Your Car's Surveillance: Profound, Immediate Implications

The rapid rise of smart vehicles has brought to the fore the often-overlooked issue of privacy breaches by car manufacturers, writes Professor Uri Gal from the University of Sydney Business School in The Canberra Times.
Professor Uri Gal

Professor Uri Gal

As cars have transformed into technologically advanced machines, laden with a host of advanced features aimed at enhancing the driving experience, they have silently morphed into spying devices.

The findings of a recent report by the Mozilla Foundation serve as a stark alarm bell, revealing that all 25 surveyed car brands were accumulating excess personal data, leaving drivers with little control over their information.

According to the report, cars are the worst performing product category in terms of privacy protections.

Car manufacturers, covertly mining a wealth of intimate details - from driving habits and location data to more personal smartphone information - are essentially transforming vehicles into rolling data-collection machines.

The report highlights the need to shift our focus towards the automobile industry, which has so far escaped the scrutiny faced by technology giants, despite the significant threats to personal privacy it poses.

What data does your car collect about you?

More than most other products, our cars can collect vast amounts of data about us; what we do, say, and think, as well as about our body. Manufacturers collect this information primarily from our interactions with our cars and their various applications.

Many vehicles are equipped with advanced electronics and sensors, enabling them to connect with other devices, networks, and technologies.

Some examples include telematics systems that collect and transmit data related to the vehicle's operation, and navigation and infotainment systems, some of which connect to our phones through Apple Car Play or Android Auto.

While these technologies offer enhanced safety, comfort, and efficiency, they generate extensive amounts of data about drivers and their behaviour.

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