State Auto Black Boxes Policy
Automobile Event Data Recorders (a.k.a. “black boxes” or EDRs) are built into more than 90% of new cars. EPIC, joined privacy and civil rights organizations, has urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to protect driver privacy. Fifteen states, including Nevada, Oregon, Texas, North Dakota, and Washington have implemented strong legislation that safeguards the driver information gathered by EDR devices.
Exemplary Law: Washington’s Recording Devices in Motor Vehicles Law
Passed in 2009, Washington State’s Recording Devices in Motor Vehicles Law is a comprehensive EDR privacy law. The law includes these vital provisions:
- Transparency: The law requires disclosure of event data recorders in writing or in the owner’s manual of new vehicles sold or leased in Washington. It also requires disclosure in agreements with subscription services.
- Control of data: Washington prohibits the download of EDR data except: 1) with owner’s consent; 2) court order; 3) vehicle safety research; 4) for dispatch of emergency medical personnel.
- Purpose specification: Washington’s law limits the purposes for which EDR data is used.
- Enforcement: The Washington law provides that any person that accesses EDR data without vehicle owner consent, and who does not otherwise have authority granted by narrowly tailored exceptions, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Violations also fall under the Washington Consumer Protection Act.
Additional Provisions: Colorado Event Data Recorders Law
Colorado also has a strong EDR law (CRS § 42-4-2402). The Colorado statute makes event data the personal information of the driver and prohibits collection and distribution of that data except (1) with consent, (2) for service, (3) for litigation, (4) by court order. Violation of the law carries criminal penalties, including fines and up to eighteen months in prison.
- EPIC: Automobile Event Data Recorders (Black Boxes) and Privacy
- EPIC et al., Comments to NHTSA Docket No. NHTSA-2012-0177. These comments spell out the best practices for federal EDR policy based on current state laws. (2013)
- National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL): Privacy of Data from Event Data Recorders: State Statutes
- Are Vehicle Black Boxes a Good Idea?, Marc Rotenberg, The Costco Connection, April 2013
- Another View: Steer Clear of Cars That Spy, Marc Rotenberg, USA Today, August 18, 2011
- Orin Kerr, The Fourth Amendment and Access to Automobile ‘Black Boxes’ (2017)
- Florida State Fourth District: State v. Worsham (2017) (accessing EDR data requires a warrant)