The Double Edged Sword that is the Event Data Recorder
Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law
Temple Environmental Law and Technology Journal, Vol. 25, No. 1, p.33, 2006
The Event Data Recorder (EDR) is the automotive black box which is installed on almost all new manufactured vehicles. EDRs monitor the driver’s use of a vehicle. When an accident occurs, the EDR preserves the prior 5 to 20 seconds of recorded data for possible retrieval, providing a critical snapshot of what happened in the moments before impact. The data that is recorded has expanded from information about deceleration to information that ranges across as many as 16 different parameters.
This article discusses the benefits and challenges of EDR technology. The ostensible primary purpose of the EDR is limited in scope and often phrased in terms of consumer protection. The information stored in EDRs is useful for the composite data it generates about air bag use and effectiveness. It is also useful in individual instances because it provides information about a vehicle’s use and condition in the moments before an accident. This information has been used in court to prosecute drivers who were driving at reckless speeds and to rebut claims of air bag malfunctioning and other vehicle defects, for example.
However, the use of EDR data raises privacy concerns. The use of EDR data in criminal cases may threaten liberties protected by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. EDRs also raise critical issues such as who should have access to the data stored and under what circumstances. Privacy advocates are concerned that most vehicle owners and operators have no idea what EDR technology is or what information it is gathering.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: Privacy, technology, evidence
Date posted: May 22, 2009
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