Your Car is Watching You

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If knowledge is power, there sure is a lot of power lying around out there, waiting for someone to pick it up and use it.

Modern cars are full of computers, and those computers transmit all sorts of data back to the car’s manufacturer: not only data on the car’s performance… but on yours ( Data on your weight, what restaurants you go to, what music you listen to, and your choice of destinations.

And if you connect your smartphone (beware anything that’s sold to you as “smart”!) to your car, watch out! You’ll be sending the manufacturer a lot of personal information expressed in your phone calls and whatever else a smartphone does. I don’t have one.

Although European Union courts have ruled that the information thus collected belongs to you, the car’s owner, here in the U.S. we don’t yet have any laws as to how this information may be used, or by whom–just a set of voluntary guidelines adopted by the industry five years ago.

Who’s to stop the manufacturer from selling your information to whoever wants to pay for it? From turning it over to, say, the IRS or some other government agency? Nobody, actually. What we have here is your car watching you, listening in on you, and reporting all of it back to the manufacturer. And where it goes from there–who knows?

And another thing nobody knows–how to put this genie back into the bottle.