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Ask Slashdot: Will Cars Eventually Need a Do-Not-Track Option? 170

Nerval's Lobster writes "Earlier this month, a very public argument erupted between Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk and New York Times reporter John Broder, who claimed in a Feb. 8 column that his electric-powered Model S sedan had ground to a halt on a lonely stretch of Connecticut highway, starved for power. Musk retaliated by publishing the data from Broder's test drive, which suggested the reporter had driven the vehicle at faster speeds than he had claimed in the article (which would have drained the battery at a quicker rate) and failed to fully charge the car at available stations. Musk seems to have let the whole thing drop, but the whole brouhaha raises a point that perhaps deserves further exploration: the rising use of sensors in cars, and whether an automobile company—or any other entity, for that matter—has the right to take data from those sensors and use it for their own ends without the owner's permission. (For his part, Musk has claimed that Tesla only turns on data logging with 'explicit written permission from customers.') What do you think, Slashdot? Do we need the equivalent of a 'Do-Not-Track' option for cars?"
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Ask Slashdot: Will Cars Eventually Need a Do-Not-Track Option?

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  • Bad analogy (Score:5, Informative)

    by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:15PM (#42983581)
    Given that the "Do-not-track" option is a sad joke that will never protect anyone's privacy, I am going to go with "no." What we need instead is to restore the concept of "privacy" to something normal, routine, and backed by the force of law.
  • by DontScotty ( 978874 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:16PM (#42983589) Homepage Journal

    You have a DO NOT TRACK option, called DO NOT BUY.

    If you buy into the car with sensors, recording, logging, and reporting - then you've really put the gun to your own head and pulled the trigger, eh?

    However, in the United States, driving is a privileged, not a right. Your car's position on public roadways is not private information. When your car wrecks in a suspected criminal manner - even if it is a 1957 Chevy, law enforcement gets to look at it, and record the speedometer reading if it was broken and held in place.

    The more sensors, the more information.

    Get informed, and make an informed decision.

  • by Grayhand ( 2610049 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:17PM (#42983605)
    It's a great topic but a poor example. The car was on loan for testing and a reviewer should not assume they have privacy rights for the obvious reason this story points out that the reviewer lied in the reviewer and was caught by the black box and it wasn't their car. Now if the reviewer had purchased the car things might have been different. Personally I dislike black boxes and we should always assume they are turned on since it can be done without our permission. An example being the police.
  • Nissan's approach (Score:5, Informative)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Friday February 22, 2013 @04:27PM (#42983725) Homepage Journal

    My Nissan LEAF also tracks all your driving. Nissan's solution to the question of privacy is to pop a dialog on the in-dash touchscreen every time the car is started, asking you if you want to send your data to them. Unless you press "Yes", that drive is not tracked.

    People actually exploit this to game the driving efficiency rankings. Hop in, hit "No", drive to the top of a hill, then turn the car off and on, hit "Yes" and coast to the bottom of the hill. Do that a little and you can look like you regularly achieve 20+ miles per kWh.

  • Re:weird analogy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Man On Pink Corner ( 1089867 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:21PM (#42984499)

    There should already be a default inability to track your car based on the same logic that I'm not allowed to place a bug on your car and track you now

    Exactly. However, this was Tesla's car all along, so they were perfectly free to track it. The NYT did not own the car.

    Article is pointless clickbait. No one is arguing that they should be able to track your car, only their car.

  • Re:Bad analogy (Score:4, Informative)

    by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:38PM (#42984729) Homepage

    Hey now, if the FBI can track you [] legally without a warrant, why should the car companies not have that power? (Yes, I know that SCOTUS took a similar case, but all they had to say about it was that the FBI couldn't trespass onto your property to install the device. If you, say, park your car on the street, it's fair game.)

  • by Ichijo ( 607641 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:43PM (#42984809) Journal

    Thos heavy trucks aren't being driven for fun; they're bringing goods to market that we all collectively buy.

    And as long as we continue to distort the market for freight transport by heavily subsidizing the trucking industry [], those trucks will continue to tear up our roads (literally) and contribute to traffic congestion when much of their cargo should instead go by rail which causes much less of a problem.

    I should also add that trains are three times as fuel-efficient as trucks, which means they create one-third as much air pollution. Air pollution costs us up to $1,600 per person annually. []

    We would all save a lot of money if the trucking industry pulled its own weight, so to speak.

  • Re:weird analogy (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:54PM (#42984967)

    As a reader of Slashdot, you should probably learn that the difference between opt-in and opt-out is more than just semantics.
    They are not simply opposites of each other.

    The difference in meaning between any two words (or phrases, sentences, symbols etc.) is a matter of semantics. What else could it be?

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351