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EU proposal for automated car emergency calls addresses privacy concerns

Loek Essers | Dec. 5, 2014
The European Union has ironed out privacy concerns in a proposed law that would make it mandatory for vehicles to have systems that automatically call emergency services in case of a crash.

But the eCall system could still have data protection problems, said Judith Sargentini, a MEP for the green party, which still opposes the plan and thinks an eCall system should be voluntary.

Even though the system is "dormant" it still has to be active in some way to be able to send a signal with location data based on GPS, she said, adding that you never know who might be able to hack this and read out the data from a distance. Moreover, the system has to coexist with commercial eCall-type systems that probably will be able to sell data to third parties. And under the new proposal it is still unclear whether an eCall made in case of an accident is handled by the commercial system or the noncommercial system and thus who will be responsible for the data, Sargentini said.

Besides, the plan is expensive and the Green Party isn't so sure that ambulance response times will be shortened as a result of the system, she said.

It is very unlikely, though, that those arguments will stick as the Green Party seems to be the only party opposing the plan. The agreement was approved by the Internal Market Committee, 30-1, with two abstentions. The proposed law has to be formally approved by all EU member states, after which it would be voted on by the whole Parliament, which is expected to happen in March next year.

A separate decision that obliges member states to prepare their infrastructure to receive and handle eCall no later than October 2017 entered into force in June.

 

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