SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on California Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla to restore key privacy protections to her bill (AB 1592) that would allow self-driving shuttle buses to be tested on California roads without human drivers.
“It’s outrageous that you would capitulate to robot carmakers and surrender consumer privacy protections without a discussion or a fight. We urge you to reconsider,” wrote Jamie Court, Consumer Watchdog President and John M. Simpson, the group’s Privacy Project director, in a letter to the assemblywoman.
Initially recognizing the substantial privacy concerns about the data gathered by self-driving vehicles, Bonilla made a crucial amendment strongly supported by Consumer Watchdog as AB 1592 made its way through Senate committees that would have limited collection of the data for use of the operation of the vehicle only. This is a critical model for all driverless vehicles, and one the industry dislikes because it would prevent driverless vehicles from becoming commercial surveillance devices, Consumer Watchdog said.
“Unexpectedly and with no discussion with Consumer Watchdog you have amended the bill and totally gutted any privacy protections that had been added,” Consumer Watchdog’s letter said.
Read Consumer Watchdog’s letter here: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrbonilla080416aug.pdf
The letter said that Bonilla had an opportunity to set a meaningful privacy standard in the pilot project planned by the Contra Costa Transit Authority that could have served as a model as self-driving robot cars are developed in California and throughout the nation. Consumer Watchdog said that while self-driving robot cars are not yet available to the general public, it is critical that policymakers deal with the issues the vehicles raise before the robot cars are widely deployed.
“You seemed to understand that and to be acting accordingly when you offered the crucial privacy amendment Consumer Watchdog strongly supported,” the letter said. “However, instead of following through, you have apparently succumbed to the pressure of robot car developers like Google, who want to gather as much personal information about us as they can and use it however they see fit.”
“If you care at all about consumers’ privacy rights you must withdraw AB 1592 or amend it to restore the vital privacy protective language that you had added earlier,” the letter concluded.
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