You car is spying on you
The Washington Post took apart a Chevy to see what GM is learning about you, when you drive. As they say, it could have been a Ford, Toyota, or BMW, just as easily; and the results were more than a little frightening.
Most new cars come with built-in cellular data connections, including all GM, Ford, and BMW cars, and nearly all Toyotas and Volkswagens. As the article points out, there are no federal laws staying what the automakers can do with the data, and they generally don’t put any limits on themselves.
Geoffrey A. Fowler, a technology columnist, consulted engineer Jim Mason to dismantle a Chevy Volt and look at just one of its computers, the telematics system; they also bought a used one from eBay. With the used computer, they could track the owner’s movements, and see their most frequently called people (and when they called them), complete with photos. They found out where that person bought gas and ate, and found their phone identifiers. Mason mentioned that Ford cars record the location every few minutes even when the navigation system is supposedly off.
Mason and Fowler don’t know how much of this is reported to GM, because they didn’t hack into the encrypted connection, though this has been done by others in the past. GM refused to tell the pair what data it collected, even when given formal notice under California law. A GM spokesman said most of the data they collected was related to location, performance, and driver behavior; a GM app uses braking, turning, and acceleration speeds to provide a safe-driving score.
Clark Westfield grew up fixing up and driving past-their-prime American cars, including various GM and Mopar V8s. He has ghostwritten auto news for the last few years, and lives in Farmingdale, New York.