Accepted paper:

Black box and Italian drivers: the controversial relation between security, control, and privacy

Authors:

Irene Moretti (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on material collected during ongoing fieldwork in Italy, I will show how the recent implementation of the black box in the car insurance domain has given rise to a controversial debate around the nexus between security, control, and privacy in the context of Italian private mobility.

Paper long abstract:

The approval of the Italian Competition Law in August 2017 sparked off a controversial debate around car liability insurance and the employment of the "black box", a technological device aimed at preventing car crashes and controlling insurance premiums. More than 5 million insured people already decided to install a black box in their car. This enabled them to get a discount on their insurance policies while providing a great deal of data to the insurance industry. Examples of the data recorded are the location of the vehicle, driving speed, and crash rates. In other words, the driving styles of those "responsible" drivers who installed this device. To foster the spread of the black box, insurance companies claim that this device benefits insured individuals by providing them with a set of services that will ensure a less risky mobility. How did this debate translate into the life of Bologna's (Italy) inhabitants? How does a black box circulate within the technical and social network it creates? How is the black box perceived by professionals involved in the car and insurance industries? How do their opinions differ (or not) when they relate the black box to their own everyday life, as insured individuals? Drawing on material collected during ongoing fieldwork in Bologna (Italy), I will show different perspectives on the implementation of the black box in the car insurance domain. By doing so, I will highlight the much-debated nexus between security, control, and privacy in the context of Italian private mobility.

panel P118
Security on the move: mobility and experimentation [Anthropology of security]