Privacy and data collection in the automobile industry is a massive concern for buyers and regulators. Faye Francy, head of a vehicle cybersecurity organization, was shocked to find her new car’s navigation system directed her to the previous owner’s home. This raises concerns about how much of your personal data may be left in a used car’s infotainment center. In California, the state’s Privacy Protection Agency is now investigating data privacy practices of connected vehicle manufacturers and the suppliers who provide them.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been overseeing the automobile industry for several years. A former official mentioned that the same surveillance issues the FTC tackled in a previous case with Sears could be used to shape a new action against connected cars. It has suggested that the acquisition of personal data without clear consumer consent could be considered an unfair and deceptive act, thus grounds for enforcement. However, the agency has yet to take any formal enforcement action.

As privacy in the automotive industry has gained notoriety and acknowledgement from lawmakers, questions have been raised about disclosed data collection details. Certain manufacturers’ policies have been vague about their privacy practices, and others have apparently removed references to collecting sensitive data after being called out in the media. Policymakers like Senator Ed Markey are now calling for greater transparency and limitations on data collection in the industry. With consumers left in the dark, it’s clear that there are many issues regarding privacy and data collection in the automobile industry that need to be addressed.


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