You New Car is Spying on You


I first learned about this in Shosanna Zuboff's incredible book, but this article provides a nice little summary. The sensors in your car collect data and that is used to warn you through an engine light when something is amiss. But there are more sensors than those. And it's not a closed system--it's an open system where this data is transmitted to others outside of your car. "Many new models come with data-logging capability to monitor behaviour at the wheel as well as the location of the vehicle and the types of journey a driver usually completes."

More: "Car companies are sharing anonymised behavioural data about customers to third party companies. This includes information such as where they go and their driving style. The survey of 532 motorists currently in the process of buying their next car found that just one in ten knew that vehicles had data agreements in place - though just one in five admitted they had read the terms and conditions of these agreements in the vehicles they own."

And consider: "Any new model with connected features - such as in-car wi-fi, apps and even built-in sat-nav - will have requested your permission to sign up. As well as being able to monitor where and how you drive, the car may also hold - and share - personal information about the owner, such as where they bought the vehicle from and when their finance agreement is due to end."

Down the road (so to speak), an even worse future is being contemplated: "Electric car maker, Polestar, will have Google's Android OS built into its cars and will transform models like its '2' into 'a shop you can buy things in'. Mark Aryaeenia, chief executive of vehicle data company, Verex, told Parkers: 'Car companies are thinking far ahead into the future. For instance, an autonomous car has a captive audience. Imagine the e-commerce opportunities it has.'" Yes, just imagine being captive in a car for 6 hours with non-stop ads.

The article mentions that 86% of drivers polled do not want their car spying on them or transmitting data about them to others. Tough luck--that is exactly what they've got going on.

I'm kind of glad I have vintage cars. And a Faraday sleeve for my phone. It's nice to be able to drive anonymously and without being tracked, logged, and analyzed. If only our government were willing to ensure that those with newer cars would have the same rights . . .