Sunday, November 28, 2010

Smile at the windshield – and say cheese?

California is giving the green light to allowing video cameras to be mounted onto vehicle windshields in an attempt to improve road safety.

The goal is to make participants aware of bad habits by recording their behavior seconds before and after a crash or erratic driving maneuver.

"It seemed like a common-sense approach," Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher said of permitting but not requiring the use of video recorders.

Parents could buy such cameras to place in their teenager's car, but the prime market is expected to be truck, bus or other transportation companies with large fleets.

Critics question whether expanding workplace recording intrudes upon privacy in a society where cameras already are used for purposes ranging from monitoring department store aisles to detecting red-light violations.

"We have this fundamental right to privacy, and I don't think there was a case made for why we need to have continuous recording of drivers and traffic," said Valerie Small Navarro of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The issue comes at a time when the country is split on another matter pitting privacy concerns against public safety policy – full-body scans and aggressive pat-downs at airports...