A mobile device that can perform several operations such as accessing and browsing the World Wide Web, make calls, record audio and video is called a smartphone. In contrast, cars that can be used to connect to the internet and have the capability to send and receive internet traffic isn’t commonly called ‘smart’. This has left a lot of people unaware that their privacy could be breached through their vehicles.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, car producing firms have changed the concept of a car to a machine that can be used and licensed, which is not so different from software. In order to fully understand the fact that your car is tracking you, you would need to carefully observe the words written in the numerous pages of car manufacturers’ terms and conditions.
Arguably, the most dangerous aspect of the recording of your personal and location data from your ‘smart cars’ is that the information gets transmitted to the car manufacturer. This is viewed as a breach of privacy and is made worse when the vehicle manufacturing company makes sales of your data to third-party companies or individuals, all in the bid to make more cash. The sale of data isn’t very different from what many telecommunication firms do where the most sensitive parts of data are sold. In some cases, this sale of personal and location data has led to various people being stalked.
Benefits of telematics technology in rental cars
The several benefits that the launch of surveillance technology could offer to firms in the car industry were first exploited by car rental companies. Car rental firms use surveillance tech to track clients and state the reason for this action was to tackle problems like car thefts, high insurance fees. For instance, some auto insurance companies use usage-based insurance policies. They charge users according to their mileage, speed, and other habits based on the information collected by a plug-in device. Careful drivers with low mileage welcome this policy as they are charged less.
Privacy risks you should be aware of
While surveillance tech definitely did help those issues, we can never neglect the privacy risks they also pose. In fact, a car rental firm, Hertz, pushed their agenda further and started the installation of video and audio recording devices in their rental cars. When this act was discovered, the firm in their defense mentioned that the video and audio recording devices were never switched on at any point in time. Some other car rentals broke the law by illegally fining their client for speeding and remitting the fines into the company’s pockets.
In some cases, car rental firms have a widened range of control over their vehicles, which is not limited to camera and microphone surveillance. Clients that have rented cars have encountered situations where they went off-road, and the central lock system of the vehicles activated remotely. In these cases, they had to contact the rental firms and make payment of fines to be able to regain access. Some car rental companies also have agreements that give access to the car producers to collect user data.
Since the early 2000s, cars have had GPS systems added to their framework to allow the location to be tracked in real-time. This GPS system addition has introduced several benefits for car owners. For instance, in the case of an accident or a medical emergency such as a cardiac arrest or heart attack, the location of the car could be collected and the patient located. However, most of the time, the data from the GPS systems are made use of by the government or malicious individuals to track your activities.
Vehicle producing company, Ford, has had its executives come out to proudly say that the firm can locate any of their cars that have breached road security rules like speeding. Other vehicle companies install cameras to detect if a driver is sleeping.
The fact remains that although several of these features do enhance road security and even reduce the amount of accidents on roads. However, this puts customers at a disadvantage because it would mean they could only trust manufacturing companies to never which practically translates to being at their mercy.
Think before you sign
Studies have revealed the concerns about data privacy despite the preference for smart devices among people. A research during a smart home holiday showed that the most demanded commodities during holiday shopping were smart devices and speakers. Customers were, however, concerned about their privacy, citing Facebook’s power to impact their purchase decisions.
More than 66% of Americans worry that using a smart or voice assistance device would expose them to possible breaches of privacy from hackers and malicious individuals. About 55% are concerned that the producers of smart devices could be spying on their conversations. When asked about what they could do if they found out their conversations were being listened to, more than 43% said they’d get rid of the device. 41% said they’d keep the device but turn off its microphone. 17% stated they would disconnect the device from the internet.
Today, when you want to rent a car, you simply check through the policies of various rental companies and decided which you feel most comfortable with. In the end, the rental company can still do whatever it wants in regards to surveillance. They own the cars and can make a choice concerning the addition or removal of video and audio recording devices from their vehicles.
If you want to ensure your car never spies on you, thereby not remitting your information to your car maker which can later be transmitted to the government, you can purchase a vehicle made at the beginning of the century. Not a lot of car models were able to be connected to the internet then as the World Wide Web was relatively in infancy. Alternatively, you can go with the option of completely putting your trust in the car producers not to misuse your data and hope they increase transparency about their activities.
A lot of people don’t have the idea that their vehicles could be used to monitor their activities. Car manufacturers and rental companies siphon sensitive data of individuals and sell them to companies and individuals that have the money to purchase them. Some companies even go as far as recording their customers privately to gather information about them. To this issue, the best possible solution is to rent or buy a car that doesn’t have a GPS system, cannot be connected to the internet, and have no surveillance tools installed.