If you own and drive a car in Dallas, Texas, then you probably already know that your driving track record can come to negatively or positively influence the price you pay on your insurance premium. Good drivers are typically offered lower vehicle insurance rates, as a way of encouraging their good behavior. Yet, since some insurers have argued that police records alone are no longer enough to determine whether or not a driver does actually display good driving behavior, a new trend has emerged.
Nowadays, Dallas car insurers track drivers who opt for this method via a tracking device that is plugged in into the car. This might seem like a solution to the insurers’ problems, as well as a way to ensure lower rates for drivers. However, as some have noted, this deal is not as good as it may look on first glance, for a number of reasons. Apparently, the tracking device in question can track far more than just one’s driving.
Dallas insurers track drivers with a privacy-breaching device
The device at hand has been extensively advertised, both on TV and via other media, as a simple solution for Dallas insurance to track drivers and for the drivers to lower their premium costs. They’re not yet being used across the board, but a significant number of progressive Dallas insurance companies have already started to put them to use. At the same time, several Internet privacy advocates have drawn attention to the fact that the device is not ethical from their perspective. Among them, Dallas attorney Peter Vogel has even stated that there are “some very complex privacy problems associated with this”.
Vogel, who also teaches an online privacy course at the Southern Methodist Church, explained that the tracking device with which Dallas insurers track drivers could reveal potentially damaging information. Since people sign up for it of their own accord, they are basically giving away their right to ‘remain silent’. Any potentially unlawful activities that the devices track may end up being used against the drivers in court. Since users of the device only associate it with driving per se, many don’t even realize that, in essence, they are entirely giving away their privacy.
Tracking device is not just for bad drivers
Vogel went on to explain that the data mined by the devices and, implicitly, by the insurers, can be used against the users in any way – and that is beyond the scope of their control, once they sign away their rights to privacy. He stated that in a divorce case, for instance, one spouse can find out and prove the other spouse had been cheating on them simply by accessing track records from the car insurer. At the moment, Texas has no definite, clear-cut law on the status of GPS-collected information in court. In Vogel’s view, the situation is similar with that of personal information revealed in public, on social networking websites. In theory, they may be regarded as private, but in some cases such information was deemed public, after being posted online, and successfully used against the defendants.