Via the excellent lawbloggers at The Volokh Conspiracy comes news of a decision by a California appellate court in re: State vs Xinos which finds that the data recorded by a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder or “black box” is protected by the fourth amendment. The ruling covered a case in which police used EDR data to charge the driver in a fatal crash of vehicular manslaughter, and under appeal, the ruling was handed down that
We do not accept the Attorney General’s argument that defendant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the data contained in his vehicle’s SDM. The precision data recorded by the SDM was generated by his own vehicle for its systems operations. While a person’s driving on public roads is observable, that highly precise, digital data is not being exposed to public view or being conveyed to anyone else. . . . We conclude that a motorist’s subjective and reasonable expectation of privacy with regard to her or his own vehicle encompasses the digital data held in the vehicle’s SDM.
And, according to Volokh
the computer data is in the car, not outside the car, so the legal standard that governs access to the data probable cause but not a warrant
Given trends towards ever more storage of vehicle telemetry data, this is a heartening development for motorists and privacy activists… but don’t be surprised if the issue ends up in the Supreme Court. [Hat Tip: TTAC commenter fincar]