Witness for the prosecution:the car
Example: A driver is using a carsharing vehicle and has an accident in which they injure another road user, and they find themselves in court. The prosecution witness turns out to be the car which was gathering data during the whole journey. This scenario is no far-fetched fantasy. The so-called event data recorders (“EDR”) in modern cars are already gathering data. Their use is contentious.
The first debatable point is whether such data may be collected in the first place. Legal experts assume that drivers will have to give their consent. For example, anyone who insures their private car at a so-called telematics rate where a considerate driving style is rewarded with favourable premiums, is clearly consenting to the collection of data. But what about the user of a carsharing vehicle that may be collecting data on the journey? Does the mere use of the car equate to a declaration of consent?
Secondly: Can such data be used in the event of a court case? “The State has great authority in the area of law enforcement, and one would have to assume that seizing data for a prosecution would be largely uncomplicated”, says criminal law expert, Eric Hilgendorf from the University of Würzburg. But here too there is another side to the argument: nobody is obliged to incriminate themselves in court. Is the use of one’s own data not a kind of “self-incrimination”?
Who will reveal their data?
Who is prepared to reveal their data anyway? 26 to 27 percent of car drivers are prepared to do so if they receive something in return. This has been established by a study conducted by the consultants SAS. This matches a forecast made by management consultants Roland Berger that estimates that in the coming 15 years, 20 to 25 percent of cars will be insured at a telematics rate. A complex situation, in other words, that demands legislation. The European Union intends to introduce a Bill to regulate data collected by cars by April 2017. Exactly one year later, by the way, every new vehicle will have to be equipped with an automatic emergency system. Even more data will be generated as a result.