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Transportation Cloud Privacy

Questioning The Privacy Policies Of Data-Collecting Cars (autoblog.com) 85

Remember when Vizio's televisions started collecting data about what shows people were watching? One transportation reporter is more worried about all the data being collected by cars. schwit1 quotes Autoblog: Nowadays, auto manufacturers seem to be tripping over each other pointing out that they offer Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. And more recent phenomenon are announcements -- from companies including Ford and Hyundai -- that they are offering Amazon Alexa capabilities. You talk. It listens... Here's the thing. While it may seem appealing to have all manner of connectivity in cars, there is the other side of that. Without getting all tinfoil hat about this, when your TV set is ratting you out, isn't it likely that your car will? It drives. And watches. And listens. And collects data...
That data could be shared with everyone from auto insurers and advertisers to law enforcement officials and divorce attorneys. But the real problem may be consumers assuming strong privacy protections that don't actually exist. The article argues that GM's privacy policy "is like most privacy policies, which boils down to: You use it (the device, software, etc.), you potentially give up a portion of your privacy."
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Questioning The Privacy Policies Of Data-Collecting Cars

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  • "...Do you, Herbie the Love Bug, swear to tell the truth, the whole truth..."
    • Still driving my 22 year old Eclipse GSX with no onboard recording devices. That's the way I like my cars. Very surprised people are going along with the 1984 snooping on everyone thing. It was supposed to be a cautionary tale.

      • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday February 27, 2017 @08:18AM (#53937725)

        Still driving my 22 year old Eclipse GSX with no onboard recording devices.

        I drive WAY too much for that to be a realistic option for me. My current daily driver is a 2009 and I already have over 160,000 miles on it. If I were to keep it for 22 years at my current annual mileage I'd have over half a million miles on it at that point. It's a good vehicle but I have little confidence it will still be on the road after that much use. Mine doesn't transmit any data about my location either. I think it has an onboard black box but I'm not worried about that.

        Very surprised people are going along with the 1984 snooping on everyone thing. It was supposed to be a cautionary tale.

        Cautionary but complicated. I carry a smartphone because it adds significant value to my daily life. Yes it could in principle be used in a dystopian fashion but in reality it isn't. Like nuclear power or genetic engineering, the technology is neutral and whether it is a force for good or ill depends on how it is used. There are very positive benefits to tracking location and performance parameters of a vehicle. There also are some drawbacks. It's not all 1984 where everything has taken the worst possible outcome.

        • by The Real Dr John ( 716876 ) on Monday February 27, 2017 @08:33AM (#53937785) Homepage

          Yeah, everything can be used for good or evil including snooping, but capitalism and greed often shift that equation in the direction of evil. Google even mentioned the fact in their early days (do no evil). Then they started full scale snooping. So if this were a more perfect world, I would agree that there is only a low chance that all the snooping will turn out poorly for everyone. In reality, privacy is going to become a very rare commodity, and I suspect that capitalism will figure a way to make lots of money by selling it to rich people who are inundated with snooping. For the rest of us, we get the ad laden version of everything, with snooping built in.

          • Yeah, everything can be used for good or evil including snooping, but capitalism and greed often shift that equation in the direction of evil.

            If nobody bothers to put up a fight then yes. But the evil that corporations do can be overcome. One only has to look at the number of regulations we have to see evidence that we can limit corporations. Corporations can be muzzled if enough people bother to care.

            Google even mentioned the fact in their early days (do no evil). Then they started full scale snooping.

            "Do no evil" was marketing from day one. Anyone who didn't realize that was either naive or an idiot. Google is an advertising company and has been from jump street. Anyone who didn't realize that they would behave with the incentives relevant

            • I see some efforts in this direction, like the EFF, but most people don't seen to care much at all. Until people actually start running into problems (like getting turned down for a good job because of a dumb post on Facebook) they don't care when only other people get screwed. We'll see how it goes over the next couple of years, but I expect that the system is so entrenched now that turning it off will prove much harder than turning it on was.

            • by thomn8r ( 635504 )
              One only has to look at the number of regulations we have to see evidence that we can limit corporations

              Good luck with that under the current administration.

        • Yes it could in principle be used in a dystopian fashion but in reality it isn't.

          WHAT? In what teletubby/mylittlepony world are you living where it isn't?

          Obviously it's not used in a perfectly smooth dystopian fashion where the Powers That Be are perfectly evil and entirely omnipotent, but even a partly functional and limited-power evil (basically, what humanity faced since the Black Monolith gave it weapons) is enough to worry about...

      • According to how companies and governments use it 1984 was a How-To book.
      • by mspohr ( 589790 )

        So, you don't carry a phone in your car?

        • Don't need a cell phone. Use the wife's if I ever do need one. I don't need to talk with people when driving, and in my experience, most other people are just chatting anyway. If I traveled a lot I would get one. I think that most cell phone use is unnecessary. I am a computer guy, I build my own, I have 7 here, 5 of which are used just about every day. So that's where I get my tech fix. :)

  • My daily drivers are going on 17 years old, and one has almost 200K miles. But they won't last forever and I will have to replace them.

    In the mean time I carry a phone that knows everywhere I go. (At least I could turn it off when I'm not using it – if I was paranoid. And yes thanks, I know that just because I'm not paranoid it doesn't mean "they" aren't out to get me.)

    • by WheezyJoe ( 1168567 ) <feggNO@SPAMexcite.com> on Monday February 27, 2017 @08:45AM (#53937817)

      Like, how does my Google Maps app know to turn the map red when there's traffic up there? The cars ahead of me have Android phones in them, right? Whether or not the app is open and running on the dash, right? How else does Google Maps know to go yellow just after I see a traffic light way ahead of me turn red and cars start to slow down?

      I got an iPhone, so I'm assuming Google Maps isn't reporting on me unless I have the app open. But maybe Android is different, feeding Google with this info all the time to provide Maps with such amazing up-to-the-minute info? I mean, this is going on during the afternoon commute, so it's an easy guess the drivers ahead of me aren't actually using their Map app on the familiar ride home, and yet Maps knows when there's traffic. So, we're being watched already.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Google ingests data from transportation department sensors. Virtually all of them expose an API to let you get real-time(ish) traffic data. Some, you have to pay for.

        • Those are on highways, but the map apps know road conditions where there aren't sensors. Try it out sometime, they're obviously using some swarm data from the cell phones.
          • Google owns both Google Maps and Waze. They're getting data from other users of these services. On Waze, it'll even show little icons on the map to indicate other Waze users, so of course they're getting traffic data from other users.

            Obviously, this is much more useful in denser locales.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I got an iPhone, so I'm assuming Google Maps isn't reporting on me unless I have the app open.

        Google Maps may not be, but your iPhone is. Apple has the iPhone report the same information for their traffic that Google does. It also constantly reports your location and nearby wifi MAC addresses to help Apple build a location database based on wifi hotspots, since they're too cheap to use the existing services that drive around their own cars to do the same thing.

        • Apple has the iPhone report the same information for their traffic that Google does.

          AFAICT my Android phone doesn't report this kind of information, because I have both WiFi and cell data turned off unless I'm using them. Also, I have location disabled - provided that it's really disabled, and not just in stealth mode. I'm in the fortunate position of not needing to be constantly connected, and I have a standalone GPS for the times when I need directions. I think a LOT more people could easily treat their phones the same way, but don't because they're lazy and/or oblivious.

          Yes, I can stil

      • I mean, this is going on during the afternoon commute, so it's an easy guess the drivers ahead of me aren't actually using their Map app on the familiar ride home, and yet Maps knows when there's traffic. So, we're being watched already.

        It's not unusual to use one's navigation device to provide notifications of upcoming traffic congestion, so more people may well be using their devices than you imagine.

    • Most cars that age are new enough to have a mostly modern system that is fuel injected and everything is computer controlled, and so you can usually buy a brand new aftermarket engine.

      I drive a 2000 model year, and it would cost about $5000 for a new engine and transmission, and about $2500 for installation. Installation is about the same for both as for just one, because you have to take them both out and put them back anyways. Now, it is true that $7500 is more than the "value" of the car, but it is also

  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Monday February 27, 2017 @08:06AM (#53937695)
    Even if an automaker gets a new car purchaser to agree to an unconscionable contract of adhesion, what about someone who buys a used car and who was never even given a chance?
    • Having admittedly not had any firsthand experience with this, I'd imagine that during the setup process for adding their account or devices they'd be forced to agree to the same onerous terms and conditions, thus circumventing the issue.

      • by thomn8r ( 635504 )
        I'd imagine that during the setup process for adding their account or devices they'd be forced to agree to the same onerous terms and conditions

        Or just unilaterally change the terms and conditions like virtually every other company does.

  • At least one manufacturer will see the marketing value of ''the car that does not spy on you'' - support them with your wallet: buy their cars, the others will get the point. OK: I agree that 90% of people will not care, but 10% is still a good market base.

    • At least one manufacturer will see the marketing value of ''the car that does not spy on you'

      More likely one manufacturer will TRY that marketing angle and then quickly figure out that very few people actually give half a shit about their privacy and abandon the attempt. The siren call of all that cash will simply be too much for them to resist for long.

      • Get a Mazda; there's nothing there spying on you as far as I can tell. The infotainment systems in the latest models do not have cellular modems, so they have no way to communicate with the outside world unless you pair it to your phone, which is entirely optional. These systems are also easily hacked into, and enthusiasts have done this and made all kinds of changes; if there were spying going on, someone would have noticed by now.

        There is a downside, however: the biggest complaint people have about Mazd

  • If something is right out in the open, how is it private?

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      In a similar vein, if something is broadcast on radio or TV, how is it not being placed into the public domain?
    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      The privacy of the crowd. Someone sitting on the stoop watching people go by is just a people watcher. If he starts following you around ducking around a corner when you look back, he's a stalker.

      • The privacy of the crowd. Someone sitting on the stoop watching people go by is just a people watcher. If he starts following you around ducking around a corner when you look back, he's a stalker.

        If he starts making records of everywhere you go, your route there, how long you remain and what purchases you make and who with he is a corporation violating your privacy.

        You see in public you don't have an expectation to not be seen. You do have an expectation that you won't be tracked, or at least you used to have before the corporate espionage state took over.

  • by Sqreater ( 895148 ) on Monday February 27, 2017 @09:01AM (#53937885)
    One high tech car, because it is becoming impossible to avoid, and one "burner car" for travelling with more privacy. The burner car would be an antique, or close. eschewing all high tech gadgetry.
  • Publicly traded company will always whatever is in their stockholders best interest (as they are required to do so by law) which forces businesses to behave like sociopathic entities. Since there are no repercussions for losing sensitive data related to your customers, it's only a benefit to collect and sell the information. Any publicly traded company will harvest as much data as they can to sell as long as the extent of their actions remains hidden (exposure is bad for business and thus they must be avo

    • Publicly traded company will always whatever is in their stockholders best interest (as they are required to do so by law)

      No, they aren't. Putting it in bold doesn't make it any more true.

    • Publicly traded company will always whatever is in their stockholders best interest (as they are required to do so by law) which forces businesses to behave like sociopathic entities.

      It's not the law. It's the jungle.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      Since there are no repercussions for losing sensitive data related to your customers, it's only a benefit to collect and sell the information. Any publicly traded company will harvest as much data as they can to sell as long as the extent of their actions remains hidden (exposure is bad for business and thus they must be avoid it by law).

      The law does not mandate directly or indirectly behaving like a "dumb fuck".

      This is the dystopian present we live in. There is no need to deny it but there is a need to reform the system because this behavior has led to many harmful and extremely shortsighted decisions.

      Before you can reform anything you must understand the problem.

  • I wonder if those guys with the kickstarter have discovered any commands to send over vehicle CANBUS that'll wipe the memory of any collected data? I'd pay for that. Insert a dongle daily that wipes everything.
  • Here we have a situation where people protest that the truth will be known. Do people want the right to lie in divorce court or to lie to insurance companies or to lie about who caused a wreck? It seems as if the American public fears its own stink. Have we reached the point at which America can not survive without lies being a standard norm of behavior? Also keep it in mind that truth works in all directions. If you own stock in an insurance company people that lie are stealing your money. It ma
    • Here we have a situation where people protest that the truth will be known. Do people want the right to lie in divorce court or to lie to insurance companies or to lie about who caused a wreck? It seems as if the American public fears its own stink.

      What you seem to be saying privacy = hiding evidence of truth.
      Hiding truth is bad therefore privacy is bad.

      What's your Slashdot password?

      Have we reached the point at which America can not survive without lies being a standard norm of behavior? Also keep it in mind that truth works in all directions. If you own stock in an insurance company people that lie are stealing your money. It may be your wife that can't explain why she parks at Tom's house when she is supposed to be at work. You may well get child custody if you offer strong evidence of her adultery. The problem with wanting to live a covert life is that you give the same privilege to everyone else and at some point your kids figure out that you are full of lies and they get all messed up and turn to drugs. Maybe it is time to insist upon truth from all people.

      Your living in a fantasy world. You can insist upon truth from all people as much as you want. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN. Neither is it feasible to assume available evidence will be used for righteous causes or causes unjustly aimed against you. The world is not populated by enlightened saints neither are the "benefits" of surveillance distributed evenly.

      In the corporate co

  • I for one refuse to ever buy any car that can (and therefore does) connect to the manufacturer and send collected data back.

    That includes all GM brand cars (Chevvy, Buick, Cadillac, GMC) because you literally can't buy any model from any of them without OnStar coming already built-in. Also all Teslas and most other electric vehicles phone home.

  • It has already been shown that in many (read:all) new cars there is already a black box that was surreptitiously installed by manufacturers and only came out because its contents were subpoenaed. At the time this black box recorded location, speed, brake/accelerator activity, seat belt usage, etc. The auto industry claimed that these were only used for warranty support and for troubleshooting but the information they are collecting is too comprehensive to make this excuse laughable. Doing this through wi
  • Not worth the bits they're made of. You have absolutely no way of ever knowing where your data goes.

  • Data collected by a car can't be used without a prior individual court order to do so in this state.

    Just saying.

An egghead is one who stands firmly on both feet, in mid-air, on both sides of an issue. -- Homer Ferguson

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