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Tuesday, April 18, 2017


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Chanson de Roland

Will privacy on autonomous vehicles go as privacy on the Internet went. On the Internet, consumers and their advocates lost the war before they knew they where in a fight. First Amazon begins collecting data on its customers and visitors to its website; Google similarly collected information on its users searches; then there were a few obscure but momentous court decisions which held that consumers/users don't have any property rights in the information that their actions on the Internet create, and then the war was loss, that is, firms and individuals are permitted to collect our personal information, with nothing in the way of assent other than agreements, which are unintelligible to most lay readers and in which they have no bargaining power.

Will it be the same with autonomous vehicles? I fear that it will. The legal precedents that we the people don't own or have any proprietary interest in the information that we create with our goings and comings can be extended from the Internet to autonomous vehicles; and our privacy and our rights in our created information will depend on the DOT, which the autonomous-vehicle industry had already badly compromised under President Obama. So can we expect a more diligent DOT under President Trump? And we, the people, don't seem any more engaged on this than we were about privacy on the Internet. The only cause for slight hope is that advocates for consumers' rights and particularly privacy are in place and are alert to the danger. However, can that possibly be enough?

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