Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ford Exec: “We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing.”

The New York Times, in a new article, The Next Battle for Privacy May Be Waged Inside Your Car, reports that at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas:
Jim Farley, Ford Motor Company’s top sales executive, who is known for making off-the-cuff comments, told a panel at the CES: “We know everyone who breaks the law. We know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing.” Although he quickly added, “By the way, we don’t supply that data to anyone,” and later issued a full retraction, the comments, even if overblown and meant to be provocative, fueled the concerns.
     Google, which earns money by tracking computer users' habits (and scanning their emails) and brokering ads targeted at them, recently announced a partnership with G.M., Audi, Honda and Hyundai to bring Android to vehicles by the end of 2014.
2015 Corvette Z06, via Jalopnik
     G.M. has introduced a camera in 2015 Corvettes which will be one facet of a so-called Performance Data Recorder that records speed (via GPS), gear selection and brake performance, going much further in recording driver habits and location than already-intrusive, government-mandated Event Data Recorders, the "black boxes" in new cars.
     Obviously, all the data in these new devices could be subpoenaed in litigation by adversaries or by insurance companies and used against either the drivers or owners of the vehicles, or both.  
     Kahliah Barnes, of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told the Times: “Consumers should decide what level of surveillance they want to be under. None of that should be on default. You should have to opt in.”
     The EPIC is quite disturbed about the potential of Event Data Recorders, Performance Data Recorders and technologies like GM's OnStar to compromise personal privacy:
Automobiles are integrating computing technology that enhance the ability of others to collect location and operation data in near real time. In the data driven economy this data is of value. There are only 13 states with laws that address EDRs and vehicle operators.
  • Lack of consumer knowledge of the technology's presence in vehicles
  • Driver Access to EDR data
  • Security of EDR data to assure chain of custody and accuracy
  • Transparency on each type of event that would trigger data collection
  • Universal law that outlines the purpose of the data collection and limits the use of EDR data to the purpose of the collection
  • Driver control (ownership) of data
  • Integration of EDR data collection with non-vehicle operation related features
  • There are no limits on the number of data elements that NHSTA may require in the future
  • There are no limits on EDR data collection, retention and use by third-parties

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