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Thursday, March 31, 2005
  Nowhere is safe from the prying eyes of Big Brother, least of all your car
Appeals court says 'black boxes' in cars can be used as evidence against drivers: South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "The little 'black box' in Edwin Matos' car is a reliable source of evidence that he was driving at more than three times the speed limit when he slammed into another vehicle and killed two teenage girls in Pembroke Pines, an appeals court ruled on Wednesday.

In what appears to be the nation's first such appellate ruling in a criminal case, the 4th District Court of Appeal agreed with the trial judge who allowed Broward prosecutors to use evidence gathered from the car's 'black box' in Matos' 2003 trial.

'This is a tool we're going to be using more and more often in traffic investigations,' said Michael Horowitz, the prosecutor who won two manslaughter convictions against Matos. 'It's an objective piece of evidence that can convict or exonerate you.'

Few drivers realize that a silent, technological passenger is riding along with them and could be used as evidence against them.

Every vehicle that has an airbag has a version of the box, which is also known as an 'event data recorder.' Experts describe it as the brain of the airbag system because it records speed and collects other data about how the car is operating and tells the airbags whether or not to deploy in the event of an accident.

While most cars on the road today have the device, Horowitz said that, right now, data can only be usefully retrieved and interpreted from a few makes, including Ford, General Motors and some Isuzu models. He said he expects the technology will be more widely available in the future and will be used in more cases."
 
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