Black box info belongs to the consumer, but it doesn’t always give the full picture
“Our big fear is that automakers get you to give away all your data at the closing in the dealership,” said Jeff Plungis, lead automotive investigative reporter at Consumer Reports. “It’s one document in a giant stack that you are signing under pressure. … Our contention is that because this is a sort of new thing for motorists to deal with, they’re not understanding all the implications of what they’re giving up.”
A 2015 law tried to provide clarity. The Driver Privacy Act affirmed that vehicle owners and lessees own data logged on black boxes, officially called event data recorders, or EDRs, which record information such as vehicle speed, crash forces and braking events.
“The concerning part is what the EDR data doesn’t give you,” Kane said. “It never gives you the full picture, and it’s easily misunderstood. So you need the other data to get an idea of what really happened — the level of detail that’s stored on some of these other modules can be much more granular, and in some cases, it can tell a very different story than the EDR.”
In 2014, 20 automakers agreed on privacy principles put forth by their chief lobbying organization, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, that committed to providing consumers “clear, meaningful and prominent” notices when they collected, used or shared location information, biometrics and driver-behavior information.