Police Use Data from Car Computers to Solve Crimes

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Police forces are reportedly using digital evidence from vehicles to investigate crimes, but many privacy activists have fears about the lack of information security in most vehicles’ computers.

NBC News reports that in recent years police investigators have discovered that newer vehicles can provide quite a lot of digital evidence. The vehicles’ onboard computers generate and store data that can easily be used to determine where a vehicle has been and what passengers were doing.

These onboard computers provide information on the location, speed, and acceleration of vehicles as well as information on when doors were opened and closed, whether texts and calls were made while the driver’s cell phone was connected to the car’s system and even voice commands that may have been used in the vehicle.

But while this can be hugely beneficial to law enforcement investigating crimes, privacy advocates worry that the lack of security around these vehicle’s digital information can pose a risk to owners. Andrea Amico, the founder of Privacy4Cars, which makes an app that helps people delete data from their vehicle, commented: “I hear a lot of analogies of cars being smartphones on wheels. But that’s vastly reductive.”

Amico added: “If you think about the amount of sensors in a car, the smartphone is a toy. A car has GPS, an accelerometer, a camera. A car will know how much you weigh. Most people don’t realize this is happening.”

Lam Nguyen, the director of the Defense Cyber Crime Center, a federal forensic laboratory and training center, commented: “I’m sure everyone is aware of how much forensic data is on the phone. What people don’t realize is a lot of that is being transmitted to a car just because you register the phone with the car.”

Nguyen outlined the information that can be obtained from a car’s digital systems, stating: “If you’ve committed some heinous crime and we can’t get into your phone, we can get peripheral data that has been synced to your car. The contact list, calls made, text messages. In almost any criminal investigation, communication with the victim or co-conspirators is hugely important. Taking that with the telematics you get — how many people were in the car, how many doors opened — and it all paints a strong picture.”

Read more at NBC News here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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