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Drivers beware: Your car is a Privacy Nightmare!

In a study of car brands the Mozilla Foundation’s latest research has shown that the personal data of vehicle owners is being collected by sensors, microphones, cameras and their phones which can then potentially be sold to third parties. In some cases, personal data about an individual’s sexual activity, health and genetic data is being collected by the vehicle’s app. In addition, how fast the vehicle is being driven, the destination and what music is played on route is also collected. This data can then be used to create inferences about the intelligence and interest of the user of the vehicle.

Of the brands reviewed only two confirmed that the personal data that was collected and held could be deleted. Both brands were headquartered in the European Union where the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies.

The research found that the brands collected more personal data than is necessary and the data is used for reasons that are unrelated to the use of the vehicle.

It was found by the Mozilla Foundation that consent for collection of personal data is presumed by simply sitting or being a passenger in a vehicle and that it was the driver’s responsibility to tell passengers in their vehicle about the privacy policies. Added to this it was found that the privacy policies in place were confusing, lengthy, and vague.

Vehicle users were given very little control or option in regard to their privacy as choosing not to use a vehicle’s app could mean that the vehicle did not work as intended. Within the car industry data breaches are common ranging from employees watching videos captured by the vehicle or the leaking of personal data of customers.

The research is a concern to users of modern vehicles as to enjoy the full benefits of the vehicles it appears that the personal data of drivers and their passengers is being used for reasons far and above the reasons expected and completely unrelated to their use of that vehicle. Where possible, you should always opt out of sharing or selling your personal data and limit the amount of data collected via the vehicle’s app using your phone’s settings. Strong passwords and two-factor authentication for apps that connect to your vehicle should also be in place.

For more details on the story follow this link to The Guardian news article: