'Black box' for cars raises questions about privacy issues

What others say

Posted: Monday, December 04, 2000

'Black box' for cars raises questions about privacy issues

How much is enough, and how much is too much, when it comes to knowledge about crashes?

It depends on who uses that knowledge -- and what for. And that's what's causing the flap over new data-collection devices being installed by General Motors in the cars it manufactures.

GM has installed devices in hundreds of thousands of its cars that collect data when a car crashes, much like the ''black box'' on an airliner that is used to look for clues after a plane crash.

Doctors, engineers and government officials say the information collected by GM's device can help them to better understand how the human body tolerates car crashes. They also want to use the information to help build safer cars, improve the treatment of crash victims and write government auto safety standards to better protect passengers in auto accidents.

But a privately owned car is not an airliner, and the black box in a car is part of the car, and thus is the property of the car owner. That raises an obvious question. Is there a privacy question concerning the contents of that black box, and could information in the device be demanded by a plaintiff's lawyer and used in a lawsuit against the car owner? ...

-- American Press, Lake Charles, La.

Nov. 27

Ski case verdict marks return to responsibility

A Colorado jury (recently) ,,, convicted 21-year-old Nathan Hall of manslaughter for a fatal 1997 collision on the slopes of Vail. It marks the first-ever jury conviction in Colorado for manslaughter based on reckless skiing. Perhaps more important, however, the case marks a turn toward personal responsibility.

Hall was skiing too fast under poor conditions when he slammed into Alan Cobb, 33, who died of massive head injuries. He could be sentenced to as many as six years in prison.

Skiing collisions traditionally have not resulted in prosecution, but attitudes clearly have changed. It's a most welcome change.

While many sports involve a degree of risk, the existence of risk should not give license to anyone to behave so recklessly that a mishap is likely to harm others. When participants in any sport harm others as a result of recklessness, they must bear the full consequences of their actions.

It is a crime to recklessly harm another person with a hunting weapon and a car. A pair of skis should be treated no differently.

-- The (Tiffin, Ohio) Advertiser-Tribune

Nov. 27

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