Machines store our important data and often we have concerns
about the protection of our privacy and data location, but we usually have
these concerns in relation to our phones. Another important machine that
collects personal data is one that is often overlooked: the car.
NBC News just shared a report that reveals how much data is
collected by our vehicles, and how it can be used by police or anyone else for
that matter. Vehicles collect all sorts of data without us knowing, which includes
location data, voice recordings and precise information such as the timings of the
vehicle’s doors opening.
NBC quoted examples of cases of a man who was charged with murder because the victim’s truck had a recording of his voice at the time of the killing, and a company called Berla Corp., that has built a business out of extracting data on behalf of police. The data includes unique IDs of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi devices that have connected to a car’s infotainment system, and information like call logs, contacts, and text messages.
Data other than infotainment data that vehicles store
includes logs kept by the car’s internal computer. This indicates that our
vehicles collect a lot of sensitive data, and therefore protection is not
Moreover, this data is not just accessible to the police,
but really anyone can access it. For instance, according to the NBC report, an
Australian man used to access live data from his girlfriend’s Land Rover
through an app. He was then able to control the extracted data to maneuver
certain functions of the vehicle.
Sometimes, even used cars don’t even have information of the
previous owner wiped out before they are sold. This makes it easy for anyone to
track a victim by accessing their phone number and house address.
These findings indicate how important it is to think about the
data that our vehicles store and how we can control it, as the systems are
getting more complex with time and we are sharing more and more of our private
data with these machines that do not guarantee protection.