The little black boxes ….coming soon to new cars near you

Do you hear a dripping sound?  The drip, drip, drip of individual freedoms and right to privacy being eroded one by one.  While others lament this campaign cycle is temporarily going to the dogs, I’m venting about the Federal Government mandating (yes, another mandate) that beginning in 2015, all new cars must have little black boxes (the fancy term is “Mandatory Data Event Recorders”) installed in them.

The little black boxes requirement, section 31406, is covered within Senate Bill 1813, recently passed by them, and awaiting House a-okay.  You’ll find it lodged between the regulation requiring federal standards be set for push-button ignition systems (we need protection, lest our index fingers get carpal tunnel from too much pushing the start car button) and the prohibition on visual entertainment systems from within the driver’s view.

According to the law, the data event recorder is a must, and there are civil penalties if we, as free citizens in a freedom-loving country, decide to forego installation.  We are assured as car owners or lessees, that we “own” the data kept within, we give permission for its use in emergencies, or for car service or repair, or unless “a court authorizes retrieval of the information in furtherance of a legal proceeding.”

The American Dream once upon a time

When does a court authorize retrieval.  For overdue parking tickets?  Non-payment of alimony?  DUI convictions?  Parolees?  FBI watch list?  And what happens if the court authorizes retrieval.  Does that mean your driving rights become restricted or you can’t drive a car if convicted?

Those of us with a GPS  in our cars already turn over a portion of our privacy in exchange of emergency road service, locking keys in a car, or directions to the hottest restaurant or shopping mall.  But we do that by choice, not by mandate.

This Bill, while not as lengthy as Obamacare, is another example of passage without reading by our sagacious senators.  How many of them do you think actually know about the little black box mandate.  How many actually care.

Drip, drip, drip.




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