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A Benefit Or Big Brother? NYC Unveils Pilot Program To Track Driving Habits

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- It's a new city pilot program to track how you drive, when you drive, how fast your drive and how much gas you use.

The Department of Transportation says it will help fix street problems. Others say its like Big Brother is watching you, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported Friday.

It's a tiny black box about the size of a pack of gum that is installed right under the steering wheel. It will allow city officials under a program called "Drive Smart" to collect and access data about how you drive -- if you drive like a maniac, or if you're Mr. or Mrs. Slow Poke.

"It can tell the g-force of hard stopping or hard acceleration and a hard turn," DOT senior project manager Alex Keating said. "So the driver, as well as the service provider, are able to look at speeds, hard-breaking events, time of day and basic GPS."

City officials say they'll use to information to make the streets safer, but drivers can also allow various DOT partners to use the information. Allstate, for example, will give you insurance discounts of 10-30 percent, and Metropia will get you home faster with less congested routes -- all of it hooked up to smartphone apps.

Security expert Manny Gomez said there are many reasons to just say no to this program.

Like, for instance, the danger of hacking.

"Anything is hackable as we've already seen. Sony was hacked; the U.S. government was hacked, so clearly the City of New York could be hacked and ths information could easily become public," Gomez said.

Gomez questions whether the city could use the information against people. DOT officials said that will not happen.

"All of the data is anonymous. We actually erase the data from our data base every 48 hours," Keating said.

New Yorkers seem split on the idea.

"More control over the people ... I wouldn't be down for that, definitely not," Brian Bradford said.

"Yeah, I'd definitely do that. Thirty percent is 30 percent," one woman said of the potential insurance discount.

"Enough. Enough. Enough. There is the NSA, CIA, FBI -- you have more information than you need," taxi driver Nour Chad said.

The Department of Transportation is looking for 400 volunteers to participate in the year-long program. You have to have a valid driver's license and drive in the city at least four days a week.

In addition to an app to reduce car insurance rates, there are apps to tell you where to buy the cheapest gas, and how to drive safely.

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