The BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association (FIPA) has released a year-long study on privacy, consumer choice and onboard vehicle technology. The Connected Car: Who is in the Driver’s Seat? was written by privacy lawyer Philippa Lawson and generously funded by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
The Connected Car: Who is in the Driver’s Seat? looks at how vehicles have changed from simple means of transportation to computers on wheels able to navigate, diagnose vehicle health, monitor driver behavior, accommodate usage-based insurance programs and provide customized on-board infotainment services.
The same technologies that allow for safer, more convenient and more entertaining cars enable the collection and processing of enormous amounts of data. Much of this data is personal information, and some of it reveals intensely private details of a person’s life. Some data can be used to track and profile customers for marketing and other purposes. The non-essential collection of data for data-mining and market research opens the door to a range of privacy risks that include security breaches, malicious access and state surveillance.
The Connected Car report finds that the usage-based insurance programs now offered in Ontario and Quebec generally comply with Canadian privacy law, but automakers providing Connected Car services are failing to meet their legal obligations. Too often, consumers are given limited choice when it comes to the use and disclosure of their personal data collected by Connected Cars. Click here to see a summary table of our privacy analysis.
Recent polls show that Canadians are concerned about privacy in the context of Connected Cars. A March 2015 poll conducted for the Canadian Automobile Association found that 50% of respondents thought that Connected Car technologies put their privacy at risk while offering little benefit to consumers and only 28% thought benefits outweighed privacy risks. Only 37% of respondents would agree to monitoring in exchange for an insurance discount, while 53% would not. At 74%, most respondents thought car makers should be required to design technology that would mean consumers wouldn’t have to choose between the benefits of technology and protecting privacy.
The good news is that Connected Cars are still at a stage in their development where there’s time to address these privacy challenges. With Connected Cars set to dominate North American markets in the coming years, now is the time to get serious about setting industry standards and putting them in place. FIPA looks forward to working with automakers, technology firms, policy makers, the insurance sector, government and the public is bringing these report recommendations to life:
There has never been a better time to put privacy protection in your driveway.