One of these days, I fully expect to open the medicine cabinet in my bathroom and see somebody checking out what kind of toothpaste and shaving cream I use. It sounds like a joke, but we’ve almost reached that point in our country, where the government wants to know more and more about every aspect of our lives. I’m shocked that they haven’t turned “privacy” into a hate word by now. Maybe the word “privacy” will just cease to exist after a while because the concepts that it stands for certainly have.
The latest form of spying on U.S. citizens comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is attempting to make it mandatory for all new cars and light trucks to have black boxes installed in them. As you know, these event data recorders have been used for a number of years to discover what causes commercial airline crashes.
The devices, which are already in some cars, track the speed of a vehicle and reveal whether seat belts were buckled at the time of a crash and whether the driver used the brakes before a crash, as well as information about engine throttle and air bag readiness.
If a black box helps in the arrest of a drunken driver who plows into a swing set on a school playground, it would be difficult to argue against its usage. But why do I get the feeling that, like every other governmental intrusion in our lives, information from these black boxes will be used more often to spy on people the government is interested in than it will in getting dangerous drivers off the road?
Check out this article from ABC News, with a headline that reads, “Feds Want ‘Black Boxes’ in New Cars, But Who Will Be Tracking You?”
Privacy advocates are saying that proper safeguards need to be put into place to prevent spying on drivers by police, insurance companies and other agencies through vehicle black boxes. They want to know who will see the information contained in these data recorders, what it will be used for and if the vehicle owner will have the rights to the data.
What do you think about mandatory black boxes for automobiles? Good idea that may save lives, or another in an endless array of privacy violations? Let me know what you think.