Modern automobiles collect copious amounts of data ranging from driving habits to the weight of its occupants but this leaves the gray area of ownership and how the data is used.
In addition, vehicles also track how much weight we gain, how many children we have and even financial information. The consulting firm McKinsey estimates modern vehicles collect as much as 25 gigabytes of data per hour with much of that data not involving performance and maintenance.
To make matters worse, drivers often sign away their rights to this information in the small print buried in ownership and lease agreements.
It's unclear what auto manufacturers are doing with this personal information, but Ford’s chief executive, Jim Hackett, has already expressed plans to monetize car data.
This raises privacy concerns as location data can allow companies to advertise based on where you live, work, and frequently travel to while voice-command technology could prove similarly useful.
Even data collection on vehicle operations raises concerns as manufactures can decide which diagnostics information is made available to independent garages verses what information is available to manufacturer affiliated garages which may charge more for repairs.
Drivers can’t inadvertently opt out of data collection by not paying as these systems often collect and send user information regardless. In some cases, the only way to completely disable this technology is by pulling the fuse or completely removing the unit as with GM's OnStar.
Until automakers relinquish control of customer data or policy makers step in, drivers are at the mercy of auto manufacturers concerning customer data collection.