The Automotive ‘Black Box Data’ Tipping Point

Since 1996, when automakers first installed ‘black box’ event data recorders (EDRs) in cars and light trucks vehicle owners have had zero means to safeguard access to crash data.

Today, millions of vehicles have EDRs, yet consumer awareness of how they work is very low. Simply put, they collect and store data used for post-crash analysis and evidence in legal cases.

EDRs are seldom mentioned during the vehicle purchase.

The fact that they exist is mandated by federal regulation but they are buried deep in the owner’s manual.

Recently, in Mobley v. The State, a Georgia Supreme Court opinion tipped the balance of essential vehicle security towards vehicle owners.

This 4TH AMENDMENT / EDR case was about law enforcement downloading data without owner knowledge or permission at a crash site.

Mobley prevailed.

However, still lacking is regulation or legislation requiring automakers to provide adequate protections.

Motorist’s wrongfully assume that vehicle cybersecurity issues are somebody else’s problem to solve, maybe the automakers or the insurance companies.

Although Congress asserts in the 2015 Driver Privacy Act that the vehicle owner “owns” EDR crash data they did not require the automakers to safeguard data access.

Vehicle crash data is unsecure.

‘Window of Opportunity’ to tamper EDRs

The ‘window of opportunity’ to tamper EDR data is from the time of the crash to the time that the data is downloaded by an entity recognized by a court.

This time period could be hours, days, weeks, months, etc., while the vehicle is impounded or being repaired.

So, when 20,000 vehicles in America are towed away each day there is no specific time of day / date / location chain-of-custody linking the EDR data to the crashed vehicle.

However, EDR data is frequently used in civil and criminal legal cases.

A solution is to provide motorist’s a product (AUTOCYB) and a nationwide online vehicle crash service to secure data access pre-crash or post-crash.

The AUTOCYB lock is available online and the nationwide crash service is under development to begin in 2022.

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