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 February 3, 2018  Court, Surveillance, U.S.

Cyrus Farivar reports that autonomous vehicles (AVs) have changed our threat model.

In order for AVs to work, they have to snag all kinds of data about the world around them: where precisely other objects are at any given moment and how fast they are moving. That data can seemingly be kept forever.

Under current law, all of that data can be obtained relatively easily by federal law enforcement. In other words, if you’re a privacy-minded citizen, your threat model just changed.

“Because of all of the sensors and data that is being captured—[AVs] are giant recording things,” Jaeger said. “Even if they’re not involved in an incident directly, they captured some of it. Maybe infrared data or something.”

This is profoundly different from older cars that lack such sensors and do not gather up such vast quantities of stored data. As such, Tesla’s terms and conditions—like those of other non-automotive tech companies, including Apple, Google, and more—say that the company will hand over data to law enforcement when legally compelled to do so. Waymo did not respond to Ars’ multiple queries for clarification its position, so how far that assistance will go is anyone’s guess.

Read more on Ars Technica about an important case that may significantly impact law enforcement’s too-ready access to your data.