Published in Transportation

Car companies are playing fast and footloose with data privacy

by on05 December 2023

Collecting far too much data

A survey by a US senator of 14 car makers has shown that they are collecting more user data than many car owners are aware.

Democrat Senator Edward Markey is one of the more technologically engaged US politicians, which to be fair is a low bar.  But he says that he does not like what he sees in terms of automakers' approach to data privacy.

Markey found widespread problems with most automakers collecting too much personal data and being too eager to sell or share it with third parties, the foundation found.

Markey mentioned a similar study by the Mozilla Foundation in his letters, which were sent to BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Stellantis, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

He said he was concerned about the large amounts of data that modern cars can collect, including the troubling potential to use biometric data (like the rate a driver blinks and breathes, as well as their pulse) to infer mood or mental health.

Senator Markey is also worried about automakers' use of Bluetooth, which he said has expanded "their surveillance to include information that has nothing to do with a vehicle's operation, such as data from smartphones that are wirelessly connected to the vehicle."

"These practices are unacceptable. Although certain data collection and sharing practices may have real benefits, consumers should not be subject to a massive data collection apparatus, with any disclosures hidden in pages-long privacy policies filled with legalese. Cars should not -- and cannot -- become yet another venue where privacy takes a backseat."

Last modified on 05 December 2023
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