Streams

Cars, Technology, and Your Privacy

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

(Flickr user mouton.rebelle/flickr)

We kick off our "family meeting" on privacy: Would you be comfortable with technology in your car that stores information about how you drive-- how often you speed, whether you turn without signaling, if you ever drive without a seat belt, etc? Why?

How uncomfortable are you with technology in your car that stores information about how you drive, if you could use the data about good habits to lower your insurance bills?

-- One of the questions in our Privacy Conundrums Quiz

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Comments [54]

Anne formerly of UWS, now the 'burbs from Nassau County

I have been an ACLU member for over 25 years, and am a pragmatic civil libertarian when it comes to privacy. I'm not on Facebook for that reason, and I manage all of my internet activity with the knowledge that nothing is really safe, but it's better to lock the door on my way out.

We have no expectation of privacy when we're outside. There are a lot of security cameras in NYC (all over the place, actually) and the police have access to those images whenever they want. So all of the pearl-clutching about privacy in our cars is silly. You have, at best, minimal expectation of privacy in your car. If a cop were following you at the time of an accident, the cop would collect the information about conditions, etc. preceding the crash. Except that the estimate of speed, whether the brake was applied, whether the other driver was fiddling with his phone, etc. would be inaccurate or incomplete.

I lived in Manhattan for decades, and recently moved to the suburbs, to a development where there are many enormous SUVs (why? Do all these people go off-road on their way through Queens into Manhattan?) and they run stop signs and drive the wrong way on one-way streets where it is inconvenient to follow the law. I got a ticket from a red-light camera recently, and having paid the fine once, I will never run another red light. I would gladly have black boxes storing the information if it means that people will drive more safely as a result.

One more thing - there is no constitutional right to drive.

Mar. 04 2014 11:37 PM
Glen Furman

Governmental abuse of privacy concerns are real, this puts our concept of "Reasonable expectation of privacy" at risk.
Given Onstar and bluetooth cellphone devices connected to the vehicle, it is possible that conversations indie the vehicle might be monitored as well.
Moreover, insurance companies using the information to lower rates ignores the possibility that a vehicle can have more than one driver.

Mar. 04 2014 07:46 PM
Albert Kaufman from Marine Park

I have no objection to the government knowing everything about everybody's (everybodies" ??) life (lives ??) as long as the public knows everything about all government officials' lives.

Mar. 04 2014 02:47 PM
KZ from New Jersey

I find this such an annoying line of discussion. Data collection is being used as a substitute for real solutions.

I live in New Jersey, which has terrible roads, poor signage, minimal traffic enforcement. Collecting more data about how people drive is beside the point. Some of the worst, most aggressive drivers are police officers. They clearly don't want to solve the problems. Collecting more data is not going to help a system that no one really wants to fix.

I recently quit a job because the manager was obsessed with tweaking an online job tracking system. He spent so much time trying to figure out how to define and collect data metrics in order to maximize efficiency. But of course the answers to the problems had to do with his getting off the computer, understanding what his team did, and being a manager. Collecting data is easy. Solving real problems is something else.

Mar. 04 2014 01:43 PM

i checked into mount sinai hospital guggenheim last week. After the surgery and thinking back of all the untenable mistakes and shortcomings to the initial sign in process. I remembered at check in , my Number was called( privacy+) i sat down at the check in desk, and i was told to sign my name numerous times with a stylus onto a ipad size tablet, However there were no forms shown to me or given to me. Nor was i given any verbal feedback on what that ipad signature was being transferred to. I was just verbally told sign ,sign,sign,sign, ok your done. No indication or copies ,nor a screen in view of what i was signing. There was a screen on my tight, facing perpendicular to where i was seated,that i couldn't see since i am right handed , and signing i would be facing away from that are. Plus my view was 180 degrees to the screen, and i cant read a LCD screen sideways. were any copies of the forms i allegedly had signed. I was very tired as i had to take an early train, and was stressed,plus medicated for anxiety as per daily Rx.
I have been admitted to hospitals for surgeries/procedures over 15 times in the last 10 years. Every time i was shown the HIPAA form, and all the other paper forms and they were all Identified to me , the whole form was there in front of me, and i signed at the X, i had the opportunity to read the form and make sure i was signing a form i had seen. I know enough about IT to realize,later, that my signature could be placed on any and all forms, then and in the future, in case they wanted to protect themselves( Mount Sinai ) if they were missing a form and needed it to prove i gave written authorization. This sign in procedure at Mount Sinai is wrong on all accounts. As far as i am concerned , i did not sign any releases or Hippa acts etc, i signed a capacitive screen, that had no writing no info, not even a Horizontal line.

Mar. 04 2014 12:24 PM
Rick Evans from 10473

No one should trust insurance companies to give them a discount based on some spy tech in their car. At best them might give you a less high rate.

Insurance companies will charge a single, high school renter with a clean driving record more than a married, college educated homeowner with a bad driving record. They view the latter as more desirable because she might bundle and stick with them for a long time.

All that should matter in insurance rates are experience, driving record and type of car.

Mar. 04 2014 12:03 PM
Victoria from New York.

When you sync your iPhone calendar with your computer you must do it through iCloud otherwise you cannot sync.
This includes your contacts, memos, notes, reminders, etc.

This potentially opens you whole computer up to the anonymous cloud and the possibly of hacking. I am not syncing my phone anymore and it is very difficult.

Mar. 04 2014 10:53 AM
lisa vickery


Toyota was cleared

http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE7165SY20110208?irpc=932

Mar. 04 2014 10:50 AM
Howard from Da Bronx

HIPAA agreements are not all the same. I actually read one that said anyone who has access to my record could use it. I didn't sign it as is. I crossed out the passage.

Mar. 04 2014 10:46 AM
Howard from Da Bronx

E-Z Passes transmit going through toll areas. All it would take to reduce speeding would be to tally the time difference between the two points to compute your speed and send a ticket if the time differential says your speeding. It would take a week , on the NYS Thruway to drop the average speed by 10-20 mph hour. Think of the gas savings.

Mar. 04 2014 10:33 AM
Rita

So sorry I did not have a. Chance to call in. Is everyone so ready to agree to additional surveillance? Anxious to fully hand over privacy for the illusion of safety? We need more social conscience, to be more civilized. We do not need more Big Brother.

Mar. 04 2014 10:33 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To david from Ditmas Park

I can disconnect from the internet. I can use defensive software to block intrusions to a certain extent. Internet is not a right. I decided to use it. I have the right to disconnect from it or to try to block intrusions with blocking software, but in reality, I gave up the right to total privacy when I chose to use the telephone, the internet, the US post office, or any communication with the world outside my home.

Mar. 04 2014 10:33 AM
Howard from NYC

I am sure that the many handlers of our private vehicle data would protect it responsibly. At least as responsibly as Neiman-Marcus and Target protect you credit card data.

How come I am hearing no concerns from supporters of this data collection about the any statute-based "chain of custody" rules for this data? Does the driver own it, or does the state own it, or does a private company (or a string of them) have any limit on it's retention? Shall we discuss this after the collection mechanisms are in place?

The State of New York has, for many years, collected odometer mileage readings at inspection time. I have never been contacted by any insurance company, offering to reduce or increase my insurance premiums due to low or high exposure due to miles travelled.

Nor are any insurers currently offering to quantify the "discounts" that they would offer for access to my private data.

Public and private policy do not in any way keep up with technological advances. The only accelerant to such policies are driven by those who think they can monetize it.

When these recording mechanisms are installed ib my vehicles, I will personally disable them. Trust me.

Mar. 04 2014 10:32 AM
TaBuHax from NJ

My company lowers my health insurance because I have the suggested tests, do not smoke, and exercise. My lifestyle is healthy and therefore I have a lower rate. My car insurance is low because I don't get into accidents, have moving violations and pay my insurance on time. My homeowners insurance is low because I have an alarm system, and avoid risky items like a trampoline or a pool slide.

Same should be said of deciding to use a monitor on my car, or on my teenager's car. If I decide to share my driving habits by using a monitor I would expect to be awarded with lower rates if my driving is safe.

Monitoring is coming - this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, wearable and monitoring devices and the data analysis that provides will be the trend for the upcoming years.

Mar. 04 2014 10:31 AM

@Nick from UWS
Amen

Mar. 04 2014 10:30 AM
PeppermintAndCinnamon.com from NJ

The reduction of crime or the increase of safety can be (and is) used to try and justify almost any intrusion by government into our lives, without looking at how each intrusion creates the fabric of a surveillance state, not dissimilar from the former East Germany. An introduction to the conditions of that state is really needed. Free will and choice and privacy implies that sometimes bad things will happen, that is the nature and price of liberty. Unfortunately each encroachment against those valuable qualities in order to increase "safety" is looked at myopically, without considering the type of state that is being created by all of them together.

Mar. 04 2014 10:29 AM

Hear…hear, Nick from UWS!!!

Mar. 04 2014 10:29 AM

@Nick from UWS - ABSOLUTELY! these bums driving around on their cell phones but give us tickets for them. some go home and watch the superbowl while on duty, like in edison nj, or sit in parking lots sleeping. then they retire in 20 years with pension and benefits for life. the first group of people who should lose all privacy outside their home are the police. they enforce the laws and get paid by our taxes for life.

Mar. 04 2014 10:29 AM
art525 from Park Slope

A couple of people have said that taxis and commercial vehicles should have this feature but not private citizens. I find that hypocritical. It would seem that they think there is an issue that needs to be addressed with taxis, that there is some sort of danger present. If there is a danger that requires taxis and comericial to have this feature how is that also not a danger presented by private drivers? If you are not doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about.It's not like they are finding out about your political leanings or your sexual proclivities. Seems pretty simple to me. And as for the person who talked about his mom driving 80 miles an hour all the time and never having an accident and the fact that she had never had an accident forgives her law breaking, I wonder how many people she jeopardized or freaked out in her driving. Ther is a reason we have rules. Speed limits. I think there is a real problem oin society these days that so many people think that rules don't apply to them. I haven't had any accidents therefore I can speed. I don't have to stop at red lights when I ride my bike because I need to get a jump on cars. No you are a citizen and you have just as much responsiblity as everyone else to conform with the rules. It's a pact which gives us a safe and organized society. And I'm sure you all will be surprised to hear that I am a liberal and a commited Democrat.

Mar. 04 2014 10:29 AM
John from NYC

There should an initiative to eliminate the PBA cards which is also known as the get out of driver violations and issued tickets free card. These cards appear to get distributed to half the population of Staten Island. Maybe there would be safer streets if these drivers didn't have a "free pass".

I would prioritize safety over any privacy concerns.

Mar. 04 2014 10:28 AM
Dan from Sleepy Hollow

When a driver kills a pedestrian, only the driver is around to say what happened. Such drivers have a significant incentive to obscure the truth or flat out lie. The information from the data recorder is necessary to find out what really happend.

Mar. 04 2014 10:28 AM
David

I dont think it will help but once external circumstances are outside the norm then the event data will be useless and speak against the drivers reaction to whatever that external situation was. I say this because not too long ago I was in an accident that would have been fatal for me had I not mashed the gas pedal, this changing how the offending car was going to hit me.

The story: The other driver moved into my lane with out looking, the highway had no shoulder, and up ahead was a light pole. As things were he would have hit me over my front wheel which would have sent me into that pole or the wall. I had honked but the driver was blasting music. I had just enough time to floor it and stick as far right as I could so that when he made contact with my car it was over the back wheel preserving my ability to counter steer and avoid a much worst accident. And I would imagine at that point he was able to see what was going to happen and tried to avoid me, had I not done that he would have purposely made his lane change consequently pushed me into the wall and then light pole.

Mar. 04 2014 10:26 AM

This sort of crap is ALWAYS sold to us as a net benefit when, in fact it is just another Korporate™ scam to cash-in on more of our data.

Big Brother® riding shotgun!!

I call a BIG FAT BS!!

Mar. 04 2014 10:26 AM
david from Ditmas Park


question for jgarbuz from Queens:

Do you feel you have privacy in your home now, specifically regarding your use of the internet?

This is kinda what I mean...when incremental invasion of privacy is so easily normalized.

Mar. 04 2014 10:26 AM

those who speed will want privacy and those who "walk to work" want this so they can mindless look at their email on their smartphone as they walk aimless into the street. would the possible hipster who called in walking to work, would he be ok with smartphones letting the police know when he jaywalks and sends him a ticket?

Mar. 04 2014 10:25 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I might be OK w/a black box in cars, but not w/their transmitting the info. They can access it after the fact, same as w/airplanes.

Mar. 04 2014 10:25 AM
Carrie

Don't forget that our phones and GPS units are already tracking our movements, and that data is already being retrieved and used by both marketers and the government. I'm glad we're debating this important issue, but let's not pretend like it's something new.

Mar. 04 2014 10:24 AM
jano

How about police cars? They definitely should be monitored. They are the most egregious violators of public safety in my experience... perhaps that is why they are so loathe to enforce traffic rules.

Mar. 04 2014 10:24 AM

Hey, I got a novel idea!

How 'bout having the meathead NYPD enforcing traffic laws instead of using traffic laws as an excuse to generate revenue!!

Mar. 04 2014 10:24 AM
Aun Hasan Ali from Collingswood, NJ

How revealing that not a single person can explain why privacy is important other than to say it is inherently important.

Mar. 04 2014 10:23 AM
Nick from UWS

If they're going to do this, then I think it should be law that all police cars have these data recorders that continually stream police driving data into a public access database; the driving behavior of the police should be a matter of open public record.

Mar. 04 2014 10:22 AM

I don't have statistics, but Cabs are not the primary causes of accidents within the 5 boro's. What about Trucks, Unlicensed Drivers, Bus Drivers, Sanitation Vehicles??

Mar. 04 2014 10:21 AM
Melissa from Ditmas Park

It's a slippery slope. Everyone can agree that safety is a concern and there is not enough ticketing going on for bad behavior on the road. But insurance rates for driving in NYC are ridiculous enough! I certainly wouldn't want my rates to rise because the black box shows that I occasionally have to make a sudden swerve or turn or speed up quickly in order to avoid other bad drivers in New York. Data alone doesn't equal the full story.

Mar. 04 2014 10:20 AM
JP from Neptune, NJ

I just read in a issue of Car and Driver that Cars will start placing a "SmartScreen" where your speedometer typically is as opposed to the center console. It'll be on the space right below your field of vision, shrinking your speedometer & placing it to the lower corners of the screen making room for other "important" information such as text messages, song listings, email, etc. They say eventually they'll use your cars gps location & direction of travel in relation to approaching retail stores to provide ads and the like on the main portion of this screen.

Mar. 04 2014 10:19 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I think the right to privacy should be limited only to the home, and not when you are outside the confines of your home and among the public. And even inside the home, if there is suspicion of crime or terrorism, the court should decide if the government can invade the privacy of your home. Outside the home, you have no right to privacy, only within the walls of your abode.

Mar. 04 2014 10:19 AM
John A

Stop saying cars 'storing' your data. With current trends, 'Internet of Things' fervor, car-to-car warning systems, dashboard internt radio, etc. your new car will soon start Transmitting your data. Not good.

Mar. 04 2014 10:19 AM
david from Ditmas Park


This is very clearly a slippery slope. I understand the benefits regarding safety, but the general notion of "being watched" regardless how passively this may happen, is just unsettling on a very basic human experience level. The depth of surveillance and the degree to which it may ultimately be used for law enforcement could incrementally increase and land us in a all-out invisible police state.

Also, it's just creepy.

Mar. 04 2014 10:17 AM
JT from NJ

Who gets access to the information and who is capable of interpreting it? As info becomes more specialized, how is the average citizen to know who is telling the truth about what the information is saying?

The pedal could stick in my car, for instance, but I can't go into the car's computer and know that it is reporting this fact. I depend on someone else to tell me.

Mar. 04 2014 10:17 AM
tom from qns

My mother was known as "hot rod Mary" among my friends because she drove fast. She has never been in an accident, still driving at 85. A smart driver is not necessarily A CONVENTIONAL DRIVER -- that is what black boxes would demand, only one kind of conventional driver. NOT SAFER, but arbitrary, and the insurance companies would learn how to monetize the information, not save us money.

Mar. 04 2014 10:16 AM
Al from Marine Park

FROM RECKLESS TO WRECKLESS: The crime rate would be a lot higher if people were not afraid of being caught, and so perhaps the reckless driving rate will be reduced if people knew that their car insurance rates would go up if they were caught driving recklessly

Mar. 04 2014 10:16 AM
art525 from Park Slope

I imagine there will be a knee jerk reaction that people will feel like it's an intrusion on your privacy.But it seems to me that the only way it invades your privacy is it tells us whether you are driving responsibly. So if you don't do anything wrong it won't effect you. However if you were involved in an accident and knew you were in the right wouldn't you hope there was a witness to the event that could vouch for you?
I know of a case last sumer wherre a 9 year old boy was killed by an incredibly reckless driver. People had witnessed the driver driving erratically. Even passing cars on the shoulder. The driver claimed that the gas pedal stuck or the brakes failed and that driver ewas not held responsible. Everyone knows the driver was responsible. If there had been a data recorder in that car the truth would come out and that person would be held responsible. I would love to see that.

Mar. 04 2014 10:16 AM
Jeanne from NJ

Will the Police just remain home and monitor us from their computer stations?

Mar. 04 2014 10:16 AM
alvin golub from gravesend broloklyn ny

What about eazypass it tells the government a lot.

Mar. 04 2014 10:15 AM
J from NJ

We are only one tiny step away from the "thought police". It's not gonna stop at your car. Soon it will be mandatory that every child has a monitoring gps chip inserted under the skin. and this will be sold as "all for the good" and for "everyone's well-being".

People need to wake up before it's too late.

Mar. 04 2014 10:15 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I think the right to privacy should be limited only to the home, and not when you are outside the confines of your home and among the public. And even inside the home, if there is suspicion of crime or terrorism, the court should decide if the government can invade the privacy of your home. Outside the home, you have no right to privacy, only within the walls of your abode.

Mar. 04 2014 10:15 AM
Jeanne from Hathorne

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Let's not go there!!!!! DANGER, DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!!!!!

Mar. 04 2014 10:14 AM
Mick from Bklyn

There's no looking back on this - it's already here.
But...why not use the technology to absolutely prevent drunk driving? Would the liquor lobbyists in Washington allow that to happen?

Mar. 04 2014 10:13 AM

@Brian, that Toyota problem was shown to be bogus and that there wasn't a defect. Poor example.

Mar. 04 2014 10:12 AM

all are bad ideas...people, enough of the Nanny State.

Mar. 04 2014 10:10 AM
Jessie Henshaw from way uptown

What people don't seem to think of is that the only right to invade people's privacy is for *overriding* public purposes. That would apply to recording everything happening in the 30 minutes before an accident, but not to massive pointless privacy invasion.

I think it's OK if the black box records the last half-hour, or hour, but not recording everything to keep forever.

Mar. 04 2014 10:10 AM

Screw these Orwellian InfoStalkers®!!

Mar. 04 2014 10:10 AM
Daniel Zeller from Brooklyn

A car is a weapon, plain and simple. It is a privilege not a right. Anyone driving irresponsibly puts others at risk and should not be allowed to do so.

Mar. 04 2014 10:09 AM
The Truth from Becky

Uhmmmm, No

Mar. 04 2014 10:09 AM

Another brick in the wall...

Mar. 04 2014 10:06 AM

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