Privacy on the Road: The Price we Pay for Peace of Mind
In just a few short years, dashcams have come a long way.
An article by All China Tech on the GoLuk dashcam outlined three other ways to use dashcams besides as an emergency accident auto-recorder.
First, the ability of dashcams to save short videos with a single press of a button allows it to act like an effective monitor, the recordings of which might influence the public’s behavior towards being more beneficial to others. Second, dashcams are now social—the GoLuk’s 360-degree rotatable structure, for instance, can be used to turn the dashcam back into the car’s interior and capture a live-stream. Lastly, dashcams have been catching up to other compact cameras with its capacity for outdoor activities. What used to be a fixture on your dashboard could now be attached to a smart holder, providing even non-drivers with the access to the camera’s features, including the 1080P night vision on the GoLuk.
With its growing use as a social camera, dashcams have begun to fully integrate into the Internet of Things, joining a host of other smart devices that have been influencing people’s attitudes even off the road—but especially on it.
In the logistics industry, where there is rapid development of such technologies, drivers and managers alike have proven that the use of connected devices on the road results not only in increased efficiency, but also safety. An article by telematics solutions provider Telogis points out how the mere presence of devices monitoring the movement of vehicles within a company’s fleet strongly influences driver behavior. They’ve observed that drivers are more likely to drive carefully and to avoid distractions in the presence of a stream of real-time data about their behavior on the roads.
Alarming issues have emerged in the past about the implications of the use of dashcams on the privacy of road users. Its benefits clearly outweigh the cost of losing a little bit of privacy; besides, roads are, after all, public spaces. Dashcams have made it easier for drivers, car owners, and insurance companies to settle disputes following accidents both big and small. But its greater benefit lies in the way it frees people up from worries, enabling them to enjoy a little more peace of mind when doing one of the most dangerous things that they do everyday. Its introduction into the IoT, however, takes us, once again, into uncharted territory.
What happens when data captured using these ubiquitous cameras becomes accessible to everyone everywhere, in real time. This question emerges following hints given by Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, about developing a “real-time map” using dashboard cameras. An article by WIRED magazine dissects his idea about streaming real-time video from the dashcams that he plans to give away for free—in exchange for all that data. The difficulty here likely lies in how road users would have much less control over which information they share and when.
This would be different from how this information is currently shared and used. In logistics, managers and drivers at least have an agreement over the monitoring, and in the use of dashcams for social media, users could at least decide what and when to share their streams, and more importantly, with whom they want to share it.
Similar efforts have been executed in the past, with the likes of Google Street View taking images of streets on the ground and keeping a record of these that for everyone’s access. It’s easy to imagine how Rubin’s idea would come to fruition at one point or another, and indeed become just as common.
Driving.CA outlined this is still a complicated challenge that everyone now faces – a tightrope walk, over road safety and privacy. This phenomenon, inevitable as it is as far as technological innovations go, invite us to ponder upon the reasonable extent to which we can expect privacy out there in the public eye.
“Never mind the written rules of the road,” the article emphasizes. “There’s a binding social contract that we behave in a manner that doesn’t endanger our fellow travellers, that we do what we can to be good citizens.”
Exclusively written for Goluk Dashcam