Capuano Files Legislation Granting Consumers More Control Over Their Car's "Black Box"

February 16, 2007

In an effort to protect consumer privacy, Congressman Michael Capuano (D-MA) introduced legislation giving vehicle owners control over the data collected through their car's event data recorder or "black box". It also requires automobile dealers to provide consumers with the option of enabling and disabling event data recorders in their automobiles.

"Consumers should have control over the information collected by event data recorders in vehicles that they own and they should have the option of disabling the recording function if they choose to do so. This is a basic issue of privacy," stated Congressman Mike Capuano, who introduced similar legislation in the 109th Congress.

"Black boxes" or "event data recorders" are installed in cars to record how drivers react in the seconds leading up to accidents. Most consumers are not aware that their vehicles are recording data that has the potential of being used against them in a civil or criminal proceeding, or by their insurer to increase rates. There are currently no federal laws clarifying a vehicle owner's rights with respect to ownership of the recorded data. In the absence of this, several states have created standards of ownership and rights for recorded data but the laws vary from state to state.

Under Congressman Capuano's legislation, all data recorded on the event data recorder is the property of the vehicle's owner. The data collected may not be downloaded without the consent of the vehicle owner, unless a court order is in place. The legislation also requires that an event data recorder include a disabling function. Once disabled, the recording function shall not resume functioning until the consumer chooses to reinstate it.

"Many cars already have event data recorders, yet protections for consumers over the use of the data collected have not been addressed in a comprehensive way. My legislation makes it clear that the information gathered is the property of the vehicle's owner," stated Congressman Capuano.


Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208