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    Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Klobuchar, Franken ramp up driver privacy efforts

    The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports on legislative efforts by Minnesota Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken concerning drivers’ privacy:

    Washington – A device roughly the size of two decks of cards could play a large role in the growing push on Capitol Hill to better protect the privacy of personal data.

    These event data recorders — commonly referred to as black boxes — are situated beneath the front seat or console in vehicles, where they can track speed, steering angle, braking, air bag deployment, seat belt use and other information. The data they record is valuable to auto manufacturers and insurers trying to assess the reliability of different models and the circumstances of accidents.

    As vehicle systems become more complex, concerns are growing that the information could be put to other uses, too, and that there is no comprehensive law governing who owns such information and what ­purposes it can serve. […]

    Klobuchar and others want to limit the ways in which that data can be used. Last week, Klobuchar and U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., introduced the Driver Privacy Act, which would ensure that the owner of a vehicle also owns the data recorded by that vehicle. The bill would require a warrant to release that data without the owner’s consent. North Dakota and 13 other states already have such a law. […]

    But privacy advocates say the data can be used in criminal probes, to find fault in crashes or even to build profiles that savvy marketers could exploit. […]

    Black boxes aren’t the only devices in vehicles tracking information.

    In a report requested by U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., the Government Accountability Office found that automakers were storing private data ­collected from onboard navigation systems without allowing car owners to ask that it be erased. […]

    Franken and others fear that it wouldn’t take much to tweak event data recorders and other vehicle technology for equally broad uses.

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