever received the information from sharing with anyone else.

The bill was targeted at EDRs in cars, but the bill applies to all “motor vehicles,” including big trucks.

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