Privacy Risks in New Cars

Some people think of their cars almost as extensions of their homes, so they expect some measure of privacy. Yes, they may be driving down busy highways in vehicles that others can easily see into, but the insides of those vehicles are still considered personal space. That is why it may come as a shock to learn that modern vehicles may not be as private as they first appear.

Like in countless homes, schools, and coffee shops across the country, wireless connectivity is common in modern automobiles. While we can only hope that nobody is using their vehicle’s wireless connection to surf the web while driving, GPS navigation and devices that alert drivers about nearby locations and services are practically standard in the modern car. Unfortunately, anybody who has ever dealt with a wireless connection in their home or in public knows that they are not always 100 percent secure, and people are just starting to become aware of how that can affect in-car privacy.
A Complex Issue
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx recently spoke out and expressed concern that the wireless connectivity necessary for GPS navigation, roadside assistance, and countless other apps and devices that are intended to make driving easier could be used to infringe on consumer privacy. He also added that the government is still a long way from taking action.

The problem with wireless connectivity in automobiles is that it is a new frontier for drivers, manufacturers, advertisers, and many others. That makes it a complex issue, one that cannot be easily addressed. For many of these devices to be effective, some amount of consumer data must be collected. For example, in order to tell a driver about nearby restaurants or stores, an app must know about his location. If said app needs to deliver the kind of information that a specific driver would want, it must be able to analyze information such as where the driver frequently likes to go. It needs to know where the driver eats, where he shops, and what kinds of services he may need. It is not unlike the way most advertising happens online through Facebook and other social media sites.

Of course, there are always people who do not like the idea of their private data falling into the hands of advertisers. This has been a major issue for those who spend any amount of time online, and it will be an issue for those who rely heavily on their GPS devices and other navigation apps. They fear that all it would take would be for an unscrupulous advertiser to obtain a person’s private information for them to be bombarded by spam and other unwanted advertisements, not to mention the fact that most people have no business knowing where another person is at all times. That kind of information can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Something Needs to be Done
While the issue of vehicle privacy is on Congress’s radar, they are still apparently a long way from actually passing legislation to protect the privacy of drivers. Still, something needs to be done. People need assurance that their private data will remain private. This means investigating wireless connectivity in vehicles to know exactly what security concerns exist and letting customers know what will happen in the event of a security breach. This may not happen anytime soon, but it needs to happen. Wireless technology is becoming more sophisticated all the time, and people need to know that they are safe at home and on the road.

This article was written by Phillip Thompson, auto blogger.  He loves his new tech savvy car, but is aware of the privacy risks.  He recognizes how technology can be benefit deanships and car buyers alike, and recommends for dealers.