File Photo: General Motors.


Is Your Car Spying On You?  New Info & GM Reverses Course!

Written By: Jerry Reynolds | Mar 27, 2024 1:32:35 PM

Well, the education continues!  While I wish I could tell you it’s not as bad as I first thought, I think it is actually worse.  The more I research, the more I find.

A website called has done a lot of research on this subject of what your car is finding out about you, and what they are sending and selling. You know from last week’s CarPro Newsletter that your car might be tracking your browsing history. As high-tech features and services become more prevalent in modern vehicles, auto manufacturers collect more detailed customer data than ever.  researched 25 automakers and reports:  84% of the car brands we researched say they can share your personal data -- with service providers, data brokers, and other businesses we know little or nothing about. Worse, 76% say they can sell your personal data. A surprising number 56) also say they can share your information with the government or law enforcement in response to a “request.” Not a high bar court order, but something as easy as an “informal request.”

While car companies disclose what data they collect and how it is gathered, it can be difficult to understand. Privacy policies are often hard to find and filled with legalese and dense language. Some manufacturers even collect sensitive data such as medical and biometric information and details about the sex lives of their customers.

The team at All About Cookies evaluated the official privacy policies of 15 major automotive brands to determine which companies have the most and least accessible data collection disclosures. They analyzed the length, reading level, and data points each manufacturer collects on their drivers.


Key findings 

  • Jeep has the hardest-to-understand privacy disclosures of any major manufacturer. You need to read at a postgraduate level (above a bachelor’s degree) to understand Jeep’s privacy policy.
  • At just over 14,000 words, Kia’s privacy policy is the lengthiest of any major brand.
  • The average number of words in a car privacy policy is 7,505.
  • The average automotive privacy policy requires a 12th-grade (High school senior) education to understand.
  • Mazda’s privacy policy is the easiest to read, requiring an 8th-grade education to understand.



Tips for keeping your personal data safe on and off the road:

  • Make sure your identity is safe no matter where you are. Identity thieves are constantly finding new ways to steal personal data and information. With ever-evolving threats to your identity lurking online, using one of the best identity theft protection services is a crucial step towards staying safe online.
  • Get proactive about what you share with websites. A great way to feel safe and secure online is to take an active role in determining what pieces of information are and are not shared with different websites. Make sure you know how to change your privacy settings online and take control of the information available on different sites.
  • Protect yourself and your computer. The internet is teeming with all kinds of threats to your privacy and digital information, with new ones emerging all the time. Using one of the best VPN services is a good way to keep your data secure online.

To read the entire report from our friends at All About Cookies, click here →



Let’s hope this trend continues across all automakers, but General Motors is doing an about face when it comes to sharing your data.

The decision came in the aftermath of a recent lawsuit filed by a Florida man who claimed sharing his driving data caused his insurance rates to nearly double for his 2021 Cadillac XT6 and led to his rejection by seven other insurance companies late last year, according to 

The New York Times reported earlier that GM had been sharing this driver data for years, with some customers saying they were enrolled without their knowledge in OnStar Smart Driver – an app that collected information about their driving habits and promised feedback and digital badges for good driving.  This prompted the report we did a week ago on your car spying on you.

GM responded quickly to the suit, announcing in an emailed statement that since Wednesday, March 20, “OnStar Smart Driver customer data is no longer being shared with LexisNexis or Verisk,” two companies that had generated risk profiles with the information provided by GM.  

“Customer trust is a priority for us,” GM spokeswoman Malorie Lucich said in the email, “and we are actively evaluating our privacy processes and policies.”

The statement is also echoed on OnStar's FAQ Page, along with links to contact both LexisNexis and Verisk to access reports and learn more.  GM also addresses whether OnStar impacts car insurance rates.  (Scroll down the FAQ Page to the 8, 9 and 10 tabs.)

The Smart Driver program had more than 8 million vehicles registered as of 2022, generating annual revenue for GM in the low millions of dollars, the Times discovered in an internal GM document.

Photo Credit: General Motors.