When we think of digital gadgets around us that can be a privacy concern, the car is rarely ever in the top 10 of anyone’s list. However, a recent Mozilla Foundation study has found that it is not only a privacy concern, but the worst offender of it. The study reviewed 25 car brands and found that every single one of them was collecting more personal information about the users than it needed. Additionally, it also found that 84 percent of them sold the data. Making matters worse, 92 percent of the car brands gave the drivers little control over their own data, meaning users cannot have their data deleted from the company server if they wanted to.
Mozilla Foundation, the company behind the open-source Firefox web browser, has published multiple reports under its ‘Privacy not included’ series which highlights privacy concerns in different product and service categories. For this series, it picked 25 brands including Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Audi, Ford, Volkswagen, Toyota, Hyundai, Fiat, Nissan, and more.
In its report, the Mozilla Foundation started by calling modern cars a “privacy nightmare” and added, “All 25 car brands we researched earned our *Privacy Not Included warning label — making cars the official worst category of products for privacy that we have ever reviewed.”.
Privacy concerns in modern cars
The report highlights that all of them collect more data than what is necessary by combining various touchpoints. It stated, “They can collect personal information from how you interact with your car, the connected services you use in your car, the car’s app (which provides a gateway to information on your phone), and can gather even more information about you from third party sources like Sirius XM or Google Maps”.
Shockingly, it even collects data on users’ sex life (both Nissan and Kia were noted to collect information regarding this), where a user drives, the songs played in the car, and more. The report states that the companies use this data to invent even more data through ‘inference’ about the user such as intelligence, abilities, and interests.
The report also mentioned that 84 percent of the brands reviewed were found to share users’ personal data with service providers, data brokers, and other businesses with little to no records. Concerningly, 76 percent of them say they can sell users’ data.
Finally, 92 percent of the brands, meaning all but two brands, Renault and Dacia, do not give the drivers an option to have their personal data deleted from the servers if they want to.