Obama Administration Rushes “Creepy Black Box” Mandate on All New Car Buyers

Falsely Claims Data Tracking Will Be Minimal

Washington, D.C. – National Center Adjunct Fellow Horace Cooper is condemning the decision by the Obama Administration to bypass Congress and implement its automobile “black box” mandate administratively.

The Department of Transportation has announced a proposed rule to require Event Data Recorders (EDRs) in 100% of all light vehicles sold in the United States. EDRs are more commonly known as “black boxes,” such as those carried by aircraft.

Last year a similar proposal was killed by the House of Representatives when it was included in a Senate-passed bill to fund the nation’s transportation needs.

“Not only will this new requirement give new resources and data to the DOT to support more economically-damaging regulations in the future; this mandate itself represents an unprecedented breach of privacy for Americans. Operating more like a surveillance camera than a tool for accident investigation, this DOT rule-making is the embodiment of Orwellian monitoring,” Cooper explained.

“Contrary to what is now being claimed, EDRs can and will track the comings and goings of car owners and even their passengers,” Cooper said. “EDRs not only provide details necessary for accident investigation, they also track travel records, passenger usage, cell phone use and other private data. Who you visit, what you weigh, how often you call your mother and more is captured by these devices. Mandating that they be installed and accessible by the DOT is a terrible idea.”

“This decision to bypass Congress and adopt this change administratively demonstrates a reckless disregard for the privacy rights of the American people,” Cooper argued. “Claiming that the data collected will only be for the time period immediately surrounding the crash is no protection when the system itself will be running whenever the engine is on. In the digital era, we know that even if the programs were simply overwriting after each start, the underlying data remains there to be accessed. In this case, we don’t even have that assurance.”

“It is axiomatic that before the government can surreptitiously search a citizen or his car, it needs approval from a judge. Pretending that that protection goes away when the search is carried out electronically not only threatens the liberties of all Americans, it rejects our founders’ clear understanding of the limitations on the government,” Cooper concluded.

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