Why am I so interested in issues of data privacy and data security? I think this story about “black boxes” in Toyota cars illustrates it well. In short, Toyota cars have airplane-like black boxes in many of their cars that can track data like speed, whether the airbags deployed, and so forth. However, the data is stored in a proprietary format, and only Toyota can access it; they only do so when requested by law enforcement. I am interested in security and privacy precisely because I want to see the end to what I consider to be horrible practices like this.
I don’t think it’s horrible because black boxes shouldn’t exist, or that they infringe upon privacy. On the contrary: my major problem with this is that it is far too private: only Toyota has access to the data, despite the fact that the owner of the car paid for the black box and the driver of the car is the one generating that data. Toyota should not store this data in a proprietary format that only Toyota has access to, and only when Toyota wants to divulge the information. The owner of the vehicle should have full access to the data at all times and should be able to control it.
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