Cars and our Fourth Amendment Rights?

Sections: Car Safety, Car Security, Telematics

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A big hat tip to automotive journalist Lauren Fix for penning the piece below on the fourth amendment and our automobiles.  As an avid believer in our individual rights and freedom like our founders imagined, she wonders about how law enforcement may infringe on us.  When taken a step further, imagine a day when black boxes are constantly communicating through telematics to the insurance companies and the mothership.  Park your car in a bad neighborhood?  Rates go up.  Neglect to change your oil for a few weeks after the dashboard display tells you to?  Warranty is nullified.

Although black boxes do a wonderful job of sorting through crash data to make vehicles safer, there has to be some sort limit imposed so motorists can maintain our privacy.  A lot of people are still interested in disconnecting their OnStar units- a quick search on Google lets you see it can be done.

Although the security and convenience of OnStar outweighs some of the privacy issues today, we hope we can still enjoy our vehicles tomorrow without fear of manufacturer or government intrusion.

From Laurent Fix:

Another Big Brother Edition
I’m sure all of you are aware of the flight data recorders on commercial aircraft known as the black boxes.  They record every part of a flight and are used to determine the cause of a crash.  Well, now we’re getting them in our cars.
Actually, most of you who drive newer cars are already being monitored.  Why?  So that insurance companies, law enforcement and government agencies like NHTSA can determine the cause of a crash.  While this will actually help keep insurance rates down and provide crucial data to help determine who may be at fault in an accident, what’s the cost to the motoring public?
My worry is that since the black boxes in our cars can measure speed, they will be used against us for speeding infractions.  Could you imagine a cop sees you speeding, can’t prove it, but then just plugs in to your car’s black box to issue a ticket?
Just like the new TSA backscatter machines at the airport, out liberties are being taken away a little bit at a time in the name of safety and progress.
Furthermore, what happens when we go to court to dispute an accident or speeding ticket?  How can we cross examine a black box?  This is akin to red light cameras.  You can’t question technology.
Think about this – do black boxes violate your 4th Amendment Rights? The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution reads:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Lastly, who’s paying for this technology to be installed in our cars?  We are.  We all know the manufacturers pass on the cost of government-mandated equipment to the consumer.
Pretty soon we’re all going to have to wear camera on our heads so that Big Brother can monitor our every move.


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