SANTA MONICA, CA – The driverless car law signed this week by Gov. Jerry Brown at a ceremony at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View poses threats to Californians’ safety and privacy, Consumer Watchdog said.
SB 1298 directs the Department of Motor Vehicles to write regulations covering robot cars by January 2015, but the Legislature didn’t require Google to come back for final approval before the driverless cars go from testing stage to the car lot. The law, written by Sen. Alex Padilla, provides no real privacy protections, the nonpartisan, nonprofit group said.
“Substantial safety and liability questions remain,” said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director. “On the privacy issue, the law gives the user no control over what data will be gathered and how the information will be used.”
Consumer Watchdog said that there is little question that driverless car technology will become a reality. The problem is the way the Legislature and Governor rushed to endorse the technology without considering its ramifications.
“What this demonstrates more than anything else is Google’s ability to dazzle and get is way,” said Simpson. “The governor and many legislators have been taken for a ride by Google – and I don’t just mean in the Internet giant’s driverless test vehicles.”
The last time Sacramento moved so quickly on such an extraordinary technological policy shift was over electricity deregulation, which ended with unprecedented massive blackouts engineered by energy pirates like Enron, Consumer Watchdog said.
The time to ensure that the new driverless car technology has the necessary safety and privacy protections is while it is being designed and developed, Consumer Watchdog said. Trying to catch up after a new technology is developed and broadly implemented simply will not work.
“Google has repeatedly demonstrated that it only pays lip service to privacy concerns and repeatedly violated consumers’ privacy,” said Simpson. “Consumers must have the right to give opt-in consent before any data gathered through driverless car technology is used for any purpose other than driving the vehicle.”
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