Canada privacy association worried about cars connecting personal data

Canada privacy association worried about cars connecting personal data

As our cars get more high-tech and connected, they are increasingly spying on us and sending personal data about us to many different parties — in violation of Canadian privacy laws, a new report warns.

Privacy lawyer Pippa Lawson, who took the lead on the report for the last year, said consumers aren’t being given the option on what information is and isn’t shared with auto manufacturers.

“We found all new vehicles are coming with telematics technology, which means wireless transmissions of vehicle-based data goes back to the manufacturer so the cars are now all electronic and effectively computers on wheels,” he said.

“It’s no longer a radio/stereo, you now have a screen in the car — you can do hands-free communications, Internet browsing, texting, emailing, on-demand radio podcasts … (and) for the most part the companies are saying, ‘We get to keep all the data on your use in our systems.’”

Lawson said the November automakers’ privacy pledge isn’t doing enough to protect people’s privacy, and they’re proposing that industry, policymakers and stakeholders sit down “and work out some specific automobile regulations that put our general data protection laws into practice.”

Ian Jack, spokesman for the Canadian Automobile Association, said they’re advocating for automakers to voluntarily come to the table and agree to give consumers the choice.

“There’s a tsunami of information cars are going to be transmitting about us in the coming years, by 2020,” he said.

“People need to be aware of that and think about who they want to share that information with and what they want to share, and we think the automakers need to make sure people have those choices.”

Jack said it’s still the beginning of the process for cars, unlike mobile phones where it’s already too late to retroactively put privacy measures in place.

“We’re at the beginning of the installation of all of this technology,” he said. “We have a chance to design privacy in at the beginning and not wait until 2025 when your auto manufacturer knows everything about you as well and you say, ‘Oh well, it’s too late now to do anything about it.’”