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Privacy and Consumer Advocacy Groups Urge Oversight of Dedicated Short Range Communications Systems

In 2015, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx announced a series of initiatives to speed the development of advanced technologies that could enhance highway safety. Among those initiatives was an effort to prepare to test the safety impact of wireless devices designed to share the section of the radio spectrum reserved for vehicle safety applications such as vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications (the Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC, 5850–5925 MHz)) spectrum band.

DSRC is a two-way short- to- medium-range wireless communications capability that permits very high data transmission critical in communications-based active safety applications. In Report and Order FCC-03-324, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allocated 75 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for use by Intelligent Transportations Systems (ITS) vehicle safety and mobility applications.

As DSRC systems become more prevalent in today’s vehicles, privacy and consumer groups have raised concerns about potential vulnerabilities, arguing that these communications may allow access to private information or increase the likelihood of cyber attacks. These groups are also concerned about the automakers’ intent to use the DSRC for commercial applications. On August 24, 2016, 18 consumer groups submitted a letter to the FCC  urging the commission to prevent the auto industry from using spectrum set aside for vehicle-to-vehicle communications for commercial applications. See the full text of the letter here.

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