Your car is spying on you, but a new website helps you learn what's being shared
HOUSTON - If you remember the computer-chip shortage that continues to slow automakers, it's because modern vehicles are computers on wheels and yours is probably spying on you.
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The average new vehicle has more than 1,400 microchips in it, with features that find where you're going, keep you connected, and call for help, among some things you never imagined.
Now, a new website offers to let you know what information it's sharing, and what you can do about it. Most vehicles would be stuck on the side of the road, without all those computer chips. On top of that, many of their convenience features, like GPS, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto mean much of your personal information is used, as well. It's also getting saved and shared.
"Cars are massive data-collection devices that's not any different from the laptop we're on today, or your phone," says Privacy4Cars founder Andrea Amico.
The company deletes personal data from used cars before they’re re-sold, and recently made its database available to consumers, free of charge, because so many are unaware of what's being shared when they go for a drive.
"Less than one in 20 dealers can tell consumers something very basic, like, your car collects a lot of data and the types of data that it collects, and, yes, manufacturers have the right to sell it or share it," says Amico.
The recently launched vehicleprivacyreport.com website is easy to use. Enter the vehicle identification number, or VIN, and a list appears with all the data that a particular vehicle collects and shares with the automaker or third-party vendors. They are details like who you are, where you've gone, biometric details collected by the car’s microphone and camera, and data from your phone like call records, text messages, and contacts. Automakers will say all this is disclosed in the vehicle's "fine-print" which could take hours to read.
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Amico hopes the exposure and conversation will make it all more transparent.
"I think the more people will care, and the more companies will do the right thing and start creating protections for them," he says.
Privacy4Cars has an app that can be used to delete data from a car. That would be particularly useful when renting a car, which collects all that information too, to get rid of it before you hand it back.
To learn more about Privacy4Cars, click here.