Free Markets, Free People


Congress to mandate “black box” on all cars after 2015?

Yesterday I pointed to a piece of legislation that is in the House right now (after being passed by the Senate) which would give the IRS the power to confiscate your passport without judicial review and merely on the suspicion you owe a certain amount of back taxes.

Given the Orwellian name Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act or MAP-21,  the legislation also mandates that all new cars have a “event data recorder” installed starting in 2015.

Now other than for government use, there are very few reasons why an owner of a vehicle would want such a device installed in his or her car.

The only reason an owner might want one was in case of an accident, it may provide some proof of their innocence in terms of fault.  But we’ve become quite sophisticated in accident investigation already and seem quite capable of determining that now without the aid of an onboard “event data recorder”.

Section 31406 of Senate Bill 1813 (known as MAP-21), calls for “Mandatory Event Data Recorders” to be installed in all new automobiles and legislates for civil penalties to be imposed against individuals for failing to do so.

“Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall revise part 563 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, to require, beginning with model year 2015, that new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States be equipped with an event data recorder that meets the requirements under that part,” states the bill.


Although the text of legislation states that such data would remain the property of the owner of the vehicle, the government would have the power to access it in a number of circumstances, including by court order, if the owner consents to make it available, and pursuant to an investigation or inspection conducted by the Secretary of Transportation.

And, one would assume, government access to such data would be expanded as government found additional reasons to want it.  Not to mention the addition of new “recording” devices or the like which might be even more intrusive in the future (if they manage to get away with this).  Like imposing a road use tax.  How handy would such a device be to government then?

This sort of government intrusion bothers the heck out of me.  Never mind that this mandate (along with new CAFÉ standards) will increase the cost of a new car, the real point is this is being done as something government desires, not the individual.  There’s no hew and cry or demand for such a device now.  This serves one constituency and one constituency only – government.

Additionally, it isn’t optional.  You have no choice but to pay for one if you buy a new car.  And you will most likely be prosecuted if you disable it.

These are the sorts of intrusions citizens ought to be fighting tooth and nail.  It isn’t the job of government to mandate recording devices on private vehicles.  If they want to have them installed on their vehicle fleets, that’s fine.

But not mine.  Not without my consent and damn sure not as a mandate with legal consequences for non-compliance.

There are now two reasons MAP-21 should be shot down in the House.


Twitter: @McQandO