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Europe plots black boxes for cars

Project Veronica not a privacy problem

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The European Commission's study into feasibility of fitting black box recorders to cars to record 20 types of data in case of accidents looks set to recommend the devices are fitted to all European cars.

Project Veronica, which began in 2003 and cost £2.4m, has dismissed privacy concerns because the boxes only record data in the event of an accident. The boxes will be triggered by sudden deceleration and will only record movement in the 30 seconds prior to an accident, and a few seconds afterwards.

The Commission hopes the boxes will have an impact on road safety by improving accident reconstruction, as well as helping police and insurance companies.

The project team said there were no data privacy problems because the boxes do not continuously monitor cars and do not contain other personal information. They will however need a secure download path so that the data contained may be used in court.

Similar boxes are used by managers of fleet vehicles and police forces, with dramatic improvements in accidents. The Metropolitan Police saved £2m in accident damages after installing the boxes, reports the Times. The boxes cost about £500 and are the size of a pack of cards.

The project also notes "congruencies" between boxes and eCall - a plan to fit an emergency beacon to every vehicle in Europe which would alert emergency services in the event of a crash.

The Project Veronica website is here. ®

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