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Car Apps: Convenience or Privacy Nightmare? Unmasking the Risks



Clear Facts

  • Phone applications linked with modern vehicles may permit marketers, insurers, and potential hackers to extract personal data about drivers, leading to privacy concerns.
  • Car companies have the ability to collect and share a driver’s personal and sensitive information, including medical and genetic data, with service providers, data brokers, and other businesses.
  • The Federal Trade Commission has warned businesses, including car manufacturers, against the illegal collection, use, and disclosure of personal data, emphasizing the sensitivity and protections under the FTC Act for geolocation data.

As technology advances and continues to permeate every aspect of our lives, concerns about personal privacy are becoming more central. One such area of growing concern is the proliferation of phone applications connected to new vehicles. These applications, while offering a wealth of conveniences and features, may also be opening a Pandora’s box of privacy nightmares.

It’s been reported that “Modern cars are a privacy nightmare. Every car brand collects more personal data than necessary and uses that information for a reason other than to operate your vehicle and manage their relationship with you.”

Moreover, data collected by these apps can be far-reaching and deeply personal, extending beyond simple driving habits. It has been noted that “Many can track where you go and when, how fast you drive and how hard you brake, where you park and spend time, even what music or podcasts you listen to.”

The implications of this data mining are vast and concerning. Such information can become a treasured resource for marketers and insurers, while also presenting a potential target for hackers seeking to exploit the amassed data. The stakes are even higher considering that car companies have the capacity to collect a driver’s medical information and even genetic data.

According to reports, 84% of the car brands researched admitted that they could theoretically share a driver’s personal information with service providers, data brokers, and other businesses. Even more alarming, 76% of the brands said they could sell the driver’s personal data. This suggests that “Car companies are becoming tech companies. Self-policing hasn’t been shown in other tech industries to be a reliable way for companies to operate.”

In light of these concerns, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a stern warning in May to all businesses, including car manufacturers. “Car manufacturers—and all businesses—should take note that the FTC will take action to protect consumers against the illegal collection, use, and disclosure of their personal data. Recent enforcement actions illustrate this point: Geolocation data is sensitive and subject to enhanced protections under the FTC Act,” they stated.

Indeed, the FTC has highlighted the sensitivity surrounding location data, a key component of data collected by car applications. They noted, “Cars are much like mobile phones when it comes to revealing consumers’ persistent, precise location. In a series of seminal cases in recent years, the Commission has established that the collection, use, and disclosure of location can be an unfair practice.”

The potential for misuse of this data is a significant concern. The FTC has pointed out instances where data could be used to track highly personal details about individuals, such as visits to sensitive locations. As technology continues to evolve and intertwine with our lives, it becomes increasingly important to address these privacy concerns and ensure that personal information is protected.

Let us know what you think, please share your thoughts in the comments below.



1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. A. J. KIPERTS

    July 20, 2024 at 11:44 am

    The local authorities MUST prosecute the offenders who missuse persomal information obtained by car applications.

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