Law in the Internet Society

Privacy and Cars

-- By EmiL - 07 Nov 2016

In the months since first hearing Jerimiah Foster’s presentation on FOSS and the automotive future, I have spent several months thinking and reading about the question, “how should transport be organized in a networked society so as to preserve rights that people have, whether they are ‘drivers’ or ‘passengers’?” This question has led to three threads of thought: (1) the precise contours of what that environment ought to look like (2) my participation in the networked vehicular society, and (3) the tools I have to opt out if I so choose. The focus of this essay will be largely devoted to the first question of how to live and drive privately in the changing automotive world, particularly as it pertains to the emergence of autonomous cars.

A New Language

In an ideal world the development of a new lexicon would be an important first step to delineating people’s rights in a society with networked and autonomous vehicles. For example, the distinction between people as “drivers” versus “passengers” and modes of transport as “public” versus “private” are becoming increasingly estranged from the meanings they had in the mid-twentieth century. If Tesla, Google, and the dozens of others competing in the automated car market have their way, everyone will soon be a passenger. Thus, creating a new language to describe human interactions with vehicles as they become increasingly autonomous would help remind people that the romantic notion of the car as freedom, autonomy and fulfillment of an American ideal; which was at least partially tethered to reality; no longer exists. After all conversation about workers and landowners yields a very different product than a debate about slaves and masters.

Alas, I lack the creativity to even propose what the such a new vocabulary would contain—I only know that words will make no effort to propose the necessary new vocabulary, and I will instead adapt the use the labels of “driver,” “passenger,” “owner,” and “guest” as best as possible.

Concerns of Drivers

Concerns of Passengers

As alluded to before, I believe the ultimate objective of manufacturers and service providers in the future will be to convert everyone into a passenger in either a car they have themselves purchased or that belonging to a service. So whether it is an individually-owned car driven for noncommercial purposes or a vehicle owned by some future version of Uber, the driver has become the computer. And in both instances the concerns of the passenger remain the same—how do I retain control over access and accuracy of the information that I am emitting as I am transported from point A to point B.


Webs Webs

r7 - 22 Feb 2017 - 22:40:00 - EmiL
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