May 9, 2007
Dear CNET members,
Last week's community hot topic was about alternative fuels for cars. Usually I don't make it a habit of doing two car topics in a row, but I just couldn't pass this one up. You folks have to check out this latest Security Watch column: Is your car spying on you?, in which CNET editor Robert Vamosi gives us the lowdown on the widespread use of black boxes installed in most domestic cars produced since 2000.
Most of us know about the black boxes or data recorders in commercial airplanes, which record data about the plane's every activity--including the recording of pilot communications. While these car black boxes don't record conversations in cars (thankfully), they do record just about everything else about the car--from the traveling speed to knowing if you have your seat belt on. I know data recorders in airplanes prove to be extremely helpful in the event of disaster and I can see it to be useful in car accidents, where they can help assist investigating authorities in getting a better understanding of what happened. But what if the information from these devices is misused or abused? Or used for commercial purposes--for example, insurance companies tracking your driving behavior to set the cost of your insurance premium? Did you know that some states are considering the use of these devices to record mileage, and thus impose an additional mileage tax? Where should the line be drawn on privacy vs. public safety? This column has sparked lots of opinions from both sides of the fence--where some say this is over the line in violating privacy rights, some say it's about time these devices were put more fully into practice. But what do you think? Are you concerned about the potential uses of your car's black box? Why or why not? Read the column and see what other members are saying. When you're ready, hit that Post comment button to tell us where you stand with these black boxes in cars. We are all eagerly anticipating your opinion!
This week's hot topic:
Is your car spying on you?
In his latest CNET Security Watch column, Robert Vamosi brings to our attention the widespread use of black boxes in most domestic cars produced since 2000. Many of our members were quick to express how they feel about it.
"Would we ever tolerate the airlines, railroads, bus companies, or the travel industry in general if nearly 1,000 people die every week in crashes? Then why do we tolerate such statistics when it comes to the general population driving their cars? The trouble is that the general population does not regard driving..." (Read more)
--Submitted by: CNET member benoddo"George Orwell's 1984"
"Looks like in the interest of safety we will be losing another freedom. The freedom to make stupid or bad choices and lie about them...what is next? RFID in our clothes to track us? I think Progressives TripSense is a good idea but not well-thought-out processwise. It would be better to base it on actual driver..." (Read more)
--Submitted by: CNET member 19mec55"It's something that goes with
"If driving was something you do in the comfort of your home or anywhere private, you would ask for your privacy to be kept. But that is not the case. It is done in public with a great responsibility to maintain the safety of the public. So there is nothing private about it, and as long as a person is responsible out there in..." (Read more)
--Submitted by: CNET member mnegib"It's a thin line between protection
"Now, I'm a technologist as well as a libertarian, so I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing--I see both good and bad. But historically, our ability to protect our privacy continues to erode. As the world becomes more digital, we leave a larger data wake (GPS in cell phones, Web surfing patterns, and making..." (Read more)
--Submitted by: CNET member LukehartSpeak up!
Now it's your turn to tell us what you think of these black boxes in cars. Are you concerned about the potential uses of your car's black box? In a detailed response, why are you for or against them?
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