Where does it all go and how are you protected? – WHEELS.ca

Just bought a new Tesla and dig how it’s changing over time via over-the-air updates? We hear you. There’s something appealing about waking up in the morning and discovering that your car has more features, more electric range or even better, more performance!

Tesla has opened the door to the whole concept of the connected car, a trend that the entire automotive industry is only just beginning to catch up to. Over-the-air updates are not only beneficial for the consumer, they are also excellent for the automaker, as it allows them to diagnose a vehicle much more accurately and fix problems quickly while on the go.

But the connected car is also a data collector object. Just like your smartphone and computer, the automobile of tomorrow will not only collect a ton of information from its software and hardware, but also about you and your passengers.

This opens the door to important ethical questions, such as the type of data collected, where it goes and how, as a consumer, you can ensure that your information is secure. Intrigued by this new automotive reality, we decided to dig deeper to learn more about the subject.

What is automotive data collection currently used for?

As of this writing, major automakers say they collect all kinds of information about your automobile to improve its performance. With over-the-air updates, the company that built your car, truck, or SUV can update your infotainment system to keep up with new trends, add features, or even change the way how your automatic transmission changes gears.

These updates go so far as to readjust some of your vehicle’s electronic systems, such as traction and stability control software, ABS, semi-autonomous driving assistance technology such as cruise control adaptive and automatic emergency braking. The beauty is that it’s all done overnight while you sleep. It is not necessary to bring your car to the store.

In addition, new automobiles are now equipped with cameras, radars and sensors. These are used for a variety of different applications, either to assist the driver with parking maneuvers or simply to help hitch a trailer to your van.

But these technologies also act like your car’s senses to collect data. In other words, whatever these cameras, radars and sensors see, the automaker also sees.

Have you ever noticed the cabin camera located just above the rearview mirror of a Tesla? The content of this camera is accessible by Tesla anytime, anytime. And it gets even scarier than that: every time you connect your smartphone to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, the automaker has access to your phone’s content. This means that your contacts, calls, text messages, apps you’ve used and downloaded, and websites you’ve visited are all transmitted over the air.

For more on this, we caught up with the CEO of a major automaker who preferred to remain anonymous for privacy and legal reasons. This person, who didn’t want his company in the spotlight, explained to us that most, if not all, automakers currently collect a ton of data from cameras, sensors, and over-the-air updates. The problem is that they still don’t know what to do with it.

Scary? Yes.

What was meant by this statement is that car manufacturers seek to make these data collection practices ever more lucrative, either by selling the information to third parties or by offering consumers subscription services based on personalized data collection.

connected cars

Fortunately for the consumer, they are currently blocked by strict data protection laws. According to our contact, no car manufacturer currently sells our data. At least not yet. But discussions have been initiated with insurance companies on this subject.

“I would be lying if I told you that we haven’t spoken with the insurance companies about how we can work together in this data collection reality, but we’re not currently doing anything with the data except improving our vehicles. “, did he declare. we.

“Would we like to do more? Damn yes! But there are so many ethical and legal puzzles surrounding it all that we just don’t know where to start.”

How protected are we really?

What if your data was in fact used by third-party companies? How are you protected and what kind of rights do you have as a consumer? We contacted the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPCC) for information on the matter.

According to Vito Pilieci, Senior Communications Advisor, CHC ensures compliance with the Privacy Act, the Federal Public Sector Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), the federal private sector privacy law that applies to data collection. .

PIPEDA generally sets out a number of obligations for organizations such as car manufacturers. For example, automobile manufacturers operating in Canada, like any other company involved in data collection, are responsible for collecting personal information under their control. Personal information may only be used or disclosed for the purposes for which it was collected; in this case improve the performance of your car.

These data must then only be kept for the time necessary to achieve these purposes. All personal information collected must then be protected by appropriate security measures.

But while the OPPC already has a set of protocols to oversee the collection of automotive data, it has already made two appearances before Parliament to discuss privacy issues specifically related to connected cars and autonomous vehicles. In one of its hearings, the OPPC articulated the concept that a connected automobile is much more complex than a connected phone or computer.

“Most of these data flows in the connected car are very complex and not very transparent. Individuals are used to just getting in a car and driving and may have little awareness of how data captured by a connected car can be used in the background, let alone the implications of those uses, or the options available for limit, disable, or otherwise control them,” Pilieci told us in an email.

The slow death of franchise car dealerships

The connected car also opens the door to another booming phenomenon: centralized dealership networks. With so much data in circulation, automakers must arm themselves with data protection systems and strong encryption to prevent a breach from occurring. As the automotive industry pours resources into more advanced in-vehicle software and technology, it must, as the OPPC explains, also take responsibility for adequately protecting all information collected.

car dealerships

A good way to do this is to centralize the dealership network the same way Tesla has done since its inception, or how Polestar, Volvo’s new electric vehicle division, also works. According to our source, independent franchise dealerships are too risky in a world where sensitive data is drained from vehicles.

Tesla realized early on that by using a corporate sales model instead of franchises, it was able to better understand its vehicles and the data they collect. Every car is connected to a central source, as is every store that sells and services vehicles. The risks of data breaches are therefore greatly reduced when using this method.

“I can tell you that we have already started discussing with our franchisees the possibility of centralizing our operations, and they are not happy with this proposal. The sad reality is that we, along with every other automaker, need to go down this path if we want to sell more connected cars,” said the auto CEO we spoke to.

How to access your own data?

The European Union is currently working on new legislation that will require car manufacturers to offer consumers an easily accessible data download service. This means that much like the big tech companies (Google and Facebook) that allow you as a user to get a copy of the information they have collected on your behalf, automakers will also have to offer a similar service.

“If you were to ask your car manufacturer tomorrow to return all the data they collected from you, they wouldn’t even know how to do it. Most mainstream automakers aren’t ready for that. – added the CEO during our interview.

Tesla currently offers this service through its website, but limits the type of information returned. This dash cam, for example, is limited to Tesla, even though it’s your face being filmed in a car you own.

As a consumer, it is therefore important to fully grasp and understand the terms and conditions of your connected car and what it means to own one. More than ever, automakers will need to be more transparent about their data collection practices. As a Canadian citizen, you are protected under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. This allows you to have access to full transparency as to what type of data is collected and what it is used for. You also have the right to request a copy of this data at any time. Just make sure you are properly informed before signing

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