Insurer's In-Car Data-Gathering Program Sparks Concern

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Progressive Corp. will begin testing a program this week to track the frequency and length of drivers' trips, as well as how fast they drive. The pilot program will take place in Minnesota and will supply volunteers with electronic devices to be installed in cars. The concept is similar to the black box that can be found in airplanes, which record flight data and conversations. Some car manufacturers already build in data recording equipment into vehicles, to monitor crash information.

Volunteers to the program will receive a guaranteed auto-insurance discount of 5 percent.
The insurance company has made no indication that it will take the program nationwide, and so far has indicated that it will not share information gathered with others. Drivers in the program, however, do have the ability to view the information recorded before it is shared with Progressive.

Concerns have been raised over a possible invasion of privacy the program could create, despite a recommendation earlier in the month by the National Transportation Safety Board to have black boxes installed in all new cars. The article reported that some critics fear that law enforcement could summon the information from tracking programs such as this to use during investigations or civil lawsuits.

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