Car computer helps land conviction

An article from Newhouse News Service is reporting that a recent case involving speeding and vehicular manslaughter was won by the State of Florida with the help of the Electronic Data Recorder (EDR) in the perpetrator's car.

Based on the fact that accident investigators believed the care was going at least 98 miles per hour (as opposed to the then-defendents claim that he was going 60), the findings from the computer that he was going 114 probably wasn't crucial to the case.

But, it does bring to mind the privacy issues surrounding the data-keeping nature of today's devices. Not that I'm advocating running down children in a 30 MPH zone while going 114, but this case could have been made (rather handedly) with the forensic evidence from the accident investgators without using the EDR.

As posed last week, the real question is how much of our performance monitoring equipment (EDRs are placed in cars to watch the performance of air bags, but similar recording devices exist for engine performance) will be fair game for authorities to use when prosecuting cases.

Should they be able to come back three weeks later and tell use that we were exceeding the speed limit and thus owe a fine?

As I commented last week, as information becomes more available and retrievable, we are going to have to reexamine how much of our lives should be snooped on by both criminal and civil courts, and how these changes in information availability might precipitate changes in both society and the laws that govern it.