Not So Fast: Group Seeks to Block Google's Driverless Cars on U.S. Highways

By Trevor Dorchies | May 30, 2012
If Consumer Watchdog has its way, Google's driverless cars will not be permitted on highways in the United States until proper privacy protection for users of said new technology has been implemented. Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group, has also asked that the California Assembly defeat bill SB 1289 unless it's amended to protect users and their privacy from the new technology. The bill would allow Google's driverless cars onto California roads. The group sent a letter to Assembly Speaker John A. Perez and was addressed from Jaime Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, along with John M. Simpson, the group's Privacy Project Director. We’ve included some highlights from the letter for your viewing pleasure below and you can also view the letter in its entirety in PDF form too. "Consumers enthusiastically adopted the new technology of the Internet. What we were not told was that our use of the Information Superhighway would be monitored and tracked in order to personalize corporate marketing and make Google a fortune," the letter said. "Now that Google is taking to the freeways, we must prevent inappropriate collection and storage of data about our personal movements and environment before we allow Google's robots to take to the roads and report back to the Googleplex." "The California Senate passed SB 1298 unanimously. It is now under consideration by the Assembly." The letter continues to state the following: "Google claims its mission is to organize the world's information and make it accessible. However, when it comes to its operations and plans it is a black box. We believe Google's actions demonstrate that it cannot be taken at its word. Consider the Wi-Spy scandal, the largest wiretapping effort ever, in which Google's Street View cars sucked up emails, passwords and other data from private Wi-Fi networks in 30 countries around the world... Google kept changing its story and still has not come clean. The FCC fined the company $25,000 for obstructing its investigation of the incident. Google initially said the wire-tapping was the job of a rogue engineer but the FCC has found that, in fact, the company was well aware of the ongoing Wi-Spying activity." Consumer Watchdog said that Internet technology was implemented with little regard to protecting users' privacy. The group said society is playing catch-up for the failure to protect privacy. For instance, the Federal Trade Commission has called for the implementation of a Do Not Track system that would allow consumers to let websites know that they do not want data about their web surfing to be gathered. "Driverless technology is not commercially viable yet, but we are certain it will be available sooner than most of us would predict. SB 1298 endorses Google's driverless technology and allows its fleet of robot-driven cars to travel on California's roads. Sadly, the bill provides no privacy protection for the users of the coming technology. The bill should be amended to ban all data collection by autonomous cars. While we don't propose to limit the ability of the cars to function by communicating as necessary with satellites and other devices, the collection and retention of data for marketing and other purposes should be banned. Unless the bill is amended, once again society will be forced to play catch-up in dealing with the impact of the privacy invading aspects of a new technology." What say you? Should legislators defeat this bill for Google's driverless cars? Would you feel safe on the road surrounded by driverless cars? Tell us what you think in the comment section below. Source: Market Watch
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Steven Paul
Steven Paul

Very good question Lance.. I sure hope that those challenged with getting around get to try these out soon too... Of course I can see some major challenges with the learning curve as most of the blind count footsteps and curbs to know where they are which this machine might throw them off a bit for a short while.

St Louis Auto Inspectors
St Louis Auto Inspectors

The self driving car has long been awaited and questioned in our society if it would ever work with the other drivers on the roads.. Google has set out to prove that it would work.. This consumer watchdog group is obviously just against anything that Google sets out to do whether it is awesome technology like the Driverless Car or a Google Plus Page. What Consumer Watchdog needs to be more concerned with is what our government is doing, how they are making more and more regulations that take away our freedoms and how they can now track our ever location using our 911 locators on our cell phones which are all mandatory now...

lance bennett
lance bennett

when will these driverless cars be ready? and will people like handicap people get to try them first i know i read of a blind man who got to try one out

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