The data your car col­lects and who can use it

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - WEATHER - By Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin

Your car knows more about you than you think.

Newer cars that con­nect to the in­ter­net can col­lect vast amounts of data about driv­ers, such as where you went to din­ner, if you broke the speed limit or if your seat belt was buck­led.

When you buy a car, you cede data con­trol to your car com­pany. Most au­tomak­ers say they won’t sell in­for­ma­tion with­out an owner’s con­sent. But they’re not legally re­quired to in­form you if they do.

Car data is about to be­come big busi­ness. A new re­port from con­sult­ing firm McKin­sey says au­to­mo­tive data could be worth $450 bil­lion to $750 bil­lion glob­ally by 2030. Au­tomak­ers, in­sur­ers, high-tech firms, city plan­ners and ad­ver­tis­ers are among those who could use data to re­fine ser­vices. Driv­ers could share data in ex­change for nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems, or they could pay ex­tra for perks like a park­ing spot fin­der.

Here’s a primer on the emerg­ing is­sue of con­nected-car data:

: Which cars col­lect data?

: Just un­der 20 per­cent of new cars sold glob­ally now can be linked to the in­ter­net, ac­cord­ing to BI In­tel­li­gence. That fig­ure is ex­pected to reach 75 per­cent by 2020.

For ex­am­ple, Gen­eral Mo­tors Co. will have 12 mil­lion con­nected ve­hi­cles by the end of this year world­wide, which it says is the most for any au­tomaker.

: Do I own data that’s col­lected?

: That’s un­clear. Un­der fed­eral law, driv­ers own data stored in event data recorders, or “black boxes,” which mon­i­tor ve­hi­cles in a crash. Po­lice and in­sur­ers need a driver’s con­sent — or a court or­der — to get that data. But there are no laws ad­dress­ing data col­lected by au­tomak­ers through ve­hi­cle in­ter­net con­nec­tions.

: How do au­tomak­ers use the data?

: It de­pends on the ve­hi­cle and the man­u­fac­turer. Some turn data into no­ti­fi­ca­tions. Cars can au­to­mat­i­cally sig­nal for help if an air bag de­ploys, for ex­am­ple. Some will send a mes­sage if oil needs to be changed or a ve­hi­cle is be­ing re­called.

Tesla Mo­tors has used data to re­veal — some­times within hours of a crash — how fast the driver was go­ing and whether or not the com­pany’s semi-au­ton­o­mous Au­topi­lot sys­tem was en­gaged.

: Can au­tomak­ers sell data with­out my knowl­edge?

: They could, de­pend­ing on lan­guage in own­ers’ man­u­als. But un­der vol­un­tary prin­ci­ples estab­lished by the Al­liance of Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers in 2014, most agreed to get per­mis­sion be­fore shar­ing any­thing about a driver’s lo­ca­tion, health or be­hav­ior with third par­ties.

Twenty com­pa­nies — in­clud­ing GM, Toy­ota, Ford, Hyundai and MercedesBenz — signed that agree­ment, which is ef­fec­tive by the 2017 model year.

The pol­icy doesn’t re­quire con­sent for au­tomak­ers to share data with emer­gency work­ers or to share it in­ter­nally for re­search.

: Can I stop an au­tomaker from col­lect­ing my data?

: Most au­tomak­ers let own­ers opt out, but that’s usu­ally buried in fine print, says Khaliah Barnes, former as­so­ciate direc­tor of the non­profit Elec­tronic Pri­vacy In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter, who now works on pri­vacy is­sues for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Un­der the 2014 agree­ment, au­tomak­ers com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing clear no­tices about data, the rea­sons for col­lect­ing it and where it can be shared. But that’s not al­ways hap­pen­ing. For ex­am­ple, some GM own­ers’ man­u­als tell peo­ple about data stor­age, but they must track down separate poli­cies to learn more, Barnes says.

: Are there ben­e­fits to shar­ing data?

: Yes. Upon a driver’s re­quest, GM will send driv­ing data to in­sur­ance com­pa­nies like Pro­gres­sive and State Farm to see if the driver qual­i­fies for lower rates. OnS­tar will send coupons to your phone for busi­nesses along your route.

Tesla col­lects data in or­der to im­prove cars via soft­ware up­dates.

There is ev­i­dence peo­ple aren’t fret­ting about data shar­ing. McKin­sey found 79 per­cent of the 3,000 cus­tomers it in­ter­viewed in the U.S., China and Ger­many were will­ing to share. More than 70 per­cent were will­ing to pay for data-en­abled ser­vices that would save time, like a park­ing spot fin­der.

: What’s the down­side to shar­ing data?

: In­sur­ance com­pa­nies could re­quire driv­ers to let them mon­i­tor driv­ing be­fore they grant a pol­icy. They could see if you go fast around curves, ac­cel­er­ate too quickly or if you don’t wear a seat belt. That could raise rates. You could also get over­whelmed with un­wanted coupons.

: What’s the fu­ture of car data shar­ing? Mark Thomas, head of con­nected car mar­ket­ing for Cisco-Jasper, pre­dicts au­tomak­ers will even­tu­ally go from charg­ing monthly in­ter­net fees to mon­e­tiz­ing the ser­vice other ways, per­haps by sell­ing data. In­ter­net costs could be split, with part go­ing to an in­surer, mu­sic provider or other data user. With­out a monthly charge, more driv­ers would sign up, he says.

Cur­rently, data charges can be steep. New GM ve­hi­cles come with a free OnS­tar Guid­ance Plan trial. It au­to­mat­i­cally calls emer­gency ser­vices af­ter a crash, tracks and slows down a car if it’s stolen and pro­vides hands-free call­ing. But it costs $34.99 per month when the trial is over.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The dash­board of the Tesla Model X car is dis­played Sept. 29, 2015, at the com­pany’s head­quar­ters in Fre­mont, Calif. Newer cars that con­nect to the in­ter­net are ca­pa­ble of col­lect­ing vast amounts of data about their driv­ers. Tesla Mo­tors has used data to re­veal, some­times within hours of a crash, how fast the driver was go­ing and whether or not the com­pany’s semi-au­ton­o­mous Au­topi­lot sys­tem was en­gaged.

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