Connected Cars: A Guide To Protecting Your Privacy

By Anthony K

Manufacturers equip cars with newer technological options for functionality, emergency, and user convenience. Unfortunately, your car may jeopardize your security as it collects and transmits data to authorized parties or unauthorized ones to access it.

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Most modern cars feature some form of connectivity through wi-fi technology, Bluetooth systems, or infotainment systems connecting to a cellular network. The connectivity features are embedded in your car and may comprise some core functionality.

A student researched a series of late-model vehicles at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. The researcher uncovered that system and vehicle-generated events could generate GPS coordinates that can give precise locations when shifting gears and closing or opening doors.

A Washington Post’s case study of the 2018 Chevrolet Volt revealed that the car gives your current location even when not actively using the GPS. The researchers used a second-hand Volt navigation system from eBay to reconstruct the previous owner’s workplace, home, and frequented spots like gas stations automatically logged by the infotainment system.

You can also use the collected data to your advantage. Telematics helps you spot and avoid traffic after analyzing previous patterns, while urban planners use the data to identify traffic-prone roads to create more effective streets. An insurance company can also use the data to identify dangerous driving habits, while manufacturers use it to identify potential malfunctions needing repair.

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Improving driver safety has been an issue of contention, calling for legal battles and constitutional amendments. Reconsidering the Fourth Amendment’s loophole could limit access to vehicle telematics without a warrant. Use the car cautiously to safeguard your privacy and safety, or use older versions without notable technological features.