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California Privacy Regulator Investigates Automotive Industry Over Data Use

 |  July 31, 2023

Modern vehicles that double as connected computers are the subject of a California state agency’s investigation into automotive privacy. The California Privacy Protection Agency (CPPA) is concerned by the growing volume of data collected by cars and is making inquiries about vehicles with features like location sharing, web-based entertainment, smartphone integration, and cameras.

During this investigation, the CPPA’s executive director, Ashkan Soltani, made a pertinent observation. “Modern vehicles are effectively connected computers on wheels,” said Soltani. “They’re able to collect a wealth of information via built-in apps, sensors, and cameras, which can monitor people both inside and near the vehicle.”

According to Reuters, vehicle privacy considerations are especially critical because these vehicles often automatically gather consumers’ locations, personal preferences, and details about their daily lives. Regulators around the world have raised concerns about the volume of personal data collected by vehicles for entertainment, performance, and safety purposes.

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In 2019, for example, Dutch Data Protection Authority board member, Katja Mur, noted how Tesla cars parked on streets could be taking way too many images of anyone who passes by the vehicle. “Many Teslas parked on the street were often filming everyone who came near the vehicle, and these images were being saved for a very long time,” said Mur. “If every car were to do that, we’d have a situation where no one could go anywhere in public without being watched.”

In response to the Dutch Data Protection Authority’s inquiry, Tesla did make changes to vehicle security cameras to help ensure people’s privacy. Nevertheless, new businesses, like Stellantis’ Mobilisights, have arisen to capitalize on the data cars and other connected devices collect. This new business unit aims to license data to a wide range of customers, including rival carmakers.

The CPPA’s investigation intends to uncover whether automotive companies are properly disclosing and protecting the vast amounts of data that these companies collect. We can only hope that meaningful changes are made and that people’s privacy is prioritized. In the words of Soltani, “We’ve seen a rapid growth of vehicle features that are collecting personal data with few protections for consumer privacy. The CPPA’s investigation aims to ensure the responsible use of data and that individuals’ personal data remains secure.”

Source: Finance Yahoo