Credit: Andrey_Popov/


Car Privacy: Could Your Car Help An Abuser Find You?

Written By: CarPro | May 15, 2024 12:45:45 PM

We spent a lot of time in March covering what data your car keeps on you, and what was done with that information.  There are legitimate concerns over car companies selling your driving habits to 3rd parties that in turn, sell the information to insurance companies that can cause cancellations and premium increases.

Now, much more serious concerns come forward.

A United States Representative has reached out to the FCC to question the way domestic abusers are able to track their partners to harass them, intimidate them and potentially harm them.  U.S. House Representative Debbie Dingell of Michigan wrote a letter to the Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission in late April 2024. In it, she stated:

“This letter is in regard to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) attention and interest in addressing the threat of domestic abusers exploiting connectivity tools in vehicles to harass and intimidate their partners. We must take proactive measures to address the areas in which connected vehicles are vulnerable to exploitation, and I am exploring avenues to address this through legislative action.

She continued:

"It is important to provide survivors of domestic violence with secure communication channels free from the threat of stalking and harm. My goal is to also work collaboratively with you, automakers, domestic violence groups, and other stakeholders to ensure well-intentioned technological innovations do not create new challenges and risks for survivors. Perpetrators of domestic violence often utilize methods of surveillance and control against their targets, and it is essential to consider their safety and well-being. Connected vehicles could potentially be exploited by abusers to monitor and track survivors, heightening their sense of vulnerability, and hindering their availability to carry out functions of their everyday life, including going to work, taking their children to school, doing grocery shopping, and more."

To see the entire letter, click here.

More legal questions:  Eight automakers named-Are warrants needed?

Another letter co-authored by Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Edward Markey of Massachusetts bring to light more security questions.  Their questions focus around whether information kept by your car is given to law enforcement by car companies, without a warrant and without the knowledge of the drivers.  The letter went to Lina Khan, the Chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, and asks the FTC to look into eight car companies for falsely claiming a warrant or even a court order before turning over data about location.

The letter starts:

"We write to request that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigate several automobile manufacturers — Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Volkswagen, BMW, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, and Kiafor deceiving their customers by falsely claiming to require a warrant or court order before turning over customer location data to government agencies."

They continue:

"Over the past decade, the auto industry has added internet connectivity to many new cars. This internet connection is used by car companies to deliver software updates, to collect diagnostic data, and to track the movements of the vehicle. But depending on car companies’ practices, these always-on data connections and the location data collected by cars and sent back to the automaker can seriously threaten Americans’ privacy. Vehicle location data can be used to identify Americans who have traveled to seek an abortion in another state, attended protests, support groups for alcohol, drug, and other types of addiction, or identify those of particular faiths, as revealed through trips to places of worship."

Other automakers named:

"Our investigations found that five car companies put their customers’ privacy first by requiring a warrant for location data, absent an emergency or customer consent: GM, Honda, Ford, Tesla and Stellantis. Ford’s warrant policy is recent; the company adopted this higher standard after engaging with Senator Wyden’s office. While less protective of customer privacy, Hyundai’s policy of accepting a warrant or other court orders still meets the bar set by the industry in its voluntary privacy principles."

To see the letter in its entirety, click here.

Which car companies require a warrant and who tells consumers about demands for data?


Here at the Car Pro Show and our weekly newsletter, which you can subscribe to below, we will continue to monitor these developments and keep you informed.

Photo Credit: Andrey_Popov/