TrustArc Blog

Privacy Issues Connected to Cars

May 16, 2017

Image from autoconnectedcar.com

Connected cars can connect to devices, other cars, or networks that are inside or outside of the car. For example, connected cars can use a driver or passenger mobile device to conduct hands free phone calls. Other examples include: navigation apps, music streaming, or wifi hotspots. Some apps can even use connected cars’ cameras to find open parking spots for drivers. As infotainment centers and features in cars become more advanced, they collect more personal information.

While the examples above show how driving experiences can be enhanced for drivers and passengers, companies can also reap benefits from collecting the data.

Government organizations such as the FTC and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can use connected cars’ data to enhance safety, and protect the environment. One feature that can help protect drivers are vehicle to vehicle communication systems (V2V), which wirelessly exchange information to warn drivers of potential crash risks.

Companies that are developing self-driving cars need to use connected cars’ data to “teach” driverless cars things like how to look for road signs, traffic lights, and lane lines. Information about drivers and passengers can also be used for marketing purposes, such as suggesting places to eat or shop on the car’s usual driving routes. Automakers such as Ford and GM already use car data in conjunction with third parties to offer car drivers special perks and discounts on third party services.

The predictions for connected cars, and more importantly, their data, are overwhelmingly optimistic. A  BI Intelligence report on connected cars predicts that over 380 million connected cars will be on the road by 2021. With all of the connected cars comes a lot of connected car data. Fortune magazine predicts that by 2020, autonomous vehicles will generate about 4,000 gigabytes of data a day. According to Intel, that much data would normally be generated by about 3,000 people through use of their PCs, mobile phones and other wearable technology. That data will be monetized. At the LA Auto Show, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced that “data is the new oil.”

As new connected car technology advances and companies have greater monetary incentives to process the data, privacy and transparency should be considered. Many car companies operate on a global scale, so it is likely that international privacy regulations, such as the EU GDPR may apply.

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