Black boxes in cars raise privacy concerns


Some vehicles already have the devices, which record the actions of the drivers and the responses of their vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says black boxes can help investigators determine the cause of crashes and lead to safer vehicles.

But privacy advocates say regulators need to first adopt rules to prevent the misuse of the information collected.

There's no opt-out. It's extremely difficult for car owners to disable the recorders. Although some car models have had recorders since the 1990s, a federal requirement that automakers disclose their existence in owner's manuals didn't go into effect until just three months ago.

Besides the upcoming proposal to put recorders in all new vehicles, the traffic safety administration is also considering expanding the data requirement to include as many as 30 additional types of data such as whether the vehicle's electronic stability control was engaged, the driver's seat position or whether the front-seat passenger was belted in. Some manufacturers already are collecting the information.

Engineers have identified more than 80 data points that might be useful.

"Black box," a term for a device whose workings are obscure, is most widely used to refer to flight data recorders, which continually gather information about an aircraft's operation during flight. Aircraft recorders, by law, are actually bright orange.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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