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Thanks to “consent” buried deep in sales agreements, car manufacturers are tracking tens of millions of US cars

Boing Boing – by Cory Doctorow

Millions of new cars sold in the US and Europe are “connected,” having some mechanism for exchanging data with their manufacturers after the cars are sold; these cars stream or batch-upload location data and other telemetry to their manufacturers, who argue that they are allowed to do virtually anything they want with this data, thanks to the “explicit consent” of the car owners — who signed a lengthy contract at purchase time that contained a vague and misleading clause deep in its fine-print.  

Car manufacturers are mostly warehousing this data (leaving it vulnerable to leaks and breaches, search-warrants, government hacking and unethical employee snooping), and can’t articulate why they’re saving it or how they use it.

Much of this data ends up in “marketplaces” where data-sets from multiple auto-makers are merged, made uniform, and given identifiers that allow them to be cross-referenced with the massive corporate data-sets that already exist, and then offered on the open market to any bidder.

After being asked on multiple occasions what the company does with collected data, Natalie Kumaratne, a Honda spokeswoman, said that the company “cannot provide specifics at this time.” Kumaratne instead sent a copy of an owner’s manual for a Honda Clarity that notes that the vehicle is equipped with multiple monitoring systems that transmit data at a rate determined by Honda.

Boing Boing

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4 Responses to Thanks to “consent” buried deep in sales agreements, car manufacturers are tracking tens of millions of US cars

  1. Enemy of the State says:

    I’ll stick with my old reliables

  2. Bud Fox says:

    Sure do love carburetors…now more than ever.

  3. Bill in IL says:

    Completely illegal of course. But that won’t stop these brazen crooks.

  4. NewVegasBadger says:

    Many contracts need to be read the same way, the newspapers need to be read; to find the important facts, start at the very end and work your way to the front/head lines. Companies know that most people will not take the time to read the long, complicated and difficult to understand contracts. But if you sign any contract without reading ALL of it before you put your name on the line, then it is on you.

    The older I get, the more I do miss the old school way doing things.

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