As with all technologies, privacy has become a concern in recent years. Things like smart home features, security cameras, and Amazon Alexa come to mind. However, one might not think twice about the data their car has access to. Unfortunately, there is good reason to be concerned about that, too. Modern cars have all kinds of integrated technologies that store your information. The data often goes into a little more detail than you might like.
Driving habits, phone call records, and even photos may remain with your car
According to The Herald, some cars track your driving habits and store a lot of information that you don’t necessarily want others to have access to.
A Washington Post reporter gained access to the engine control unit (ECU) of his 2017 Chevrolet Volt with the help of some car computer expert. The car tracked who was driving it using Bluetooth to identify users who were in the car while they were driving. After that, it stores driving data such as hard braking, acceleration, speed, etc. Tesla cars do, too, but their drivers are aware of this. It’s a slightly different story when there is no knowledge of it happening.
Although it is getting worse. In the ECU, they also found photos from the reporter’s phone. It wasn’t just a coincidence, either. The reporter bought a used ECU from eBay and dug into it too. In that ECU, they found call logs and contact details. In addition, they can see the gas station where the previous owner stopped often and the restaurant they frequented.
Of course, this also means that the car tracks location data. This is relatively not surprising, given that many cars have built-in GPS navigation. Obviously, if your GPS has picked up your regular stops and provided a shortcut to navigate to that location, you know the information is being stored. What’s a little troubling, however, is the idea that anyone might be able to access your car’s ECU and see your home and work locations using the stored data.
Components and voice command tracking may also be in use
A bit of a concern is the vehicle tracking component usage. In fact, this can be very useful. The Herald article specifies things like oil level, coolant temperature, and tire pressure data that are constantly monitored and logged. Unless you’re trying to sell a car that you know hasn’t been well maintained (and you’re trying to hide), there really isn’t a downside to this information being tracked.
On the other end of that spectrum come voice commands. Many modern vehicles allow you to control almost anything from climate to navigation using voice commands. However, these commands may be logged. In accordance with Onstar’s privacy statement, it may collect “Voice Command Information”. Onstar comes standard on many General Motors vehicles such as Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. It seems, perhaps, GM has a curious problem.
In the end, there is no real way to know which vehicles are tracking your movements and information. So, if that’s a major concern, you might want to consider driving a classic car instead! After all, a carburetor will not record your voice!
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