Legislature pulls new car-tracking bill

August 25, 2008 7:17:10 PM PDT
Privacy rights activists scored a big victory in Sacramento on Monday.

It's one that affects everyone who drives in this state. There's been a proposal working its way through the legislature that would have allowed insurance companies to keep closer track of your driving habits. The proposal pitted environmentalists and insurance companies against consumer activists.

New technology allows car insurance companies to know where you drive and when you drive. It can also monitor how fast you leave a light when it turns green and how quick you stop at an intersection -- or if you don't stop at all.

California law doesn't allow that technology to be used to set insurance rates. But, an assembly bill, AB 2800, would have changed that, allowing tracking technology to be used and installed in your car.

"Obviously, some companies would provide a discount to entice you to have this item in your vehicle and then, one of the things it does is allows it to more accurately assess how much your drive," says Tully Lehman of the Insurance Information Institute.

Those who backed AB 2800, say here in California, only mileage could have been tracked. Not where and how you drive. But, consumer activists were concerned the wording was too vague and put privacy at risk.

"We have a huge problem with requiring Californians to pay for their privacy or pay higher insurance rates if they refuse.

I mentioned to Carmen that I've seen reports from across the country that shows how great this technology is that you don't have to have it, but if you choose to have it installed you get a great deal on your insurance.

Carmen replied, stating that "there is really no choice in this situation; either you allow the insurance companies to spy on you or you pay a higher insurance rate. That's no choice."

On Monday, the bill's author, Marin Assemblyman Jared Huffman pulled the legislation. Apparently because of it, however, mileage-based insurance premiums could become a reality in California. However, the tracking concerns of consumer activists have been put to rest for now.


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