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House of Lords discusses Automated Vehicles Bill and taxi passenger data privacy



In a House of Lords discussion held on 10 January, the focus turned to the new Automated Vehicles Bill, particularly addressing the concerns surrounding the storage of journey data from automated taxis.


Baroness Randerson, a prominent figure in the debate, highlighted key issues related to data protection and national security in the context of automated vehicles.

Emphasising the significance of the Information Commissioner's Office's (ICO) response to the Law Commissions' report, Baroness Randerson expressed the necessity of Amendment 36, which involves the ICO in establishing rules and standards for data handling in this evolving landscape.


She outlined two main concerns. Firstly, the issue of safeguarding personal privacy and data, and secondly, the matter of national security. As automated vehicles gain access to extensive data about the UK's road network and traffic patterns, Baroness Randerson raised the issue of a major cyberattack capable of disrupting traffic and potentially wreaking havoc on the economy.


Baroness Randerson stated: "Can you imagine the impact on the economy of a major cyberattack that could paralyse traffic over a considerable area?"


She alluded to the iconic movie "The Italian Job" but underscored the very real national security implications of potential hacking into the system.

Turning her attention to personal privacy, she posed pertinent questions about data ownership and control. For example, when a car is sold to another individual, what happens to the data collected by that vehicle? Does it remain with the original owner, or does it transfer to the car or its manufacturer? She also questioned the right of individuals to request data erasure, emphasising the need for public awareness on these issues.


Baroness Randerson added: “My second example is of a taxi company. I hire a taxi, so the company concerned therefore knows where I picked it up and where I left it. Does that data belong to the taxi company or to me? I realise that a taxi company now has data on things such as this, but it is in a very much less systematic way.”


The Automated Vehicles Bill itself aims to regulate the use of automated vehicles on roads and in public spaces while addressing various provisions related to vehicle automation. Notably, it includes disapplication of existing taxi, private hire vehicle, and bus legislation when automated passenger services are provided in permitted areas and vehicles.


The Bill specifies that vehicles providing automated passenger services should not be treated as traditional hackney carriages, private hire vehicles, public service vehicles, or hire cars for legislative purposes under different regional legislation.


The discussion in the House of Lords sheds light on the complex issues surrounding the integration of automated vehicles into the transport landscape and how the taxi industry fits into discussions on the a topic that could have a devastating impact on 100,000’s of workers in the sector.

 
 

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