Balancing privacy and safety in our connected vehicles – it comes down to common sense

  • December 19, 2016
  • Scott at LoJack

With vehicles now offering more digital connectivity than ever before, privacy has emerged as an important consideration for vehicle owners.

The same concerns about balancing safety and privacy that are present when browsing the Web or using apps on a computer or phone now extend to our vehicles.

The apps we use in our vehicles will collect personal data. Connected car services, using advanced GPS-based telematics technology and plugging into the vehicle’s On-Board Diagnostic (OBD II) System, offer the ability to monitor the location of our vehicles, and even receive alerts when a vehicle has been moved unexpectedly, or has been involved in a crash, or has left a virtual geographical boundary.

How do we balance being safe and giving us peace of mind, while maintaining privacy?

Here are two considerations about data privacy that consumers should keep in mind:

  • Monitoring loved ones: The ability to receive instant crash notifications or car movement alerts using telematics systems provides peace of mind for families. For example, parents could receive a notification when a child driving a family vehicle safely reaches their destination. In this case, it will be up to parents, who know their children best, to weigh how closely they need to monitor their children versus giving them a level of privacy. Some parents make similar assessments around their children’s online behavior and TV viewing. These telematics systems are designed to give consumers tools that help them keep loved ones safe, and each family may use them differently according to their situation.
  • Collecting personal data: For connected car apps and services to fit seamlessly into our connected lives, they must collect data – both from onboard sensors and from downloaded apps used by the consumer. Consumers should be fully aware of how the data is used. They should also be careful to download apps from trusted developers or brands, and carefully read the “terms of use” and “privacy policy” for any apps or services that they use. The provider of the apps and services – OEMs, dealers or developers – should be fully transparent about what they do with the data they collect, including whether they share information with third parties.

In the age of the connected car, consumers have power over issues around privacy, security, and ownership of data.

Being informed about how data are used by these connected car apps and services, and what the potential benefits are, is the first step in keeping your data safe.