As information privacy becomes increasingly scarce in the world of social media, even car companies have begun collecting massive amounts of data on their drivers.
The Washington Post reports that car companies are increasingly requesting the personal data of those that purchase their cars. The Post used the example of a man named Daniel Dunn who noticed an odd stipulation in the contract he signed to lease a Honda Fit last year, according to the contract Honda wanted to track the location of Dunn’s car at all times. “I don’t care if they know where I go,” said Dunn, “They’re probably thinking, ‘What a boring life this guy’s got.’ ”
However, Dunn’s “boring life” could be extremely valuable to a company like Honda, simply by tracking certain elements of Dunn’s vehicle such as where he goes companies can determine a massive amount of data such as how fast Dunn regularly drives, how much fuel he uses, his likes and dislikes based on the locations he visits, where he shops, how hard he brakes and even how often he wears a seatbelt. And car companies are reportedly monitoring tens of millions of American cars in a similar way with that number increasing every time someone buys or leases a car.
Lisa Joy Rosner, the chief marketing officer of Otonomo, a firm that sells connected-car data, sharing the profits with automakers, said in a statement “The thing that car manufacturers realize now is that they’re not only hardware companies anymore — they’re software companies,” she continued, “The first space shuttle contained 500,000 lines of software code, but compare that to Ford’s projection that by 2020 their vehicles will contain 100 million lines of code. These vehicles are becoming turbocharged spaceships if you think of them from a purely horsepower perspective.”
According to ABI research, there are currently 78 million cars on the road with an embedded cyber connection feature. Research firm Gartner expects that by 2021, 98 percent of cars sold in the U.S. and Europe will be data connected. When asked how their company uses user data, Honda spokesperson Natalie Kumaratne stated that the company “cannot provide specifics at this time.”
Pam Dixon, the executive director of the World Privacy Forum, discussed how even minor data can give automotive company’s an insight into their users life, “Most people don’t realize how deeply ingrained their habits are and how where we park our car on a regular basis can tell someone many things about us,” she continued, “There’s a load of anti-fraud companies and law enforcement agencies that would love to purchase this data, which can reveal our most intimate habits.”
Ryan Calo, an associate professor of law at the University of Washington, stated his belief that laws have not been able to keep up with the advancement of technology saying, “Ultimately, there’s no car privacy statute that car companies have to abide by.” “Not only are automakers collecting a lot of data, they don’t have a particular regime that is regulating how they do it.” Calo continued to say “they want to sell cars and maintain a competitive advantage over the Googles and Apples of the world.”