North Dakota says vehicle owners also own black box data

| 7/6/2005

Big Brother might have his eye on passenger vehicles’ black box data, but a new law in North Dakota makes it harder for him to use that data against drivers.

The new law, previously SB2200, gives vehicle owners control over any data collected by their vehicles’ data recorders, often referred to as black boxes or electronic on-board recorders. This technology, which is increasingly common in newer vehicles, could include recording the vehicle’s speed, direction of travel, location, steering performance, braking performance, seat belt status and accident information.

“As technology advances so do the risks of intrusion into personal privacy,” said Gov. John Hoeven in a written statement. “This bill informs our consumers and puts in their hands the choice of who they want to share their private information with.”

It requires automobile dealers to disclose the presence of a recording device, declares that the information stored in such devices is the property of the vehicle owner and forbids insurance companies from requiring disclosure of the information as a condition of insurability. The information can only be accessed by consent of the owner or through a court order.

The effort won widespread support in the North Dakota House and Senate.

“These devices amount to spyware for our cars,” Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, the bill’s author said in a written statement. “We need to ensure that this technology is used for legitimate purposes such as improving safety, and not as a way for Big Brother to watch over us.”