Coming from a person with a background in IT and radio communications (particularly cellular), I would probably end up tampering with it and disabling or reducing the effectiveness of the communications.
Radios are by no means perfect. I didn't read those full articles to see if any protocol was described as to what information is sent how often, etc... Are they cellular? Cellular coverage doesn't exist everywhere. Also, if it's cellular, somebody has to pay the carriers for monthly service. I doubt you could legally be forced into paying the monthly service on one just for buying the vehicle... and if you resell it, transfer of liability would have to take place for the service. And regardless of whether it is cellular or not, do I get fined if the radio itself fails and can no longer communicate (assuming I didn't tamper with it) this critical information back to big brother? If it's not cellular I imagine it would be a nightmare to deploy anything else on that scale that is mobile and reliable. I would probably just disconnect the antenna or cause some source of interference constantly if I really didn't want this information communicated.
I personally think that doing anything while driving can be distracting and create danger. Some things more than others. Obviously the ones where you take your eyes off the road are likely the worst, such as looking at a cell phone/PDA/computer/GPS, whether you are pushing buttons or just looking. And this to me is not the same as looking at your speedometer, clock, idiot lights, etc as these have a very finite and known set of possible information to be communicated to the driver, whereas your cell phone could be displaying a text message of literally anything, which would require more time and brain power to intake than just a split second to see where the needle on teh speedometer is pointed. You know the speedometer is never going to say "What do you want for dinner?" or "Why didn't you call me?"
Even talking hands-free can be dangerous with duplex communication, especially cell phones. While there is only a slight delay in communication (and double that for round trip), that combined with the inevitible cellular phone cutting out or interference, background noise, etc can require yet even more of your brain to concentrate which is not spent on driving. Even conversing with the person in the seat next to you or in the back can take away from concentration needed to safely drive. The radio is probably the least distracting, but this probably depends heavily on waht song is playing and whether you are trying to learn the words or if you already know them, or if you are trying to memorize the 800 number that they tell you 5 times over the course of the commercial.
I'm not sure where eating/drinking (non-alcoholic beverages) falls in there...sometimes that requires you to turn your head at strange angles depending on the food, or you look down for 2 seconds longer than normal to make sure you're about to bite into the burger and not the wrapper.
And I'm done rambling.......off my soap box for now. I'm not a perfect driver by any means but I try to be as safe as I can. And I think I kind of hijacked the thread. Sorry about that. Back on track...ish...
The new proposed stuff that OBDIII will keep track of and send to "them" of course is designed (as they claim) so that the vehicle may run as efficiently as possible in terms of the vehicle vitals, which will keep the overall fuel cost lower for the driver (in theory), reduce emissions, and and of course reduce our country's energy consumption (probalby the biggest thing they want, or at least reduce dependence on foreign energy). That said, I definitely think it is an invasion of my privacy to send back my driving habits without my consent. I know some insurance companies can put in something similar so they can have proof you are a safe driver and give you lower premiums (or higher premiums, if it turns out you are a horrible driver), but as long as I consent to it, that's fine. Sending back vital stats of the vehicle I have mixed feelings about. I guess it depends on who it is sent to and if I am associated with it or not. FOr instance, if it just kept vehicle stats and sent to the manufacturer, without saying whose vehicle it is, I could understand how they could use that to keep better track of how the vehicles run based on certain driving habbits, etc... basically getting a HUGE Test pool of statistics so they can improve the design of future vehicles. If this same info also identified ME, so that they can come back and tell me not to drive that way or it will cost me, bad idea.
I really need to get back to work, I think this is getting nowhere. My apologies!