"My Car, My Privacy" Bill Becomes Law

News Release: 
Thursday, May 14, 2009

Gov. Chris Gregoire today signed into law the "My Car, My Privacy" bill (SB 5574). The ACLU of Washington, a strong supporter of the measure, says its passage moves the state of Washington to the forefront nationally in protecting the privacy rights of vehicle owners.

The bill requires auto manufacturers to notify consumers who purchase vehicles that devices in their car will collect personal information about them. Further, it prohibits individuals and agencies from collecting such personal information without the driver's permission or a court order. The bill also sets limits on sharing the information.

"You shouldn't have to give up your privacy when you're traveling in a car," said Kathleen Taylor, executive director of the ACLU of Washington. "As motorists enjoy the benefits of new technologies, they can now feel secure in knowing that the law safeguards their personal driving information."

Many vehicles feature global positioning systems (GPS) and event data recorders that collect information such as location, speed, steering, brake use, and general driving patterns. Federal law requires car manufacturers to notify customers that their cars contain devices that will record information just prior to a crash. But neither state nor federal law required notification that a car's GPS or hands-free device is recording information. Nor did any law prohibit access to and use of that information.

Sen. Claudia Kaufman was the prime sponsor of SB 5574. Rep. Deb Eddy sponsored a companion bill in the House.