Senate to consider bill to protect driver data

Senate to consider bill to protect driver data
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The Senate committee that oversees transportation issues is scheduled to mark up a measure on Wednesday that would protect drivers’ information that is collected by on-board event data recorders. 

The measure, which is known as the Driver Privacy Act, would stipulate that information collected by automobile data records belongs to the owner of the vehicle. 

The sponsors of the legislation, Sens. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenBottom Line Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator McConnell ups pressure on White House to get a budget deal MORE (R-N.D.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: FCC approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Dems wrangle over breaking up Big Tech at debate | Critics pounce as Facebook's Libra stumbles | Zuckerberg to be interviewed by Fox News | Twitter details rules for political figures' tweets Progressive action group defends Warren over dodging of 'Medicare for all' questions The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump seeks distance from Syria crisis MORE (D-Minn.), it was important to clarify the ownership of data captured by cars because on-board recorders are becoming more common in newer auto models.

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“Under this legislation we make sure that the information recorded by the EDR – the electronic data recorder in your car – is information that you retain and control so that your privacy is protected,” Hoeven said in a statement when the legislation was released on Monday. “

“While EDRs can serve a useful function by helping to make cars safer, access to the data should be treated as personal except under very specific circumstances,” he continued. “Our bill makes clear what those circumstances are and helps to ensure that government and other entities respect the Fourth Amendment rights of Americans.”

Klobuchar agreed, saying “new vehicle technologies can help improve safety, but they can also raise concerns about how this information is used.”

“This commonsense bill would help protect driver privacy by making clear that the owner of a vehicle also owns the data recorded by the vehicle,” she said in a statement. 

The lawmakers said the legislation is necessary because the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) has said that it lacks the legal authority to make decisions about the ownership of data that is recorded by cars. 

The legislation would require the agency to “conduct a study on the amount of time event data recorders installed in passenger motor vehicles should capture and record for retrieval vehicle-related data in conjunction with an event,” according to the lawmakers’ offices. 

The highway and traffic safety agency has said that on-board data recorders have been helpful in its accident investigations. 

“NHTSA has been using EDRs to support its crash investigation program for several years,” the agency says about the devices on its website. “EDR data is routinely incorporated into NHTSA's crash databases.”