Chevrolet's latest Corvette can be equipped with GM's new Performance Data Recorder option, which functions a bit like a built-in GoPro and microphone array that's wired into the car's vital stats. In normal use, the idea is to turn your track days into learning experiences — you can analyze the footage to figure out what you're doing right and wrong to shave a few tenths of a second off your lap times, sharing your best work on YouTube. Problem is, the PDR can also break the law.
Among other things, the PDR features a "Valet Mode," which allows the owner to "lock the interior storage, disable the infotainment system and record video, audio and vehicle data" by setting a four-digit code — the idea is that when you're handing the keys over to a porter, they can't go hog-wild with your Vette's 455hp V8. But audio from the car's cabin gets recorded automatically, without the driver's consent. That's illegal in most states, which require that at least one party in the conversation be aware of what's going on (and some require all).
GM has acknowledged the issue, promising a software update to buff out the legal troubles — though it isn't yet saying how it's going to do that — and in the meantime, it's encouraging owners not to use Valet Mode unless everyone know's exactly what's going on. Here's the full statement:
Yes, Chevrolet has taken certain steps to help ensure that the Performance Data Recorder, an option on the 2015 Corvette, is used consistent with US laws that relate to recording devices. The issue only impacts a minor aspect of the Performance Data Recorder, which in "Valet Mode" permits an owner, among other things, to record audio in the vehicle after handing the keys to someone else. The vehicle does not currently provide notice to vehicle occupants that they are being recorded.
In the near future, we will be making a software update available to remedy this issue. A number of alternatives are under consideration. In the meantime, US customers have been sent a letter advising that they should not use the "Valet Mode," or that if they do they should obtain consent from the vehicle's occupants before they record them in the vehicle. A similar communication has been sent to Chevrolet dealers.