There is a growing hype about connectivity spreading into the automobile industry, and concerns are also on the rise. Information collected from cars connected to their manufacturers can reach the significant value of $750 billion by 2030, as reports indicate, and this has caused quite a stir with different companies racing to further their advances in this field. Now the question is what are cars learning about us and our daily habits? What you will now learn is far more than you ever imagined.
Did you know that nearly 20% of all cars roaming around you have already been connected to the Internet, and have been busy capturing and interpreting huge amounts of data? And the remarkable factor is that these numbers are quickly on the rise. It is forecasted that three out of every four car will be linked by just 2020, meaning it is right around the corner. Take General Motors as an example. Officials there are claiming their company alone will have 12 million linked cars on the road by 2017.
So, what is the data currently recorded? First and foremost, and most simply to be quite precise, are the destinations you have driven to and the timing you reached there. It doesn’t stop here. Even the routes you decided to take to get there are important for those collecting such data. Then comes the speeds you drove your car, which is of high interest to insurance companies always trying to provide the least coverage possible. Fuel companies and the police are also obviously very interested in such data about your driving speed.
Does it stop here? No. The music or radio station you listen to is of course another important source of personal data. What was your cabin temperature? Did you have any passengers with you? Did you fasten your seatbelt? What were the apps you used on your way to your destination? How long were you on any of those apps? Was there anything you searched for? If so, what were the subjects you were searching for? There is a long list of parties highly interested in such information that can lead to serious profits.
Taking into consideration what brand and/or model of a car you were driving, up to 100,000 data points are being tracked on a constant basis. You may find it strange but some vehicles are even monitoring the driver’s weight, and/or that of the passengers. Why is that useful? Rest assured that diet food companies would like to know if you are interested in their products.
Controlling screens in your car is a major privilege as their lies huge value in the data flowing into your vehicle. As a result, many companies are searching for methods to get access to you in your car.
In the middle of all this the driver, too, is benefiting to some extent, including being provided cheaper car insurance or receiving personalized offers. General Motors, for example, will send out driving data to insurance companies including Progressive or State Farm to analyze each driver’s qualification to receive lower premiums or not. The OnStar system in the cars are also able to send out coupons to smartphones targeting different businesses and services (including food, fuel and etc.) that are in your path.
Interesting is the fact that a high majority of people don’t have such an issue with their data being shared amongst various companies. Studies also show nearly 4 out of every 5 driver amongst a list of 3,000 who were interviewed in China, Germany and the U.S. were actually quite happy to have their data shared for some kind of benefit. Above 70% are even willing to pay, yes pay, to receive certain data-enabled services, such as a system to find a place to park. However, considering the fact that advertisers, insurers, music providers and etc. are amongst those types of interested parties that can actually take advantage of your data to their own benefit (while trying to convince you it is also to your benefit), such a possibility is weighed as unlikely. They would in fact be very much prepared to take in all usage charges possible.
All this said, there are growing concerns amongst users about privacy matters, especially since after buying a car that is connected to the Internet you are effectively ceding control over the information of your car to the manufacturing company. For now most auto companies are providing the chance for their customers to opt out of this issue. However, the process is not entirely all that easy, as various experts believe fine print has buried the entire issue. Major auto companies gathered in 2014 and reached an agreement committing them to sending accurate data to consumers about information, the reasons why they have actually collected it and with what third parties can this data be shared?
Finally, we reach the question about what we believe in. Is a connected car and the transmission of your information used to enhance the experience of each and every driver worth the delivery of all control over what is in the end considered your personal data? Or are you in the league of those who believe drivers should enjoy the ability to limit the amount and type of data sent out about them, or decide to completely deny any access at all? This is a serious issue that we will most definitely hear more about in the near and distant future ahead.