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Old 11-09-2004, 09:31 PM   #1
vue-vtec
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Dizzy "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

If you don't already know, "Big Brother" is watching you. How long before someone finds a way to disable this crap? Read the article from Autoweek. Scary, very scary stuff:

Under the Hood, with Big Brother
Forget Orwell’s 1984—20 Years Later It’s Our Cars That Are Giving Us Up
BOB GRITZINGER
Published Date: 11/8/04
Someday it’ll happen, probably when you least expect it. Just as you countersteer while drifting out of a tight corner, or after you punch the brakes hard, you’ll hear the mechanically animated female voice emanating from your car’s audio system:

“Collision detected. Calling OnStar.”

You need not be anywhere close to a collision, really. For our road test team this summer, it was just a matter of running a routine slalom in a Chevy Malibu Maxx—without so much as hitting a rubber cone—when OnStar called to check up on our driver’s health.

If you’re anything like us, it won’t be until after you’ve explained to the distant helper that you didn’t have an accident, the airbags did not deploy, and you don’t need assistance, that you’ll begin to experience an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach.

How’d they know that you were driving like that? What else do they know? And who else knows?

Welcome to paranoia-ville—the driving equivalent of George Orwell’s 1984, brought to life here in the post-9/11 world of Homeland Security.

Your first impulse might be to complain of the intrusion to those behind the bright blue OnStar button, but here’s a flash: You should be far more alarmed by what alerted OnStar in the first place—the “black box” insidiously hard-wired into your car’s electronic guts, unstoppable, unalterable, and unbeknownst to most drivers, silently recording every dramatic move.

These four-inch square boxes (actually silver, not black)—known as Event Data Recorders (EDRs) or Crash Data Recorders (CDRs)—collect an array of information every five seconds as you’re driving down the road..... constantly record everything from seatbelt use and airbag deployment to throttle position and braking action—information retained the moment g forces indicate a crash is imminent. The threshold at which the EDR begins saving data (or sending a call to OnStar for help) varies depending on the vehicle—wouldn’t want your C6 Corvette overreacting like a pick-up truck, now would you?—but typically falls in a range from 1.0 to 2.0 gs. At the low end, the module “wakes up” and begins retaining recorded information, followed by a second threshold, typically when the airbag deploys, when additional data is saved. Once retained, the data typically is retrievable for up to 250 ignition cycles, or about 45 days on average.

In short, EDR data can paint a fairly descriptive picture of exactly what occurred in a vehicle in the critical moments immediately before, during and after a crash. Used as intended, data helps safety engineers make cars safer—and helps companies cut their product liability risks—by learning from information collected during real-world collisions.


"The technology is growing at the speed of light, and the laws are back in the Stone Age. We're not saying 'Smash the black boxes.' But we've yet to establish a legal regime that can put some chains on this growing surveillance monster." - Barry Steinhardt, ACLU Technology and Liberty Program (Photo by AP/Wide World Photos)

“You can’t shut it off, and you can’t manipulate it,” notes General Motors safety engineering spokesman Jim Schell. Other EDRs help technicians get to the bottom of service problems, sometimes without a customer even driving into the service bay. Similarly, OnStar and other helpful onboard services can provide directions and information, track stolen vehicles, send help in emergencies, and even save lives.

As with most technology in today’s world, though, unintended consequences are often the rule, not the exception. If your Chevrolet Tahoe records a 1.0 g on-ramp maneuver and calls OnStar, does that information help clear General Motors of liability after your sport/ute unexpectedly rolls over five miles farther down the road? Or if you’re autocrossing your Miata one weekend and file a warranty claim the next, what are the chances your EDR will rat you out to the manufacturer who then voids your warranty? And who is to say that recording a few seconds of data might not lead to recording a few more seconds, and a few more seconds, until automotive black boxes record and retain information constantly just like the ones on planes? Maybe you weren’t speeding when the officer stopped you, but will your EDR tell him that five miles or five days earlier, you were?

“It all seems to be going toward the idea of tracking people as much as possible so companies can wring as much money as possible out of people,” warns Eric Skrum of the National Motorists Association, a Wisconsin-based drivers’ rights group. “Most people don’t even realize it’s there, and nothing addresses who owns that information.”

OnStar says it, too, is opposed to giving up information from its subscribers, but for purposes of business record-keeping (internal quality and customer complaint follow-up, for instance), the company does retain information from collisions and near-collisions for up to 18 months at a time. Although GPS-enabled, OnStar won’t track down your cheating spouse, but plenty of companies using similar technology will be more than happy to trace your car’s movements—for a fee. And while auto companies and the general public remain as divided as the red and blue states of the U.S. electorate on what information should be recorded by EDRs and who should have access to it, law enforcement, government regulators, insurers and the legal community are already lined up and ready to reach into your car’s internals and retrieve recorded information that eventually could be tougher to challenge than your own DNA.

“The technology is there, and it will do more than we can imagine,” says NMA’s Skrum. “There are no safeguards in place—no protections for the motorist.”

Government regulators obviously have a keen interest in the development and proliferation of data recorders. Though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says automakers are installing EDRs on their own fast enough without any regulations in place, the safety agency has proposed a rule mandating a standard by 2008 for all those voluntarily installed EDRs. The rule proposes that EDRs collect up to 42 points of common data readily downloadable by anyone with the proper equipment, expertise and authority.

The rule is still under review, with adoption a year or more away, but in all likelihood it will go into effect despite public sentiment that so far is running 10-to-1 opposed, judging by public comment on NHTSA’s website.

“You are proposing to spy on citizens of the United States without their consent or knowledge, to collect data that is a potential legal liability for that individual,” commented Rhode Island resident William Bilotti. “This proposal, if carried through, places all Americans on the slippery slope to Orwellian government.”......

......David Sobel, general counsel for the Washington, D.C.-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), worries about the unintended consequences—and abuses—of EDR technology. Today EDRs are collecting data for five seconds, but Sobel doesn’t doubt that “at some point somebody will suggest recording five minutes or more” that could, for instance, allow police to ticket a speeder without ever witnessing the driver actually speeding.

“There are many potential uses of this technology that are yet to be conceived of,” says Sobel.

Bad news for the citizenry, however. Lining up on the other side of the argument are safety advocates, police, crash reconstructionists, insurance companies and black-box manufacturers.

The National Transportation Safety Board called for requiring standardized EDRs in all light-duty vehicles after it was unable to clearly ascertain what happened when an elderly driver plowed through a farmer’s market in Santa Monica, California, last year, killing and injuring scores of people.

NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said public concerns about personal privacy shouldn’t get in the way of providing a valuable tool for accident investigators.......

When it comes to today’s fairly complex Event Data Recorders, you can blame airbags for getting the ball rolling. Back in the mid-1970s General Motors first began installing EDR-precursor SDMs, aka Sensing and Diagnostic Modules, on cars fitted with the earliest airbags. The SDMs recorded post-crash data only—performance of the airbag and the severity of the crash as measured in gs—so that engineers could download the data and use it to make smarter airbags......

.....2000 model year vehicles. Since then the silver boxes built into every GM vehicle have recorded the severity of a crash as measured by change in velocity over time, airbag performance, driver seatbelt status, vehicle speed, throttle position and brake status. Recording begins up to five seconds before a crash, when the module detects a sufficient change in velocity indicating a crash and airbag deployment are imminent, and ends once the crash occurs.....

“We don’t want to record someone’s whole route—we’re focusing on the last few seconds before an accident,” says Holloway. “Granted, some people could use that information [in criminal prosecutions or lawsuits], but that is not our concern.”

Not their concern. So do we do what’s good for the government and let the chips fall on the citizenry? Or are we just being too paranoid when we sense that no one in government wants the bothersome task of protecting our privacy?'......


Read the whole article at the Auto Week site. This is very disturbing.

Auto Week EDR Article

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Old 11-09-2004, 10:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

I don't think it is disturbing at all. Nor does it need to be shut off... I have nothing to hide.
I guess these are in there to make cowards accountable for their actions.
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Old 11-09-2004, 10:11 PM   #3
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

I find the very concept and it's most likely potential uses (abuses) against me sickening and revolting. I also cannot wait for the day when all the I-PASS lemmings start getting speeding tickets in the mail...My wife has one but not me, not unless I can shield it at the second toll booth. The whole idea of someone tapping into a giant database and saying 'Hey you drive like an $$$$$hole, perhaps this recent accident is the result', or 'According to IPASS you get home from work everyday at 5pm, yet you go back out from 6 to 11 pm. DO you have an unreported source of income?????'.
Sure it seems far-fetched, but in NY they said they woulnt turn over "IPASS" data w/o a court order...after that cherry was popped, all they do now is wait for a polelice request now, apparently since the courts said it was ok once, now that data is fair game.....
Innocous little "time saving" technologies creeping into our lives and taking on far more insidious roles....Function creep, coming to disrupt your life before you know it
T

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Old 11-09-2004, 10:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

Yeah, I am with you Ohio, I really don't mind it much. I mean, to a certain extent, I don't want my private life to be public, but this is a computer in a car tracking it's movement and location potenially. What do I have to hide? Nothing. Is it somewhat wierd to have someone call you when you *might* have had an accident? Yes, but consider when it could be good. Consider some back road, 3 a.m., snowy and you drive your car into a ditch and can't move or don't have a cell phone. OnStar hops on the line and asks if you are okay. I am going to bet that most would rather have someone be able to locate you in this event. And in regards to the EDR, it could track "abusive" or "erratic" driving that lead to an accident, or it could record something that failed on the car causing you to crash into that ditch on a cold snowy winter's night. This data record may be able to help put blame on the other driver if THEY were the ones that caused the accident, not necessarily you. You know, this can work for and against you. I suggest we all consider both sides as opposed to always thinking that big brother wants to know our every move...

I am all about privacy, but I won't let paranoia set in just yet. This seems like a sensible technology to me. Until I hear that it would affect me in a bad way, I say i am all for these little gadgets.

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Old 11-09-2004, 10:37 PM   #5
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

Take it one thing at a time. The current event data recorders are only an issue for those who cause accidents and won't fess up. This could be the first step to something more invasive, but this feature in itself isn't bad. If something else in introduced that actually does cause hardship for law-abiding citizens, then we can complain.

I personally like the idea of an EDR. Not that having it in my car will make any difference, cause I don't plan on lying my way out of responsibility for an accident, but more so for the guy that drives recklessly and tries to claim the accident was MY fault.

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Old 11-09-2004, 11:15 PM   #6
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

as for onstar, don't pay your bill they will quit caring about you.

and I swear that's a defective onStar... mine doesn't do that... and i've done many crazy things... I even took it on the police EVOC course, not to mention the tail of the dragon, or even me having it over a hundred mph...

The journalist is overreacting IMHO, the equivilant of "the sky is falling".

If you notice, they never directly quote an answer from an OnStar spokesperson concerning what they claim happened... I'm willing to bet they didn't ask because it didn't happen. Onstar doesn't call for "near" accidents...

I'm sick of the anti-onstar B.S. it disturbs me how much people believe journalists...

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Old 11-09-2004, 11:16 PM   #7
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Thumbs Down Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

The problem is not what "you have to hide" but what, and how much we as a society allow government and quasi-government agencies to "see" into our private lives. It will be interesting to watch the development of these devices. If they continue to ONLY gather a few seconds of info based on some pre set parameters, then we may have nothing to worry about. However, as I suspect will happen, the manufacturers of these devices continue to add features (all in the name of safety of course) then the larger question becomes who "owns" the data. Current laws are SADLY lacking in any real answer. It seems to me that the answer will eventually fall to a constitutional argument. Could turning over the data (without my permission, and perhaps without my knowlege) be self incrimination? OR since driving is a privelege NOT a right, and we do it in a HEAVILY regulated environment, is there any real expectation of privacy on a public street? The Supreme Court will have the final say; eventually. Remember, Governments are VERY fond of trying to save us from ourselves.

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Old 11-09-2004, 11:28 PM   #8
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by spencerb
Take it one thing at a time. The current event data recorders are only an issue for those who cause accidents and won't fess up. This could be the first step to something more invasive, but this feature in itself isn't bad. If something else in introduced that actually does cause hardship for law-abiding citizens, then we can complain.

I personally like the idea of an EDR. Not that having it in my car will make any difference, cause I don't plan on lying my way out of responsibility for an accident, but more so for the guy that drives recklessly and tries to claim the accident was MY fault.
We shall see. Only for those who wont fess up? What if you have bigger wheels or something on there that makes it look like your going to fast or some other bizarre thing? What if that little onstar thinge or black box transmits your speeding habits (dont have any do you?) and you get hit with a nice rate increase. it is ALWAYS innoucous in the beginning and after we start slipping down some BS slope, almost impossible to climb back up..
T

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Old 11-10-2004, 01:01 AM   #9
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 20VUE04
Yeah, I am with you Ohio, I really don't mind it much. I mean, to a certain extent, I don't want my private life to be public, but this is a computer in a car tracking it's movement and location potenially. What do I have to hide? Nothing. Is it somewhat wierd to have someone call you when you *might* have had an accident? Yes, but consider when it could be good. Consider some back road, 3 a.m., snowy and you drive your car into a ditch and can't move or don't have a cell phone. OnStar hops on the line and asks if you are okay. I am going to bet that most would rather have someone be able to locate you in this event. And in regards to the EDR, it could track "abusive" or "erratic" driving that lead to an accident, or it could record something that failed on the car causing you to crash into that ditch on a cold snowy winter's night. This data record may be able to help put blame on the other driver if THEY were the ones that caused the accident, not necessarily you. You know, this can work for and against you. I suggest we all consider both sides as opposed to always thinking that big brother wants to know our every move...

I am all about privacy, but I won't let paranoia set in just yet. This seems like a sensible technology to me. Until I hear that it would affect me in a bad way, I say i am all for these little gadgets.
I mulled this one over....Lets all think about how many people we know that have died in a ditch because they were unable to flag down help. Extrapolate that infinitesmal # vs the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of people we have running around and I can safely guess your odds of needing Onstar to save your butt are roughly equal to your winning the Powerball WHILE you are being struck by lightning. But, if you gets a warm fuzzy feeling from it, then thats fine-for you. I want some options, and I am going to look into this and maybe poke around with an ice pick under the dash
T

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Old 11-10-2004, 07:37 AM   #10
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

Only way to disconect this data holder is to remove air bag computer which will disable the air bags ......Ill stick with the air bags!!!!


If your concerned about this data being used to incriminate you after an automobile accident, just beat the insurance company to the computer....only 7 screws (under the center console between the front seats)

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Old 11-10-2004, 09:37 AM   #11
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

Everyone break out the tinfoil hats, or the government will read your thoughts!

Seriously, the only time I'm heard of these being used against a driver is when some idiot killed some kid doing 100mph on a residential street with a speed limit of 25mph. The box showed he didn't even try to stop and was in fact accelerating when he hit the kid. He said he was only doing 45 and tried to stop but the breaks failed. Riiiight...

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Old 11-10-2004, 09:56 AM   #12
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

I look at it this way. If you pay for onstar then you know this could happen. I don't have onstar, so I could care less. Now if they just put things like this in every vehicle sold, without your knowledge...well that would be different.

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Old 11-10-2004, 10:05 AM   #13
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SaturnVue'03
Now if they just put things like this in every vehicle sold, without your knowledge...well that would be different.
They do. It's part of the computer that controls your airbag. It continuously records what's going on but only saves the data if the airbag goes off. So, if your in an accident and the airbag goes off their is a chip somewhere in your car that has the recording of the last 5-10 seconds. It records basically everyone the computer can detect, so speed, rpms, gear, fuel level, steering input, break, and accelerator (and more I'm sure).

They were originally put in place to make sure the airbags were working properly, but they've recently been used in crash investigation (see my post above). If you have a car with an airbag you 99% have one of these.

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Old 11-10-2004, 10:40 AM   #14
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

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Originally Posted by mhzjnky
They do. It's part of the computer that controls your airbag. It continuously records what's going on but only saves the data if the airbag goes off. So, if your in an accident and the airbag goes off their is a chip somewhere in your car that has the recording of the last 5-10 seconds. It records basically everyone the computer can detect, so speed, rpms, gear, fuel level, steering input, break, and accelerator (and more I'm sure).

They were originally put in place to make sure the airbags were working properly, but they've recently been used in crash investigation (see my post above). If you have a car with an airbag you 99% have one of these.

The car makers do not hide the presence of these systems. It is cleverly detailed in the owner's manual. There is typically a statement that the car's computer is able to monitor and record speed, braking, etc. and then they spin it that it is for the safety of the passengers blah blah blah.

I have no issue with the boxes being in the car. It could be looked at both ways. If the information the box contains can be used against you, you could also use the information against the automaker (my airbags did not deploy and I was travelling 45mph...the information in the box shows that I was fully applying the brakes and the impact force was enough to set off the bags even though they didn't go off, etc.)...

There was a recent article somewhere about a federal investigation in which the federal investigators wanted OnStar to open up the microphone of the OnStar system in the suspect's car so they could listen in on the suspect's conversations. OnStar balked and said that is not what the system is designed for. I do not remember how the article ended (if OnStar was court ordered to open the mic or not).

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Old 11-10-2004, 11:16 AM   #15
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

hypothetical here: If you are in an accident which has been recorded by the ERD, can you remove the ERD and destroy it(if you survive that is)? No data no problem right? Do you have the right to do that?

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Old 11-10-2004, 12:12 PM   #16
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by monantony
I mulled this one over....Lets all think about how many people we know that have died in a ditch because they were unable to flag down help. Extrapolate that infinitesmal # vs the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of people we have running around and I can safely guess your odds of needing Onstar to save your butt are roughly equal to your winning the Powerball WHILE you are being struck by lightning. But, if you gets a warm fuzzy feeling from it, then thats fine-for you. I want some options, and I am going to look into this and maybe poke around with an ice pick under the dash
T
Good Point... I guess I was going a little overboard there. I was simply making an extreme point, but you are right about the number of occurrences. Winning powerball and getting struck by lightning, HAHAHA!

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Old 11-10-2004, 12:20 PM   #17
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by battlema
hypothetical here: If you are in an accident which has been recorded by the ERD, can you remove the ERD and destroy it(if you survive that is)? No data no problem right? Do you have the right to do that?
I think that's considered destroying evidence. You'd have a tough time explaining it at a minimum.

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Old 11-10-2004, 12:43 PM   #18
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2004 VUE 3.5L
Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by spencerb
The current event data recorders are only an issue for those who cause accidents and won't fess up.
Case in point: My wife's cousin Steve was backing out of a parking slot in a mall parking lot when a car, seemingly coming out of nowhere, ran into him. It was not much more than a fender-bender and Steve accepted responsibility, although he thought he was all clear when backing out. A few weeks later, he found he was being sued by the women who hit him. In court, pictures of the massive damage to the plaintiffs car were put forth as evedence -- damage that was not there as a result of the fender-bender crash that happened in that mall parking lot. The lady was a scam artist and Steve was the victim. But she managed to win a 5 figure sum in this case and got away with her scam. This happened over 10 years ago. Had the scam artist's car contained an event data recorder, they would likely have been able to prove that there was something fishy going in in the plaintiffs story in this case.

So as was stated above, if you have nothing to hide -- then, for the most part, an event data recorder can be a good thing and actually help the average citizen. But if I was one who liked to drive my vehicle like a nut, then I might be a little worried having all this information recorded.

What I want though is the ability to download the info to a PC. Being a computer/data processing professional -- I'd just like to see it.

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Old 11-10-2004, 12:52 PM   #19
revue
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

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Originally Posted by mhzjnky
I think that's considered destroying evidence. You'd have a tough time explaining it at a minimum.
How soon till we see this on an episode of CSI?

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Old 11-10-2004, 01:33 PM   #20
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Default Re: "Event Data Recorder" - any way to disable this?

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Originally Posted by battlema
hypothetical here: If you are in an accident which has been recorded by the ERD, can you remove the ERD and destroy it(if you survive that is)? No data no problem right? Do you have the right to do that?
Well, I believe that since you own the vehicle, you own the data. The only way "they" can take that data from you is with a search warrant, or court order. Since it is (so far) not illegal for an individual owner to tamper with his own vehicle, you should be able to remove
/disconnect/destroy any component of it you choose to. Pretty soon it will be illegal to work on or modify your own car, if the legislation continues down the path it seems to be headed down. The EDR and its many uses is only one small step towards the complete loss of the freedom that this country was founded on. (I probably didn't word that exactly right, but I think you know what I'm saying.)

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