Privacy advocates are wrong on connected cars


The Washington Auto Show is going on this week, where automakers are showing off a bevy of new models of connected vehicles that use their data processing and networking capabilities to provide enhanced convenience, efficiency, safety, and entertainment. However, some detractors see the wealth of vehicle data not as an opportunity for consumers, but as a threat to their privacy. They are wrong, and attempts to create special privacy regulations for cars will do more harm than good.

The availability of more vehicle data will allow innovators to create new apps and services for connected vehicles that will benefit consumers. For example, on-board diagnostics systems — which come standard in vehicles — collect diagnostics data on many aspects of the engine. Until recently, most consumers had no access to this information and only saw a “check engine light.” However, aftermarket devices and smartphone apps now allow users to tap into this data to review diagnostic information, track vehicle stats, and better maintain their vehicles. Just as mobile app developers have used smartphones’ gyroscopes and accelerometers to create innovate apps that do initially unanticipated tasks, such as gauge sleep patterns, so too will car app developers use in-car sensors to create new services in unpredictable and beneficial ways.

While it is certainly important to address legitimate privacy concerns, policymakers should not let hypothetical fears drive the conversation in ways that unnecessarily limit commercial uses of vehicle data.

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Never argue with a pig. It makes you look foolish and it anoys the hell out of the pig!

No they are not..

Quote from article: "...many consumer advocates cite geolocation information as having a high potential for harm because, if collected over time, this information can reveal a detailed profile of an individual’s behavior (e.g., habits and routes). Advocates cite these concerns as a pretext for strict location privacy laws. Unfortunately, such rules would have detrimental effects on a wide range of services that use of geolocation data, such as real-time traffic alerts, remote control, roadside assistance, vehicle recovery, insurance, auto financing, and more."

While I think the collection of vehicle diagnostics can be a good thing, the writer(s) of the article don't seem to grasp the idea of companies providing data for traffic alerts, etc. would somehow be threatened if private data is not collected.

They seem to think that the collection AND STORAGE of data regarding "insurance, auto financing, and more" has no effect on privacy. Providing vehicle services does not mean you have to collect data to sell for flooding the car with ads. This will be how the auto makers make more money.

Wait until the first ad shows up on the vehicle infotainment screen, or Google pops a verbal ad to tell you that some store is having a sale on the next block. Google already pops an ad on my phone every time I go to Lowe's. More distraction ahead.

How is it that Garmin GPS can provide traffic alerts and not want private data in return. Maybe The Hill writers and contributors can explain that to the public someday.

I never get lost, but I do explore new territory every now and then.

what a piece of ...

Having actually worked on the P1609 standard which is used for the Connected Vehicle communications I can say the concerns of privacy are a crock of fecal matter. The safeguards built into the hardware and software prevent the scenario presented by those concerned they would be tracked. The hardware and software have no knowledge of the vehicle other than its position and speed and if there are other vehicles with compatible hardware in the vicinity. The hardware also changes its IP address at irregular intervals so it can't be tracked unless someone was within the vehicle's transmitting area from the moment it started and monitored those changes and coordinated them to the location and speed of the prior address.

You can track a vehicle much more reliably through its electronic toll transponder than its connected vehicle unit as the toll transponder doesn't change. The cell phone carried by the driver or passenger is also a much more reliable source than the Connected Vehicle unit.

Illiterate? Write for free help.

my concern would be forced revealing of data

Something along the lines of a court subpoena requiring disclosure to law enforcement or the other party in a civil lawsuit. We already can't erase air bag memories and this is a much juicier target.


The Ministry of Truth is never wrong!


Privacy and safety

We see how safe AMTRAK is.


Of course history has shown that "standards" written are often, dare I say almost always, changed as time progresses. We shall see what transpires in the next couple of years. But my guess is that data mining is to valuable to let pass just because a "standard" is in the way. Money buys changes.

At any rate, what will the average John & Jane Citizen do with being able to access the vehicles diagnostic history. Nothing. Cars these days need tech-savvy people to make "problem" decisions. But I'm sure their insurance company would like to have that data. Maybe they would like the traffic info and routes taken so they can determine if you having been driving in a high-crime area. Anything to base a rate on would certainly be in their interest.

But of course, standards would prevent any privacy concerns.

I never get lost, but I do explore new territory every now and then.