Automakers under fire for selling driver data

  • All 25 car brands researched received a failing grade for consumer privacy
  • 84% of the car brands researched share or sell consumer data
  • Expert: "The more technology in your car, the more data collected"

(NewsNation) — Is your car spying on you?

The auto industry has recently come under fire for spying on drivers and sharing consumer data, raising privacy concerns.

And it’s not just surface-level information being shared.

New research released Wednesday revealed that, “Modern cars are a privacy nightmare,” sharing a driver’s personal data like facial recognition and even sexual activity.

Mozilla’s Buyer Guide ranked some of the leading manufacturers on their privacy policies, examining privacy flaws for car companies spanning five countries — the U.S., Germany, Japan, France and South Korea.

All 25 major car brands researched received a failing grade for consumer privacy, earning a “*Privacy Not Included warning label.”

Jen Caltrider, the director of Mozilla’s “*Privacy Not Included,” said there aren’t really any car options for consumers to purchase that don’t collect and share personal data.

Among the worst: Nissan.

The Japanese car manufacturer collects tons of consumer information, including sexual activity, health and genetic data, the report said.

Another top offender is Volkswagen. The company collects demographic data — like age and gender — for marketing purposes, Mozilla’s Buyer Guide revealed.

And then there’s Kia, whose privacy policy says the company can collect information about consumer’s sex life.

“Privacy today is where safety was 20, 25 years ago,” Andrea Amico said.

Amico, the founder of Privacy4Cars, is riding shotgun in the race to protect consumer privacy. His online tool even offers to delete synched personal data from used cars.

“I know a lot of people tell me when they want to take a private phone call they go to their car. And I raise my eyebrow. Reality is, the more technology that is in your car, the more data is collected,” Amico said.

Knowing data is being collected is one thing. Now, the question is what to do about it.

Privacy4Cars is a service that actually deletes personal information from vehicles driven or connected to drivers.

If that’s not the right route for the consumer, drivers are well within their rights to go to the manufacturer and ask for a factory reset or for them to delete the vehicle’s data.

Car companies record data through cameras, apps and other technology within the vehicle. Those are obvious. But people forget that anytime they plug in their cellphone and allow the car access to their phone, it easily collects information then, too.


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