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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

GM's new high-tech recorder is illegal in many states

Earlier this year, I reported that GM had added a DVR to its venerable Corvette. It seems that GM was a little shy about the details of their system in the initial marketing of the system. Now, RT.com is reporting that GM is warning owners of the car in several states that they might be committing a felony by activating the system. The problem: it also records audio.

“Federal wiretapping laws generally require only one party to consent to a recording of an interaction," Ars Technica reported. “But in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington, all parties involved in the recording must either consent to a recording or at least be aware that the recording is happening, depending on the state. So if a Corvette owner turns on Valet Mode in California and turns the car over to the unknowing attendant, that Corvette owner could be committing a felony.”

“If they do use the Valet Mode, they should (i) notify any occupants of the vehicle that they will be recorded while in the vehicle, and (ii) obtain their consent to this recording. It is very important that you explain this to each customer at the time of delivery.”

GM is “evaluating several scenarios for the software update – for example disabling the audio recording in Valet Mode, but keeping the video recording active,” Monte Doran, a spokesperson for Corvette, said to Forbes.

Ryan Calo of the University of Washington School of Law explained that the audio – not video – recording is the legal sticking point of the technology.

“It’s really the interior audio that triggers various wiretap laws,” Calo said. “But not if the owner warns, thereby defeating the expectation of privacy.”



Anonymous said...

How does this relate to LE in-car video recordings? My last FVA in-car case had a State Trooper that recorded the audio both in the car and on a body worn mic as well. Does LE get an exemption?


Jim Hoerricks said...

It has to do with consent. In the LE vehicle with recording gear, the officer gives consent through policy - and knows he/she is being recorded. With GM's Valet Mode - the occupant would not know he/she is being recorded (that's the point) and thus could not give consent - which is illegal.