What Your Car Knows About You

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What Your Car Knows About You

It turns out, as a car audio dealer, you should be aware of what kind of data today’s cars are collecting from drivers.

If you have a loaner car at your shop, listen up.  You could be collecting data from your customers without their consent if they plug their phone into the car’s infotainment system and you don’t erase that data. This could leave you open to hefty fines, reports JD Supra in an article reprinted from CounselorLibrary.

Let’s backup a little and first answer the question, what kind of data can cars collect?

Rappler.com says cars can learn your Twitter handle or your Facebook handle and from there, they may know your calendar entries.  Cars know what data was downloaded to your phone recently, and which photos you took recently. They know what music you listen to.  Syncing your phone to your car over Bluetooth or WiFi or through CarPlay or Android Auto will reveal this kind of information. Even just driving with the car’s GPS reveals information, according to  Privacy4Cars.

“For example, whenever you connect your cell phone to a car’s infotainment center, you are giving that car access to such things as your personal and business contacts, call logs, text messages, navigation history, home and work addresses, garage codes, passwords, IDs, health and other biometric information, credit information, user profiles, and third-party apps.”
Lawsuits have already been filed against rental car companies claiming the companies captured personal information without the drivers’ consent (violating the right to privacy).  The suits state the car companies failed to delete the drivers’ information when they returned their car, according to to CounselorLibrary.
The article cautions car dealerships to beware.  They may be treading on privacy rights when they buy, sell and finance used vehicles that have captured data from their drivers. That data can be picked up by third party companies.
In fact, the Federal Trade Commission is reportedly looking into the collection and storage of vehicle data

Some states levy penalties in the $500-$7,500 range per VIN.

CounselorLibrary suggests you, as a business, ask yourself questions such as:

  • Do you have a vehicle loaner, rental, or car sharing program?
  • Do you serve customers with sensitive information/special privacy considerations, such as customers in the government, military, or law enforcement or who otherwise have security clearance? What about high net worth individuals, C-level executives, those who work in HR, IT, or security departments? What about customers who may have been victims of a crime or harassment or who are in a protected class?
  • Do you sell (and upsell) vehicles with telematics/connected services?
  • Have you sold or will you sell at least one vehicle to one California resident in 2021?
  • Are you sure that no employees/contractors would help themselves to the personal information captured by a vehicle?
  • Do you have a policy on how to handle personal information that may be stored or processed by vehicles’ systems?

It suggests your business have a written policy regarding the collection, and deletion of captured vehicle data and that you tell consumers what information you collect.  If you require customers to sign legal documents on a loaner car or for other reasons, you may want to consult a lawyer and revise your statement to address data privacy.

See more at JDSupra.com and Rappler.com

Photo: Toyota of Clermont

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1 Comment

  1. I’m pretty sure all these consents are already handled on the phones themselves, when we skip reading and agree to the TOS, and any app we also download, and skip reading the lengthy legal information explaining their TOS. I don’t see how any entity or device after the phone, could be held liable after that.

    This sounds like a panic piece written of off some vague information that someone saw in a lawsuit posting. You, as a consumer, should be responsible for your own digital “footprint” as much as possible. If you don’t like it, or feel you don’t have enough control over it, spend more time reading the legal documents presented to you, and decide not to use that product or app, based on your willingness to agree.

    You don’t HAVE to buy a smart phone, but most of us do anyways these days.

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