Drivers are not allowed to request that their data be deleted

Privacy is a huge topic today due to the number of location tracking services available on nearly every gadget we own, and especially after revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) surveillance programs. Now, a new government report revealed that privacy in our vehicles may be another concern. 

According to The Detroit News, the Government Accountability Office discovered that major automakers have separate policies regarding the amount of data they collect and how long they keep it. The government report was released Monday, and covered Detroit’s Big Three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co.

Vehicles today are loaded with technology that tracks driver locations in order to help them find a destination, navigate traffic, find the closest gas station, etc. While this is generally understood by drivers, the government report revealed that the major automakers not only carry different policies on how much data they collect and how long it's retained, but that they also don't allow drivers to request that their data be deleted. 


The report didn't reveal individual policies by automaker, but the good news is that none of them were selling personal data of owners. However, privacy advocates still worry that drivers are not aware of the risks, and that this data could eventually be marketed to individuals and lead to invasion of privacy.  

None of the automakers revealed how long they keep data in the report, but separately, reports state anywhere from 24 hours to seven years. One company (which wasn't identified in The Detroit News report) denied collecting any data at all. 

“Details of the industry’s strict privacy policies are traditionally included in our sales and service agreements,” said the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers spokeswoman Gloria Bergquist. The Alliance represents Detroit’s Big Three automakers, Toyota, Volkswagen AG and others. “That way, we ensure our customers have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with these strict privacy policies.”

The government report suggested that automakers keep location data safe by de-identifying it, only keep location data as long as they need and delete the data after a certain amount of time.

The report was requested by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who said he plans to reintroduce his location privacy legislation sometime in 2014. 

Source: The Detroit News

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