Lawyers Seeking In-Car Data Raises Privacy Concerns

Jason Siu
by Jason Siu

Technology and personal information make for dangerous bedfellows and it’s something drivers will need to worry about very soon.

In a recent report, it is being revealed that lawyers are recognizing the data being collected by vehicle telematics systems, such as OnStar, Sync and ConnectedDrive, could be an important piece to building their court cases. Raising new privacy concerns on the data that’s being collected by those telematics systems, automakers are having to address whether or not consumers should be afraid. Currently, automakers make it clear in their privacy agreements that telematics data can and will be released to the courts and law enforcement if necessary.

As to what information is actually being collected and stored, that may differ depending on the system. For example, Ford states that data can only be retrieved with “direct physical access” to the vehicle and it has received court orders in the past from law enforcement or individuals involved in litigation. The American automaker however iterated that Sync doesn’t track its customers or transmit data continuously from a vehicle and that no data is wirelessly sent from the vehicle without the customer’s consent. “Location data is only shared with our partners when necessary to fulfill the services requested by the customer,” Ford said. “As you would expect, our partners are legally bound by contract to protect this information. Ford does not share such data with any other companies, and Ford does not sell this data.”

SEE ALSO: Privacy a Concern for Future Motoring

OnStar told Automotive News that it doesn’t “share data with law enforcement absent a court order unless it is necessary to protect the safety of its customers or others.” The company does provide data to police in a situation where a vehicle has been stolen and can cut off a car’s power if necessary.

The bigger concern is what data can be used in the court of law and how it is retrieved will be a sticking point in whether or not it’s admissible evidence. Eventually, standards will be needed to regulate what information is collectible and how it is gathered will be of great importance.

[Source: Automotive News]

Jason Siu
Jason Siu

Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.

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