Thursday, June 27, 2019

My Vehicle Bears No Witness Against Me. Cars Testifying Against Owners.

Recently, I was having a conversation with someone who was concerned with privacy rights in the modern age, given the fact that our automobiles store information about our traveled locations.  Stored vehicle information which could be collected later to verify exactly where our vehicle was located at any given time - though some cars might offer the ability to stop/turn-off the collecting of such information.  So, anyway, what about when our cars and trucks become self-tracking devices and/or self-spying?

The matter reminds me of the famous criminal-procedure court case.  In that case, we were supposedly taught and it was determined/opined to be unconstitutional for a government entity to attach a tracking-device to individual’s vehicle/car in the United States.  At least the government was not allowed to do so for an indefinite period of time, regardless of any reality of the matter; with pre-Patriot Act days and the Patriot Act notwithstanding maybe, I’m sure.  But what about when all the cars and trucks become commonplace tracking devices?

The modern high-tech automobiles may have much in common with the modern-era cell phones and the related privacy rights thereto - in that anyone who is able to listen to those conversations and who is able to glean that information is arguably allowed to do so or likely can do so regardless (as if the generator/speaker of any such eavesdropped information would even be aware of the eavesdropping).  So, if one’s vehicle was collecting or broadcasting its location, then such information is likely to be determined to “non-testimonial” in nature anyhow and that collected information could then be used against the vehicle’s owner/driver (say, as evidence in a court of law for whatever the reason). 

In other words, not only are our vehicles collecting information that could be used against us in court - if such a situation ever became relevant, it is unlikely that any currently recognized legal theory would prevent one’s own vehicle from testifying against them – as things currently stand.  But then again, who knows what the future might hold.  Except to say, that I am in no hurry to purchase any new car.   

My vehicle can bear no witness against me in a court of law, as it is an older model (with no built-in GPS or the like).  That is to say, my vehicle stores no electronic data which could be used against me and to my detriment at any future point in time.  (Forgoing the authenticity of vehicle-collected information for this blog entry, of course; e.g.: calibration issues, etc.)  Anyway, other than the typical unseemliness of being seen or leaving behind physical evidence, should such ever become an issue, there is no stored information in my vehicle of its exact comings and goings nor its instantaneous real-time locations.  And, I think I like the fact that my car could not become a high-tech witness against me. 

June 2019

See for instance:
How your car is spying on you | Daily Mail Online

Your car is watching you. Who owns the data? - Roll Call

Your car may be invading your privacy - USA Today

In China, your car may be spying on you for the government

Big Brother on wheels: Why your car company may know more about you than your spouse