In today’s age of modern technology and global interconnections, it’s easy to forget just how dangerous all the information collection we’re exposed to can really be. A majority of us are aware that our computers, phones, browsers, etc. are gathering our habits and corresponding data, and selling it. However, did you know that your GM vehicle – as well as vehicles from every other automaker – is likely collecting information about you, and that it pertains to more than just the way in which you drive?
According to a report from the Mozilla Foundation, modern vehicles can be considered privacy nightmares. In fact, of the 25 automobile brands reviewed, every single one was found to collect much more data than was necessary. This may seem trivial, as it has little to no impact on your daily commute, but it goes deeper and gets weirder than one might expect.
For starters, automakers are collecting data that has nothing to do with driving your vehicle. A few ways in which they’re able to access personal data is when users connect their phones to their cars, through the vehicle’s integrated apps and from third-party sources. According to Mozilla’s Privacy Not Included study, GM’s multiple privacy policies indicate they can collect data such as “name, address, geolocation data, characteristics such as age, race, color religion, medical conditions, physical or mental disabilities, sex, gender identify, pregnancy, medical conditions, sexual orientation, genetic, physiological, behavioral, and biological characteristics such as, fingerprints, faceprints, and voiceprints, iris or retina scans, keystroke, gait, or other physical patterns, and sleep, health, or exercise data, audio, electronic, visual, thermal, olfactory, or similar information.”
The study also goes on to list data collection about a user’s driving habits, such as “license plate number, vehicle identification number (VIN), geolocation, route history, driving schedule, speed, vehicle direction (heading), audio or video information such as information collected from camera images and sensor data, voice command information, and infotainment (including radio and rear-seat infotainment) system and WiFi data usage.”
In addition, the research found that 83 percent of automobile brands share that personal data with outside parties, while 76 percent are more than willing to sell the information. The worst part is, 92 percent of brands give drivers little to no control over how automakers use their data.
Update: following the publication of this article, GM reached out to us, stating that “GM takes data privacy very seriously and we are committed to safeguarding our customers’ personal information,” while including a link to GM’s U.S. Connected Services privacy statement.