Missing reins in an emerging marketplace for ELD data

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Updated Jun 17, 2019

Previously in this series: Data sharing practices among leading providers of ELDs to owner-operators

Electronic logging device providers have no legal restrictions on how they aggregate and use data generated by carrier use of their products, nor on how they distribute it to other companies.

Congress has not addressed such practices. Privacy and sharing issues involving ELD data fall outside the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, whose primary concern is safety. Unless an ELD vendor violates its own service terms regarding data handling, those issues also are outside the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission.

This brief is part of a series that is also featured in the June issue of Overdrive. Follow this link to start at the beginning of the online version of the series.This brief is part of a series that is also featured in the June issue of Overdrive. Follow this link to start at the beginning of the online version of the series.

Regulation of this area could emerge from the West Coast, where last June then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the California Consumer Privacy Act. Its sweeping regulations add transparency to what data is being collected by technology companies and how it’s being used. It also addresses how consumers can opt out of unwanted data sharing, request seeing the data collected on them and even demand deletion of their personal data. It’s the first law of its kind in the United States, though it mostly affects California residents.

The European Union in 2016 enacted similar laws, the General Data Protection Regulation, designed to protect individual privacy. At the U.S. federal level, there’s no data protection mandate, despite high-profile examples of companies mining user data and selling it.

“Facebook is expecting a $3-to-$5 billion judgment about how they protected or didn’t protect customers’ identities,” says broker Jeff Tucker. “A lot of the stronger regulatory guidelines and/or court cases that end up changing business practices happen” well after the actual infringement upon consumers.

Instead of regulating ELD data specifically, “personally identifiable information should be regulated” uniformly for all industries, says Doug Schrier, a vice president for ELD provider Transflo.

Until regulations, legislation or court cases set guidelines for data privacy, “it’s kind of ‘what you sign up for is what you get,’ ” says Eric Witty of ELD supplier Trimble. “If you don’t read the fine print in an agreement you’re signing,” you might be giving a provider the right to freely share.

Next in this series: Tracking-tech providers see new uses of ELD location data

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