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[Slashdot] - Infrastructure Bill's Drunk Driving Tech Mandate Leaves Some Privacy Advocates Nervous


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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: The recently passed $1 trillion infrastructure package is jam-packed with initiatives but sprinkled in there alongside $17 billion in funding for road safety programs is a mandate requiring carmakers to implement monitoring systems to identify and stop drunk drivers. The mandate, first noted by the Associated Press could apply to new vehicles sold as early as 2026. Courts have ordered some drunk drivers to use breathalyzers attached to ignition interlocks to start their vehicles for years, but the technology noted in this bill would take that concept much further and would need to be capable of "passively monitor[ing] the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired." Though the Department of Transportation has yet to put its foot down on the exact type of technology it will use for this program, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and 17 automakers have been working on something called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) since 2008. DADSS is exploring both a breath and touch-based system to detect whether or not a driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08%. The breath-based system aims to measure alcohol readings based on a driver's breath with the goal of distinguishing between the driver and passengers. The touch-based system meanwhile would shine an infrared light through a driver's fingertip to measure blood alcohol levels under the skin's surface. [...] The new mandate struck a positive note with some car safety groups, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving which has advocated for more detection tech in the past. "It's monumental," Alex Otte, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving told the AP. Otte went on to describe the package as the "single most important legislation" in the group's history. At the same time though, the mandate has drawn concerns from safety experts and digital rights groups that warn driver monitoring technology could have knock-on privacy implications. In a letter sent last year by the American Highway Users Alliance, the organization urged support of the NHTSA's DADSS Research Program but expressed concerns that the technology could potentially infringe on driver's civil liberties. "The group also expressed concerns over how the collection and storage of driver data would work and who would have the rights to that data," adds Gizmodo. Others have also expressed concerns over the accuracy of driving monitoring technology and potential risks of bias.

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