In an era where data privacy is at the forefront of public discourse, a recent report from the Mozilla Foundation reveals alarming gaps in how automakers handle sensitive personal information, raising critical questions about privacy.
This startling study by the Mozilla Foundation shines a light on the vast range of data modern cars collect and share, raising significant questions about user privacy.
According to the Mozilla Foundation report, vehicles today “have an unmatched power to watch, listen, and collect information about what you do and where you go.” Such data collection practices have come under scrutiny, especially considering that Americans spend roughly 300 hours per year driving, according to Axios.
Beyond merely serving as a mode of transport, cars often function as make-shift offices, dining spaces, or even recording studios, making the information collected during those hours incredibly valuable.
The study examined 25 car brands and found that 84% of the car brands actively share or sell personal data, 56% would share data with law enforcement upon an informal request, and 100% of the brands earned the Mozilla Foundation’s “privacy not included” warning label.
One alarming example is Nissan’s privacy notice, which states that the company could share “sensitive personal information, including driver’s license number, national or state identification number, citizenship status, immigration status, race, national origin, religious or philosophical beliefs, sexual orientation, sexual activity, precise geolocation, health diagnosis data, and genetic information.”
While it remains unclear if Nissan actually possesses data on drivers’ genetics or sexual activity, the notice has caused concern for user privacy.
Moreover, the report also points out that as of 2014, 20 automakers (not including Tesla) had signed a voluntary set of automotive privacy principles. However, not a single one of the 20 automakers is currently following the principles they agreed to, according to Mozilla Foundation.
The report concludes with a stinging indictment, “The car companies do clearly know what they should be doing to respect your privacy even though they absolutely don’t do it.”
Today’s cars generate approximately 25 GB of data per hour, which holds a monetary value in the hundreds of billions. As the lines continue to blur the lines between the physical and digital worlds, the privacy implications of the Mozilla Foundation’s revelations could become increasingly consequential.
This news article was partially created with the assistance of artificial intelligence and edited and fact-checked by a human editor.