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Feds Want ‘Black Boxes’ in New Cars, But Who Will Be Tracking You?

ABC News – by Mark Greenblatt

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would like to make it mandatory for automakers to install a so-called “black box” in all new cars and light trucks.

The devices, also known as event data recorders, have long been used by investigators to discover the root cause of commercial airplane crashes. In recent years however, automakers have quietly begun installing similar products in more and more cars.

Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray of Massachusetts found out the hard way last year.

He crashed a car he was driving and told police that he was wearing a seatbelt and was not speeding at the time of the crash.

However the black box installed in his car revealed he was actually speeding at 75 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone, before accelerating to more than 100 miles per hour.

According to Scott Ferson, a spokesman for the lieutenant governor’s campaign, Murray believes he either fell asleep or hit black ice.

The lieutenant governor was not issued a ticket at the time of the accident. However, after police examined the vehicle’s black box they handed Murray a $555 ticket for speeding in excess of 100 miles per hour.

Ferson says that Murray did not dispute the findings of the black box investigation and elected to pay the fine in full. He also said the lieutenant governor reimbursed the state for the cost of the vehicle he crashed, which was government owned.

The data recorders track a number of items, including vehicle speed, whether a driver tried to step on the brakes before a crash, information about engine throttle, air bag readiness before a crash, and whether seat belts were buckled.

The NHTSA believes the data the black boxes could collect will save lives in the future by providing a broader picture of why and how crashes occur.

“A broader EDR requirement would ensure the agency has the safety-related information it needs to determine what factors may contribute to crashes across all vehicle manufacturers,” NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said.

Consumer and privacy advocates do not disagree there are many potential benefits from the devices, but insist that proper safeguards be put in place to prevent your car from turning into a spy of sorts for insurance companies that may want to raise your rates.

“There are important safety concerns here and they shouldn’t be ignored, but there are also pressing privacy concerns,” said Chris Calabrese of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Chiefly, who’s going to access this information and how long is it going to be collected? I’d make sure that the owner of the vehicle controls the data.”

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9 Responses to Feds Want ‘Black Boxes’ in New Cars, But Who Will Be Tracking You?

  1. CJ says:

    “The engine control computer in your car was mandated by federal law to ALWAYS maintain an open channel to the cell phone network in all makes and models of vehicles sold in America after 2004. Onstar equipped vehicles had it a lot sooner. The purpose for having this cell connection mandated in all cars sold during and after 2005 was to make it possible to listen to everything said in a car. And you can’t get rid of it, because the engine control computer is needed to make the car run. Two way communication would be possible in all of these cars if you were allowed to use that cell connection for your own purposes. But it is not there for you.

    This is something I have known about for years, and I have advised my friends into the best possible (now older) cars that do not have this feature.

    And there is a far more sinister side to this. It is possible to use that cell connection to reprogram the engine computer in any of these cars, and there is no safeguard in place to prevent cars from being reprogrammed to accept remote driving commands. It is being hypothesized now that it has become an assassination weapon, where air bags are set off to disorient or knock out the driver (and subsequently eliminate their protective ability), disable the brakes and steering, and floor the accelerator until the car crashes. A majority of cars nowadays are at least partially drive by wire, there is no mechanical linkage for many of the driving commands.”

  2. Steve in Iowa says:

    I bought a 2011 Jeep Wrangler and it has an EDR in it somewhere. It makes me wonder, if all the cars sold in the US have these installed, how long before it’s law that the data is downloaded as part of the registration renewal? As far as the NHTSA is concerned, they can f*ck right the hell off. Hasn’t anyone ever heard of “shit happens”? People die in the weirdest ways. More than 400 die every year from falling out of bed. More than 3% of the deaths worldwide are caused by diarrhea. People driving cars have crashes, it happens, get over it already. My life is complicated enough by BB and it’s about time they leave us to our devises. Safe or not, I’d rather die having fun with the wind blowing through my hair than by being kept “safe”by some asshole bureaucrat.

  3. US Marine Fighting Tyranny says:

    My Fellow Americans:

    “Safety”,… has NOTHING to do with why they are putting these Blackboxes into your cars/trucks, especially with eavesdropping capabilty.

    Who is using this info?

    Well,.. the list of gov’t agencies that is NOT using it is FAR shorter!

    The list of gov’t agencies NOT using any of the spying information your car sends to the cell towers:

    – ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) – Thats it*.

    *We’re not even sure about that.

    JD – US Marines

  4. ToM says:

    The black boxes are not about keeping us safe, it’s about controlling the data.

    When the seat belts fail, the brakes malfunction…you really think a criminal organization like the Ford Motor Company is going to allow that info in a court of law? The black box in airplanes work the same way. The FAA is a branch of the criminal government, sent out to make sure the evidence is erased and the actual cause is misdirected.

    Example: Flight 800
    Senator Wellington
    JFK Jr.
    WTC 911

    Each one of these incidents were covered up by our FAA…

    as for our criminal company, the Ford Motor Company….
    Ford furnished the vehicles for NKorea, NVietnam and Germany during WWII…this same company that killed American soldiers with their war effort of providing the enemy with supplies…is going to allow a black box in the vehicle to record their liability and negligence?

    The Red Cross, a Rothschild brainchild…goes in first to a war torn area and cleans up what needs to be cleaned up…removing and destroying evidence of wrong doing.

    And f^ck the ACLU…that planned opposition organization is useless. Where are they through all the NDAA, Patriot ACT, and the rest of the 1,000 executive orders signed by our dictator in the oval office? Doing their job and acting like they care.
    ACLU, NIST, FAA, FDA, NHTSA are all full of shit…as is all the alphabet organizations, currently run by clueless sheople and their minion masters.

    Anyone who would drive a Ford piece of shit product, after they spent the last 100 years killing American people with their crappy vehicles, their exploding police cars and military trucks…are depriving some village of its idiot.

  5. pete says:

    the airbag control module in ALL cars that have airbags will record the exact details of engine,gearbox throttle etc at the time it fires the bags.
    this has always been the case.
    (insurance company’s can and do download the log)

    what this is about, is keeping a rolling record at all times – not just when an accident happens.
    so when the police pull you over, instead of asking you anything, they can just plug a handheld terminal into your OBD2 connector and see if you have done anything they can fine you for!!!

    in the future in the u.s. car buyers should physically disable or remove WiFi / BlueTooth modules, celular interfaces etc. and remove or cut the wires into the OBD2 connector in the dash or console.

    in Europe there is no talk of such crap because of the extra cost, but we still have the airbag log to deal with.
    it’s not uncommon for people to “lose” the airbag controller after an accident.

    • ToM says:

      Does this same air bag technology, also apply to roll over vans?

      • pete says:

        i’v never heard of “roll over vans”,

        but i do know that the bmw convertable has an anti-roll system that fires an explosive powered rollbar if the front suspension leaves the road on one side.

        that does keep a similar log because a friend tripped one racing over a traffic-island!

        bmw btw keeps a hell of a lot of data about mileage & hours of use etc in multiple places including the ignition-key!

  6. # 1 NWO Hatr says:

    “Feds Want ‘Black Boxes’ in New Cars, But Who Will Be Tracking You?”

    I’m assuming this is purely a rhetorical question.

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