Government surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) is bad enough. Many of you, like I, have received an offer from a very well-known and respected auto insurance provider to "put you in the driver's seat." And get a "Drive Safe and Save Discount" to boot!

Excuse me, but I thought I was already in the "driver's seat" of my own automobile. This sounds to me like they want to get in there with me, and bring along all their friends along with them!

The amount of the "Drive Safe and Save Discount" is not stated, but depends upon my "driving behaviors," such as:

  • Braking
  • Acceleration
  • Turns (left and right turns)
  • Time of day the vehicle is driven
  • Speeds of 80 mph or over

The on-board "black box" they would provide plugs into my car's under-dash computer connection, and "lets you monitor your driving habits." Yeah, me, you, the government, and everyone else!

We have learned that the devil is in the fine print. The Customer Agreement for this program includes nine (9) pages of very fine print! If you have time to wade through it, you will find, among other things, that:

"We and/or our Service Partners may collect, intercept or obtain Vehicle and Subscriber Data from and/or about you and/or your Vehicle in a number of ways, including (without limitation)" -- and then it proceeds to list six different specific ways.

Once they obtain our data, they and their "Service Partners may:

". . . retrieve, access and/or use any of the information, including (without limitation), location information, recorded, transmitted or otherwise obtained in connection therewith, at any time and for any reason, and you hereby consent to the foregoing and hereby expressly release us and our Service Partners. . . and you hereby expressly acknowledge and consent to such sharing.

You (for yourself and your Vehicle's occupants and anyone else acting or using the Service on your behalf): (1) expressly consent to the monitoring and recording activities described herein, and (2) release us and our Service Partners from claims, liabilities and losses resulting in connection with any such monitored and/or recorded conversations as described herein.     

We may also use your name, postal delivery information and phone number to contact you for various purposes (including marketing purposes). You hereby consent to us and/or our Service Partners requesting and obtaining your current personal information (as defined by 18 U.S.C. 2725) from any state department of motor vehicles or any reseller of such information. Your consent is pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 2725(b) (13)."

Similarly, their Privacy Policy is three (3) pages of the same very fine print, and gives more exceptions than assurances of privacy, to wit:

"Although we take your privacy very seriously and we use industry standard practices to protect the privacy of your information, we cannot guarantee that your information will always remain private. Should we ever declare bankruptcy or should our assets ever be acquired by or merged into another organization, all customer information we have collected will be treated as an asset and may be transferred to a third party."

I am truly shocked that a firm with such a highly respected reputation would offer such an obvious intrusion into my privacy. We have no choice with the NSA's prying, but this is a private company trying to get into the act. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't touch this thing with a twenty (20) foot pole.

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