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Will California consumers have any say in car connectivity? How much is too much?

Written by maryp posted on Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

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linked-connectedAbout 18 months ago, NHTSA had just finished a tour of sorts around the U.S. to determine how much connectivity that consumers would accept in their vehicles.  California was amongst those stops and my question is: What did the data tell us about the desires of the vehicle owners?  Did they just want their music, their phones to be integrated?  How would they enjoy the automatic appointment notification (at their local dealership) when it was time for service?  Did they want Facebook, Twitter and full-on social integrations available on the dash?  What about the crash avoidance systems and even “self driving cars”?  Wow – that is taking the term “Connected Car” to another level!  The number of Connected Cars is growing every day and is expected to be at 100% by 2025 (not too distant future).

Most consumers do not realize there is a ton of information being collected and transmitted directly to the manufacturer via their late model vehicle every time they start their engine.  Currently, car manufacturers have YOUR information, which includes precise location, mileage tracking and frequently visited locations. Driving habits are being collected — do you drive too fast, or brake too fast?  EDR’s, the black box that is triggered when air bags deploy, is recording speed, status of airbags, braking and/or acceleration, whether or not seat belts were fastened.  The manufacturers are also mining data from the car to determine when a repair may be needed and will then steer business to their dealerships.  The manufacturers know a lot about you (not just your car).

As a consumer, you are currently restricted from relaying this information to third parties that may benefit you as the owner of the vehicle (such as an independent shop or even for a technology upgrade or option). The bottom line — The choice of the consumer will be extremely limited if this info is not available. The cars now will “read” any malfunction from a sensor, and a pre-scheduled appointment will appear on their screen (to the dealership). It will take away the consumers choice for most repairs, with the exception of possibly tires (but that will be it). It is called Telematics and our industry has been fearing this for years. It is now here!

What are the manufacturers doing with your information, and how valuable is it?  You can get a discount with some auto insurers if you use their specific tracking device.  You may decide that a discount on your auto insurance is worth it to you.  And, if you decide that you want to use that device, you are accepting that all your information be used.  This is your CHOICE, because it is your CAR and YOUR data.

But, the car makers — are they informing the consumer when they buy or lease the car?  Are customers being told that their private information is no longer “theirs” to do what ever they want? What is being done with your information that you thought was personal and private?  Where is it being shopped?

AAA is supporting SB 994 (Monning), the “Consumer Vehicle Information Choice and Control Act”, which will establish consumers’ rights to choose who has access to their car information.  In September 2013, AAA surveyed 350 AAA members and 650 non-members about issues relating to car data. When respondents were informed about the kinds of data that car-connectivity technologies can generate, they expressed deep concern: 79 percent of survey respondents agreed that consumers always should be able to decide if information generated about their car can be shared and with whom; 85 percent agreed that there should be laws to protect consumers’ right to car information.

SB 994 (Monning)— Consumer Car Information and Consumer Choice Act. Currently consumers have little or no access to their car computer information.

  • Car computers can generate and collect sensitive personal information about consumers, including driving habits, vehicle condition, repair, maintenance and diagnostic data;
  • It’s important that consumers know what information is stored in their car and have access;
  • SB 994 requires car manufacturers to disclose to consumers the type of data generated/collected by their car and provides that the information collected/stored in the vehicle belongs to the consumer;
  • SB 994 prohibits the car manufacturer from restricting access and gives the consumer the right to share the data with an auto mechanic or third party of his or her choice.

We expect that this issue will heat up soon –  after all, we will have the manufacturers vs. the insurers.  Let’s hope the consumer wins this one!
Get the facts, and then let your representative know where you stand on this very important bill.  After all, it is about YOUR CAR, YOUR DATA and YOUR CHOICE!

If you have any ideas about this, send us an email.  It would be great to hear from you.

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