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This is what we have in our LX's. Does anyone know how much and how long the data is stored, and how to delete it? Here's an article about the boxes.

The Spy Under the Hood
By THANE PETERSON




Few car owners know of the data-collection devices in their vehicles. While valuable research tools, they may also be threats to privacy.


If you're like most people, you don't know there is a device in your vehicle that, in the event of an accident, stores information about such things as speed, throttle position, braking, and airbag deployment. It can even tell if seatbelts were buckled.


Two-thirds of the new cars sold in the U.S. and some 30 million vehicles already on the road contain such devices, officially known as event data recorders. Information from the black boxes can be critical evidence in criminal cases and lawsuits, helping convict speeders and drunk drivers and exonerate the falsely accused. The auto and insurance industries also believe such data-tracking could be invaluable in improving traffic laws and designing safer vehicles.


NEW LAWS. But collecting such data opens up a minefield of privacy issues, say privacy advocates. John Soma, a law professor and executive director of the Privacy Foundation at the University of Denver, fears an Orwellian 1984 scenario could develop if consumers aren't better informed about the boxes and the kind and availability of the information collected.


State governments are stepping in to try to prevent misuse of black-box information. California, North Dakota, and Arkansas have already passed laws regulating use of data from auto black boxes, and legislatures in a number of other states -- including New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Texas -- are considering similar rules.

In general, the new state laws greatly restrict access to the data without a court order or authorization from the car's owner or operator. The Arkansas law, which takes effect Aug. 1, specifically grants ownership of the data to the owner, renter, or lessor of the car -- even if, say, the car is totaled after an accident and becomes the property of an insurance company.


"I didn't want some poor soul to have an accident and have this information used against him without his even knowing it was there," says Arkansas State Senator Jimmy Jeffress (D), who pushed the bill through.


DATA LOOP. The insurance and auto industries believe they can easily accommodate the concerns of privacy advocates. For one thing, black boxes are set up to store a tiny amount of information. "It's important for people to understand that they don't record conversations or information on where you are driving or anything like that," says Alan Adler, a General Motors (GM ) spokesman.


Typically, the devices record data about things like auto speed and airbag status in a loop that is constantly erased -- 5 seconds to 10 seconds worth of information is permanently stored only if an airbag deployment or rapid braking indicates that an accident may have occurred. Indeed, when it comes to airbags and seatbelts, Ford's (F ) system only records one-tenth of a second's worth of data before and after an accident.


Auto and insurance industry spokesmen say they have no problems with car owners or operators owning the data in the boxes, as long as it can be subpoenaed after an accident, like any other evidence. "Our position is that it's the customer's data," says Ford spokesman Dan Jarvis.

MYSTERY BOX. However, insurance companies also want to ensure that information from the boxes be made available to researchers so it can be used to improve traffic safety and automobile design. David Snyder, vice-president and general counsel at the American Insurance Assn., suggests that a federal agency such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration be allowed to collect the data -- stripped of anything that would identify specific individuals -- so it can be pooled in a database for use by safety researchers. "There's a huge potential public safety benefit to be derived from the data," Snyder says.


Privacy advocates contend that companies and the government could be doing much more to protect the rights of consumers. For instance, one reason most people don't know about the black boxes is that information about them is usually only disclosed in automobile owners manuals -- which few car-owners ever bother to read.


Arkansas' new law goes a step further by requiring the seller of any car to provide the buyer with a certificate disclosing the existence of the black box in the car. Some critics of the systems even suggest that black boxes should come with a cut-off switch like airbags, so owners could turn off the boxes if they wanted to -- an idea strongly opposed by insurance companies because it might significantly limit the amount of data collected. Such a requirement would also pose problems for some manufacturers. The black box in GM cars can't be turned off without disabling the airbag, for instance.


WHERE WILL IT STOP? What most worries privacy experts is the potential for abuse of black boxes as technology evolves. "Once your start collecting information, there's always an impulse to collect more and more," says David Fraser, head of the privacy practice at the law firm of McInnes Cooper in Canada, where privacy laws are stricter than in the U.S.


For instance, auto black boxes could easily be made far more elaborate by tying them into, say, in-car navigation or cell-phone systems. Indeed, long-haul trucking companies now routinely use sophisticated black boxes to monitor their drivers' driving habits in great detail.


Some insurance companies have run experiments in which they offer rate reductions to customers who agree to have their driving habits monitored by advanced black boxes -- leading to concerns the companies could structure rates to punish customers who don't agree to let their cars be monitored. California and New York have already passed laws prohibiting insurance companies from using black boxes in that way.


LEGAL "HODGEPODGE." Companies say they have no intention of making the boxes much more elaborate. "We're sensitive to privacy concerns," Snyder says, adding that "it might lead to a huge reaction from privacy advocates and the general public."


But Jeffress predicts that before long, the federal government will have to step in with a national data privacy law governing auto black boxes and other similar data-collection devices. "Otherwise, we're just going to have a hodgepodge of state rules," he says. And that won't serve the interests of either business or the public.
 

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This Black Box is now on many cars and to date no one on the forums has found it much less figured a way to disable it. There is at least one thread I think "Big Brother" from last Summer or Fall, info only but no solutions. Scary stuff. You should print your post and email and hard copy to your Reps in Washington, call them and let the secretary know you are sending an imporatant email, ask to speak with one of the aids if not the Rep himself.
 

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Our black box is called an "Event Data Recorder" and it makes a record up to two seconds of numerous items in the event of air bag deployment. There is some info on it in the owner's manual on pages 48-50.

I seem to remember it is under the passenger, front seat. I also seem to remember from one of Wes' threads that he had it removed and the car was operating fine.....I'm not sure about that last thing though, there might have been a stipulation such as he was just repoisitioning it around his shop, not actual driving.
 
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