Is Your Car Spying on You?

car spying on you
car spying on you

Has the age of Big Brother arrived and is your car spying on you in secret? A new report reveals that new models from car manufacturers including the likes of Honda, Ford, and General Motors are transferring data to car insurers on customers driving habits in the USA.

The habit started to come to light almost by accident when drivers noticed that there were what seemed to be arbitrary hikes in their insurance premiums despite not having made a claim. 

A report in the New York Times details one such case where a driver went to the length of requesting a “Consumer Disclosure Report’ under the Fair Credit Reporting Act from a data-broker in New York. 

The driver, Mr Dahl, then received a 258-page report that detailed every time he or his wife had driven their Chevy Bolt that included start times, finish times and any incident of fast acceleration or braking.

According to the report, the information had been culled by General Motors, the manufacturer of the car and sold to LexisNexis who then analysed the data to create a risk score for insurers as one factor to create more personalized insurance coverage. Apparently eight insurance companies had requested in formation on Mr Dahl in the one month.

All of this is done without the knowledge of the customer, although if you read around the subject all of the auto-manufacturers named in the New York Times report will tell you that there are layers of consent that you must agree to before they share the date. Poor old Mr Dahl who had a 27% spike in his insurance bill did not agree though.

Traditionally, insurers used bulk demographics to assign risk to groups. Just try getting insurance in the UK if you are a 17-year-old male who owns a two-door coupe, impossible.

So in a way, this could be the advent of a fairer system where your personal driving dictates what rates you pay. Drive sensibly then low rates, be an idiot then pay the price, right?

It turns out though that the manufacturers are not that picky about what data they share and with whom and thus if you value your privacy best be very careful about which box you tick when you pick up your new car.

But there may be nothing that you can do about it. A recent Class action Suit in the US was thrown out in a blow to privacy advocates who maintain the Honda Infotainment system since 2014 have been downloading and storing copies of all text messages received. 

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