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DC Insider: Privacy and data protection for all road users

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As the result of the introduction of new technologies – and revelations about how the information gleaned from this technology is being used – privacy and data collection issues are debated regularly in the media, Congress and the executive branch.

A host of bills has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate aimed at protecting and clarifying the types of data which are owned by individual consumers – and cannot be used without consent – and which consumer data are available for marketing and legal proceedings.

Several bills have been introduced that will clarify who owns and, as a result, who can access data from your vehicles.

Like so many things in life, the bills are not equal.

H.R. 2414, the Black Box Privacy Protection Act, is a broad proposal. First, it defines an event data recorder – commonly known as a black box – as “any device or means of technology installed in an automobile that records information such as automobile or motorcycle speed, seatbelt use, application of brakes or other information pertinent to the operation of the automobile or motorcycle, as applicable.”

The bill goes on to say that “any data recorded on any event data recorder in an automobile or motorcycle shall be considered the property of the owner of the automobile or motorcycle.”

H.R. 2414 would ensure that the owner of the motorcycle would own the data. No one else could access this data without the permission of the owner, a court order, or for diagnostic and maintenance purposes.

This bill grants the same protections to operators of motorcycles as is granted other non-commercial vehicles.

The American Motorcyclist Association fully supports this bipartisan bill.

S. 1925, the Driver Privacy Act, is significantly narrower in scope.

The bill would grant privacy protection only for data that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires to be collected under 49 CFR Part 563.

This section of the Code of Federal Regulations requires only passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks and buses to be equipped with the data recorders.

Motorcycles are not required to have the devices.

As a result, since event data recorders are not required to collect information in motorcycles, our data would not be covered under S. 1925.

Simply because event data recorders or black boxes are not required to be placed onto motorcycles does not mean motorcycles are not equipped with them. In fact, some current models are equipped with a black box.

While other motorcycle rights organization have supported both bills, the AMA is working with the sponsors and cosponsors of the Senate bill to ensure motorcyclists are granted the same protections as other non-commercial drivers on the roads.

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