I talked to an expert in data resources about all the data that companies own, and how those companies may not have the foggiest notion of how much that information is worth.
Automakers have acquired a mountain of data about suppliers, customers and dealers -- so much that most folks wouldn't know what to do with it.
Now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to confuse the issue even more by mandating so-called black boxes in all new light vehicles beginning Sept. 1, 2014.
We have had black boxes for several years. After the initial outcry, only a few people thought anything more about them.
Many parties want access to information after a crash. Obviously the manufacturer wants to know what happened to the vehicle and why, especially if a defect was involved.
The insurance company is right up there, trying to figure out who is responsible for the crash and who should pay.
Lawyers representing any parties involved in litigation want information that could be valuable in a court case.
It's nothing like the black box in airplanes that captures the most basic information for just the last few seconds.
Like it or not, the black box can be invaluable for automakers to see if there are steps that can be taken to make cars safer.
None of this has anything to do with the biggest challenge for the industry and drivers all over the world. Distracted driving causes a lot of crashes and kills a lot of people. My instinct tells me that the younger the driver, the more susceptible he or she is to distractions.
Someday soon, engineers will figure out how to create a cocoon of electronic silence inside a vehicle. Nothing will work inside a car while it's in motion.
But until then, everyone must be vigilant about distracted driving.
I like the Ford MyKey that allows parents to limit the speed their kids can drive and, among other safety features, prevents the audio system from working unless front occupants buckle their seat belts. It should be available for everyone. It's a great safety feature.
Meanwhile, lawyers are going to fight over who owns the vehicle data in a crash. Until further notice, the owner seems to have some rights.