A Black Box in Every Car – To Make You Safer
By Staff News & Analysis - February 12, 2013

Feds Set To Mandate "Black Box" Data Recorders In Every Car And Truck … Privacy advocates worry, but technology has caught bad drivers lying about accident causes … Accident investigators will soon have black-box data from all crashes, because of a new rule set to be finalized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration … Many motorists don't know it, but it's likely that every time they get behind the wheel, there's a snitch along for the ride. … This week ended the public comment period on a proposed law that would put so-called black boxes in every new car sold by September 1, 2014. The thing is, most cars already have them unbeknownst to many drivers. – AP

Dominant Social Theme: The government intends to make you safer, and there's nothing you can do about it.

Free-Market Analysis: We've known this was coming but we are still surprised that the plans proceed – and that the rationale remains the same.

What articles like this show clearly is that wire services like AP are content with sticking with a general theme that governments are "here to help" and that the intrusiveness of government and demolition of privacy is less important than saving lives.

A subdominant social theme would be that industry and government working together can make a difference. But this, in fact, is an invitation to more authoritarianism rather than less.

Private public partnerships are always going to yield to mercantilism in which government is used by some powerful private powers to advance their agendas over others.

In this case, the private party is, generally speaking, a tiny power elite that wants to implement world government and is continually launching initiatives to generate the required result.

The middle class is usually targeted, as they stand in the way of the kinds of society-reshaping that elites desire. For this reason, middle class behavior often comes under attack, with the powers-that-be seeking to control it in order to further extend dominance over society. This obviously involves transportation, as well. Here's more from the article:

Automakers have been quietly tucking the devices, which automatically record the actions of drivers and the responses of their vehicles in a continuous information loop, into most new cars for years.

When a car is involved in a crash or when its airbags deploy, inputs from the vehicle's sensors during the 5 to 10 seconds before impact are automatically preserved. That's usually enough to record things like how fast the car was traveling and whether the driver applied the brake, was steering erratically or had a seat belt on. This data has been used recently, for example, to determine what was happening in cars before accidents when some Toyota owners were claiming their cars were accelerating out of control as they were driving.

The idea behind mandating black box data recorders is to gather information that can help investigators determine the causes of accidents and lead to safer vehicles. But privacy advocates say government regulators and automakers are spreading an intrusive technology without first putting in place policies to prevent misuse of the information collected.

… There's no opt-out. It's extremely difficult for car owners to disable the recorders. Although some vehicle models have had recorders since the early 1990s, a federal requirement that automakers disclose their existence in owner's manuals didn't go into effect until three months ago. Automakers that voluntarily put recorders in vehicles are also now required to gather a minimum of 15 types of data.

Besides the upcoming proposal to put recorders in all new vehicles, the traffic safety administration is also considering expanding the data requirement to include as many as 30 additional types of data … "Right now we're in an environment where there are no rules, there are no limits, there are no consequences and there is no transparency," said Lillie Coney, associate director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy advocacy group. "Most people who are operating a motor vehicle have no idea this technology is integrated into their vehicle."

In the modern era, especially, Western governments have become far more intrusive about monitoring citizen actions. What "good government" types constantly offer as the solution is "transparency." But it is questionable in an increasingly authoritarian regime how much good transparency can do if the citizen has no real power to alleviate a miscarriage of justice.

Transparency is, in fact, being floated by top elites themselves as an antidote to government abuses. A top executive formerly with the World Bank heads the leading, global, good-government "transparency" organization. It is questionable how much good government transparency really will do when it comes to reining in government privacy abuses. More than that, the larger conversation is based on incorrect assumptions.

Western governments, and especially the US government, are assumed to be implementing various programs to "save lives." But when one looks at the US, for instance, what stands out most glaringly is the criminal justice system and its associated military-industrial complex.

The US is damaging entire generations with its incarceration policies that include over six million citizens at any one time. Entire generations grow up crippled as a result of an absent parent or a shattered family and the resultant lack of income.

Abroad, the US military seems to be employed primarily at the behest of a power elite that is continually using force to centralize various regions and nation-states. Within this context, we would submit that the real reason to place black boxes in cars is to further track and constrain individual citizens and has little to do with "safety concerns."

We've made the same point about electric cars that Western governments are relentlessly promoting. In fact, electric cars surely do not have a lesser impact on the environment just because they plug in at night. However, what is doubtless appealing to those who seek to control middle-class access to transportation is that such cars tend (currently anyway) to have fairly restricted speeds and travel capacities.

After Thoughts

Given the vastness of the US government's attempt to track and obtain data on its citizens – and citizens outside the country, as well – the idea that these black boxes are being installed simply to create a safer driving environment seems doubtful at best.