Visit our website in dark mode to reduce energy consumption and to reach our goal of becoming CO2-neutral.

Are New Cars Spying on You? A Deep Dive into Connected Car Data Tracking

Are New Cars Spying on You? A Deep Dive into Connected Car Data Tracking
April 02, 2024

So-called connected cars, vehicles equipped with internet access, are rapidly becoming the norm. While this offers features like safety and maintenance alerts, it also raises serious privacy concerns. Let's delve into the world of connected car data tracking and see what's really going on behind the scenes.

What Exactly Are They Tracking?

Imagine a car that constantly collects information about your driving habits, location, and even in-car conversations. Connected cars do just that, using a variety of sensors and software:

  • GPS: Tracks your location, potentially creating a detailed map of your daily routines.
  • Diagnostic Systems: Monitor vehicle performance, potentially revealing driving styles (harsh acceleration, braking, etc.).
  • In-Car Cameras and Microphones (if equipped): These raise significant privacy concerns, with the potential to record conversations and even video.

Who Gets This Data, and How is it Used?

Car manufacturers collect this data, but they're not the only ones potentially interested. Here's where it gets complex:

  • Car Companies: They use data for various purposes, including service improvements, targeted advertising, and potentially selling it to third parties.
  • Insurance Companies: Driving data could be used to set insurance rates, potentially penalizing those with riskier habits.
  • Law Enforcement: In some cases, authorities may request access to car data for investigations.

Car Apps: Friend or Foe?

Many connected car features require dedicated apps. While convenient, these apps often request extensive permissions to access data like location, contacts, and even calendar information. Be cautious about what permissions you grant.

Do I Have Any Control Over This?

The good news is, you might have some options, although they may be limited:

  • Opt-Out Clauses: Some car manufacturers offer options to opt-out of data sharing, but these settings can be buried deep within menus.
  • Privacy Settings: Reviewing privacy settings in car apps can give you some control over what data is collected and shared.
  • State Laws: A growing number of states are enacting data privacy laws, offering consumers some rights regarding their information.

The Fight for Privacy: Consumers vs. Regulations

Consumer privacy advocates are pushing for stricter regulations on car data collection. The type of car apps available and how they collect data can also vary depending on your location. Here's a glimpse into the global landscape:

  • China: WeChat, a super app encompassing messaging, payments, and social media, is heavily integrated with connected car features. This level of integration might raise eyebrows in privacy-conscious regions.
  • Europe: Stricter data privacy regulations like GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) mean European car apps may have more robust opt-out features and clearer communication on data usage compared to apps in other regions.
  • North America: Usage-based insurance apps are gaining traction, offering discounts for safe driving habits. However, these often require more intrusive data collection practices.

Ultimately, where you live can influence the types of car apps available and the level of control you have over your data. Being aware of these variations is another factor to consider when navigating the connected car world.

The Road Ahead: Finding a Balance

The ideal solution would be a balance between innovation and privacy. Here are some potential scenarios:

  • Car companies using strong data privacy practices as a selling point.
  • Clear and transparent communication about data collection and usage.
  • Federal regulations establishing baseline privacy protections for car data.

What do you make of the future of connected cars? 

Was this article helpful? Yes No
13 out of 14 people found this article helpful
Cancel Submit