Do you know what your car knows?

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The Australian Automobile Association (AAA) recently launched the My Car My Data campaign and website to help inform Australians of the emergence of ‘connected’ cars, and what the potential benefits and risks associated with these vehicles might be.

What is a connected car?

Any vehicle that can connect with devices and networks as well as with third parties to provide information about the condition or operation of the vehicle or to assist the driver in safely operating the vehicle. This can include details about the driver/owner.

This includes Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I), Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V), or Vehicle to a third party such as your vehicle’s manufacturer.

‘Telematics’ is the technology behind connected vehicles. 

What data is being collected/transmitted?

Engine performance, including component maintenance of failures

  • Seat belt use
  • GPS location and speed
  • Driving behaviour, such as erratic acceleration and excessive braking
  • Occupant details, through sensors in the seats, seat belt and airbags
  • Mobile phone use and personal information stored on the phone
  • And more.

This can be used to create a detailed profile of driver behaviour and habits, real-time vehicle location and direction, or the use of communication devices.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

AAA Chief Executive Michael Bradley said: “Connected cars offer many consumer benefits. For example, these vehicles can talk to the world around them, helping drivers to be aware of and avoid traffic snarls or dangers on the road. This can help drivers reach their destination more quickly, more safely and more fuel efficiently. In the event of an accident a connected car can alert emergency services bringing help more quickly. 

“But the control of the data generated by these vehicles – and the emerging debate surrounding who gets to access it – is set to pose potential privacy risks and possibly drive up running and repair costs due to impaired competition.

“Like with many other aspects of our modern lives, car technology is evolving far faster than our laws. Governments around the world are wrestling with how to balance innovation and consumer protection.”

Why didn’t I know about this?

At the moment there is no standardised, customer-friendly way in which car makers are required to make customers aware of what data their new car may collect, where it is sent and who owns it. 

Where can I go for more information?