Congressman Capuano Introduces Legislation Giving Consumers More Control Over Their Car's "Black Boxes"

June 29, 2011

Congressman Mike Capuano has re-filed legislation that would grant vehicle owners more control over the information collected through their car's "black box" event data recorder (EDR) by requiring manufacturers to provide customers with the option to enable or disable these devices.

"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 device if they choose to do so. This is a basic issue of privacy," stated Congressman Mike Capuano.

Event data recorders, or "black boxes," are installed in vehicles to collect information leading up to an accident. They record factors such as speed and brake application. Many consumers are not aware that this data has the potential of being used against them in civil or criminal proceedings, or by their insurer to increase rates. No federal law exists to clarify the rights of a vehicle owner with respect to this recorded data, although some states have created differed standards of ownership and rights.

All data collected by an EDR becomes the property of the vehicle owner under this legislation. The bill would make it illegal for anyone other than the vehicle owner to download or retrieve information without owner consent or a court order. The legislation also requires that all new cars equipped with EDRs feature an optional disabling function that cannot be reinstated without the owners consent.

"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 (Rep. Capuano) 617-621-6208