Privacy Commissioner of Canada concerned about data collection in connected cars

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Cars are changing and so are the habits of Canadian drivers.

Recent technology developments with the auto industry have brought forth new privacy issues that could signal additional regulations for those operating vehicles on Canadian roads.

Ford, BMW, Tesla, VW, General Motors, and other car manufacturers have all developed connected cars of the future focused on gathering data.

“Modern cars are more than simply vehicles. They have become smartphones on wheels — mobile sensor networks, capable of gathering information about, and communicating with, their internal systems, other vehicles on the road, and local infrastructure,” said Daniel Therrien, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, in his opening statement to the Senate Committee on Transportation and Communications (TRCM). “This information is not strictly about the car; it can be associated with the car’s driver and occupants, and used to expose patterns or make inferences about those people for a number of purposes not all related to safe transportation.”

The ‘Connected Car’ generally features two types of data collection. Telematics, which are the embedded sensors for navigation, and the infotainment systems that deliver information to the driver in the form of traffic alerts, weather forecasts, or streaming audio services such as Apple Music, Google Play Music, or Spotify.

The main concerns expressed by the Privacy Commissioner are that there is no real accountability for the flow of data.

“Which company or public sector institution would the average driver contact when they have a privacy concern? When a person sells their car, or returns their rental, is there an easy mechanism to ensure that infotainment systems are thoroughly wiped such that no one has inappropriate access to information about them? How are collections, uses and disclosures of information being communicated to individuals, so that they have a real choice in providing consent or not to services that are not essential to the functioning of the car?”

Apparently, Canadians are “greatly concerned” about the lack of clarity and accessibility of privacy policies. As a result, the Privacy Commissioner is looking into making enhancements to the consent process of those driving a connected vehicle that will benefit both industry and consumers.

Last week, a $1 billion partnership between the federal government, the provincial government of Ontario and Ford Canada, was announced that will see Ford open the Ottawa Research and Engineering Centre. The focus of the R&D centre will be on infotainment, in-vehicle modems, gateway modules, driver-assist features and autonomous vehicles.

This article was originally published on MobileSyrup

Ian Hardy

Ian Hardy

Ian is the Director of Partnerships for BetaKit. He's been quietly creating and building things for years and is completely addicted to Tim Hortons.