How Your Car Is Tracking You

Photo: usien (CC)

Photo: usien (CC)

Got a new car? Like the GPS navigation? Live traffic updates? The Detroit News describes how high tech in vehicles puts drivers’ privacy up for grabs:

Every time a motorist slides in behind the wheel, odds are that car or truck is gathering information: How aggressively the driver accelerated, whether the speed limit was observed, how hard the brake pedal was applied. And beyond driving habits, where and when the car was driven, what route was taken and whether the seat belt was buckled.

Few laws or regulations address ownership of data collected by infotainment and navigation systems in dashboards and by electronic black boxes under hoods. Auto data privacy is the industry equivalent of the Wild West, according to automotive industry and law experts.

Should drivers expect information collected by their cars to be private? Can police or other government agencies get their hands on recorded data after a crash to review drivers’ whereabouts if they’re suspected of a crime? What if automakers decided to sell details about driving habits to marketers who want to broadcast targeted ads as motorists run errands?

These questions come at a time when many Americans are fearful of their privacy in the wake of National Security Agency leaks and the answers are largely unclear.

One thing is sure: Automakers collect data and they share it, several recently told a Government Accountability Office investigation. And according to the terms of use for many voice-activated and navigation systems, automakers have the right to share that information with marketers or anyone else they might want to.

Those facts — and the secrecy surrounding what automakers might do with personal information — have alarmed consumer advocates and raised questions within the industry about the future of data collection.

“The automotive industry needs to think hard about the type of information they want to collect and who they want to pass it on to,” said Thilo Koslowski, a vice president at technology research firm Gartner Inc. “Anything that focuses more on the driver than the vehicle, that’s where consumers won’t find a whole lot of value.”…

[continues at Detroit News]

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  • Gjallarbru

    Everyday, my ’81 BJ42 Landcruiser seems better and better.

    The only bit of “electronic” failure that could prevent the truck from running can be disabled without tools. There’s no data collection, and no way to stop it electronically. In fact, since it is an old style diesel you can remove batteries, and it will keep going for as long as there is fuel in the tank. With the aluminum body I installed, there’s no rust either if I take care of the frame. A nice set of 35″ keeps me on top of things. With a turbo coming in a few months it will rock even more.

    With the idea of data collection, why the hell should I want a modern truck / car? You can’t know squat about me judging from the truck, unless there’s mud, ’cause then you know I went in a trail recently…

    • Thurlow Weed

      Same with my ’74 Schwinn 10-speed. That bad boy rolls off the grid!

      • Gjallarbru

        I bet I can do more mileage before I get tired! ;P

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