Photo Credit: General Motors.


Continuing Coverage:  Is Your Car Spying On You?

Written By: Jerry Reynolds | Jun 5, 2024 2:00:00 PM

We’ve been bringing information to you for a while now, warning you about the information car companies are selling about your driving habits.  I find it to be deplorable, frankly. 

If you haven't see our first two posts on the subject, let’s get you up to speed:

An article published by the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation caught my eye and I reached out to them to see if they would give permission to share the info with you, and they happily agreed.  It is titled:  It’s Official: Cars Are the Worst Product Category We Have Ever Reviewed for Privacy.

In the article, the nonprofit says:

"Car makers have been bragging about their cars being “computers on wheels" for years to promote their advanced features. However, the conversation about what driving a computer means for its occupants' privacy hasn’t really caught up. While we worried that our doorbells and watches that connect to the internet might be spying on us, car brands quietly entered the data business by turning their vehicles into powerful data-gobbling machines. Machines that, because of all those brag-worthy bells and whistles, have an unmatched power to watch, listen, and collect information about what you do and where you go in your car.

All 25 car brands we researched earned our *Privacy Not Included warning label -- making cars the official worst category of products for privacy that we have ever reviewed."

The nonprofit goes on to say that all the car brands they researched collect too much personal info: 

"We reviewed 25 car brands in our research and we handed out 25 “dings” for how those companies collect and use data and personal information. That’s right: every car brand we looked at collects more personal data than necessary and uses that information for a reason other than to operate your vehicle and manage their relationship with you. For context, 63% of the mental health apps (another product category that stinks at privacy) we reviewed this year received this “ding.” 

The article also reads:

"And car companies have so many more data-collecting opportunities than other products and apps we use -- more than even smart devices in our homes or the cell phones we take wherever we go. They can collect personal information from how you interact with your car, the connected services you use in your car, the car’s app (which provides a gateway to information on your phone), and can gather even more information about you from third party sources like Sirius XM or Google Maps. It’s a mess. The ways that car companies collect and share your data are so vast and complicated that we wrote an entire piece on how that works. The gist is: they can collect super intimate information about you -- from your medical information, your genetic information, to your “sex life” (seriously), to how fast you drive, where you drive, and what songs you play in your car -- in huge quantities. They then use it to invent more data about you through “inferences” about things like your intelligence, abilities, and interests."

It is a fascinating read, but way too long for the space we have, so if you would like to learn more about this, including a rating for each car company on privacy, click here. 

Special thanks to the Mozilla Foundation for allowing us access to their amazing research team.

Photo Credit: General Motors.