As the U.S. enters a new era of lawmaking, connected cars could become the new front of legal battles. Most modern cars know their locations better than their owners do. As suites of connected-car apps become mainstream for both emergency functionality or for driver conveniences such as remote start and parking guidance, new vehicles are overflowing with data needed to support always-on connectivity.
The data on your vehicle can show the your daily life and routine down to your home, workplace and frequented gas station.
Cars are becoming increasingly advanced with the latest technological features that make them smarter than ever. As much as there are advantages that come from this new technology, there are some glaring disadvantages, too.
DATA FOR THE TAKING
While most owners don’t think about hacking of such systems by bad actors, there are still massive quantities of automatically generated data open to anyone with the knowledge to access it. The data is used or sold as advertising data, or to intrude on your privacy. The data includes information about your home, work, every trip you’ve taken, and even your habits – no matter how private. It all can be seen by companies, governments, and individuals you’ve never given permission to, and all of it is completely legal.
The good news is there’s already proposed legislation to combat the current fate of our data privacy. The bad news is we don’t know how long that legislation will take to pass, if it does at all.
Today’s cars come with infotainment systems with the latest software feature constant connection to the Internet, GPS, and voice recognition. Companies can keep user information, track you, and also listen to what is being said inside the car. You sign your right to privacy away when you purchase that vehicle.
Driving a car could even incriminate someone!
It’s worth examining just what kind of data the car itself collects and transmits. Ninety percent of cars sold in the United States and around 130 million total cars sold worldwide contain some form of embedded connectivity.
This built-in connectivity can take many forms: built-in Wi-Fi , infotainment systems that connect to cellular networks, and even Bluetooth systems. All of these systems share a few things in common: they collect and transmit massive amounts of data, they are usually embedded in the car’s operating data, and owners rarely have control of where that information ends up.
This data is known as telematics, and it’s a multi-billion-dollar industry with wide-reaching implications for businesses who want to know all about you and what you do.
Most consumers have no clue how powerful this telemetry data its others. The data on your vehicle can show your daily life and routine down to your home, workplace and frequented gas station, simply by going through stored location data that the infotainment system has automatically logged. The data remains even if you sell your car and next owner’s information is stored, as well.
But it’s not just the data inside your infotainment system that’s a concern. All of the data, the GPS coordinates of every gear change, acceleration and braking events, and steering inputs are not just stored onboard the car itself, but is frequently sent back to the automaker for storage and analysis.
The owners of this data, which is not you, want your information and telematics to help drivers and map companies spot and avoid traffic congestion by analyzing traffic patterns; urban planners can use this data to identify roads prone to jams and create more efficient streets; insurance companies can use it to spot fraud or dangerous driving habits; and manufacturers can identify potential malfunctions to repair.
Yet, with this billion-dollar business that comes massive privacy implications. Even with massive data sets comprised of millions of different peoples’ locations, identifying any one person out of those millions is a simple job. Connected cars face the same issues that cell phones. The underlying premise of location tracking is deeply difficult to anonymize, especially when the device in question travels with a person to their work and home.
NO 4TH AMENDMENT PROTECTION
But companies have very little incentive to reduce the usefulness of location data because often that’s specificity what makes it so valuable. There are no laws in the U.S. that requires manufacturers not to sell or share the data they collect, and some third-party companies sell the data to track specific vehicles.
Not only can this be used by less-than-scrupulous buyers, but previous court precedent in the U.S. allows for federal agencies to buy location datasets to sift through personally identifiable data that would otherwise require a warrant. Yes, this violates your 4th Amendment rights.
There is so much more to discuss on this, put your comments below and let’s start the conversation.
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Lauren Fix, The Car Coach is a nationally recognized automotive expert, media guest, journalist, author, keynote speaker and television host. A trusted car expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics and safety issues for both the auto industry and consumers. Her analysis is honest and straightforward.
Lauren is the National Automotive Correspondent for Newsmax TV, a conservative news net carried in 23 countries and in over 35 million U.S. cable/satellite homes. She is also The Weather Channel and Inside Edition’s auto expert. Lauren Fix serves as a juror for the esteemed North American Car & Truck of the Year Awards (NACTOY).
Lauren is The Car Coach columnist for Parade Magazine and eBay Motors and writes a weekly column. She also appears weekly on USA Radio’s DayBreak USA.
Lauren is the president and founder of Automotive Aspects, Inc., a consulting firm with a wide range of multi-media services, including media consulting, broadcast messaging strategy, public relations and television production.
Lauren is the author of three books: most recently, Lauren Fix’s Guide To Loving Your Car with St. Martins Press, Driving Ambitions: A Complete Guide to Amateur Auto Racing, and The Performance Tire and Wheel Handbook.
Lauren’s broadcast experience includes Oprah, Live! With Regis and Kelly, The View, TODAY, 20/20, The Early Show, CNN, FOX News, FOX Business, MSNBC, HLN, TBS Makeover and a Movie, Inside Edition, ESPN, TBS, Discovery, Speed and NPR, to name a few. Lauren previously hosted four seasons of Talk 2 DIY Automotive on the Do-It-Yourself Network (DIY), was the National Automotive Correspondent for Time Warner Cable and hosted Female Driven on Lifetime TV.
Lauren’s articles and advice have appeared in USA Today, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, eBay, Woman’s World, Esquire, First for Women, InTouch and Self. She has also contributed content to Motor Trend, Truck Trend, Hot Rod, Car Craft and many other automotive publications.
Lauren is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the Society of Automotive Analysts (SAA) and is an ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified technician. She inherited her love of all things automotive from her father, who owned a brake remanufacturing business and worked for many U.S. manufacturers. Lauren has been fixing, restoring and racing cars since the age of ten. She has been advising drivers almost all her life.
In addition to being a leader in positive consumer awareness and the automotive industry, Lauren is often asked to speak to groups around the world about her success in marketing, motivation, entrepreneurship, parenting and other lifestyle topics.
Lauren was named the 2015 WIN Award, 2013 SEMA Business Network “Mentor of The Year”; SEMA Business Network 2012 Woman of the Year; and awarded various Car Care Council “Automotive Communications Awards” in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Past awards include 2008 Automotive Woman of The Year and 2010 Woman of Distinction – Entrepreneur winner. Lauren Fix was inducted into the National Women and Transportation Hall of Fame in 2009 – a very high honor for a hard working automotive professional.
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