Your Vehicle Is Reporting Data It Collects on You

We put PERSONAL back Into Personal Injury Law

Your Vehicle Is Reporting Data It Collects on You

When it comes to using social media, most of us are aware that we should protect our privacy, at least minimally. We have been warned against spammers, hackers, and other online criminals. We know that the business models of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms are to collect and sell our personal data. But wait a minute—our cars, too?

We need to start seeing our cars for what they increasingly are: data-generating devices. To clarify how your vehicle collects and uses information, in 2017 the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and the Future of Privacy Foundation (FPF) released a first-of-its kind consumer guide “Personal Data In Your Car.”

New technologies that are installed in our vehicles, from safety features to private access when keys are lost, are very helpful. But all of these wireless features are also peeping at your life. “Vehicles increasingly come connected with Wi-Fi, and may know more about you than you think—where you’ve been, what you’re listening to and what kind of coffee you like,” warned cbsnews. Ford’s former head of tech showed CBS News that no fewer than four computers rested under the hood of one car, and demonstrated how the data was streaming in real time on his smartphone. “With enough data, I can discern patterns that seem to be almost non-existent to the human eye.” he said. “We know how tired you are because we have cameras inside of the car looking at the driver to look for eyelid movement.”

An AP report warned, “That holiday trip over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house could turn into nice little gift for automakers as they increasingly collect oodles and oodles of data about the driver … Automakers are collecting valuable pieces of information thanks to the internet connections, cameras and sensors built into most vehicles in recent years.” In 2016, about one in every five cars sold globally could be plugged into the Internet, according to BI Intelligence. By 2020, about three out of every four cars sold will be online.

Does the vehicle owner own the data that’s collected? Under U.S. law, it’s unclear. Police and insurers need a driver’s consent or a court order to access the data stored in the black boxes that monitor vehicles in a crash—the driver owns that data. But there are no laws addressing data collected by automakers through vehicle Internet connections. Soon, a car’s data may be worth more than the vehicle itself.

Most automakers, reports the Chicago Tribune, provide owners the option to decline car data collection, but it’s typically buried in the fine print. “As automakers collect more data about drivers, they’re more likely to look for ways to profit. The built-in display screens and mapping software would seem to be ideal spots for posting advertisements, similar to what Google, Facebook, Amazon, and many other internet companies already do.” At Hudson Law Firm, we put PERSONAL back into Personal Injury Law. For an injury claim evaluation, call us at (972) 360-9898, or visit our website to chat with an associate. We understand and care about your injury, and look forward to helping you with your accident claim.