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Officials: Auto Technology Raises Privacy Issues

Nine out of 10 carmaker and technology-development companies shared the data they collect from vehicles with third-party companies.


Your GPS could be leading marketing companies straight to you, officials are warning.

Technology built into the newest generation of cars to track driver location and communicate with other vehicles could violate privacy if unregulated, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday.

Schumer, at a Manhattan news conference, said "smart-car technology" -- including black box innovations to monitor speed and location, as well as vehicle-to-vehicle communication tools -- are intended to anticipate and prevent accidents. But it could subsequently compromise personal data, Schumer said.

He cited an independent U.S. Government Accountability Office report in December that found nine out of 10 carmaker and technology-development companies studied share the data they collect from vehicles with third-party companies.

"Think about it. If your car has a GPS, it's tracking your every move. It knows your favorite places to visit. It knows where you like to eat, where you shop, where you go on vacation . . . and a lot of other things," Schumer said outside a car dealership in Hell's Kitchen. "That creates a trove of information about you that can easily be sold to marketers and companies looking to target someone like you."

He called on the Federal Trade Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to establish guidelines to help car and data-collection companies issue disclosures and give consumers an opportunity to opt out. He also wants data to be collected in a manner that doesn't reveal individuals' identities.

The FTC said ensuring privacy of Internet-connected devices is among its top priorities.

"With more and more American consumers buying Internet-connected devices, such as cars that can transmit information about their location and driving habits, it is essential that companies address emerging privacy issues," agency chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a statement. "I thank Senator Schumer for calling attention to this important issue."

The FTC in November held a public workshop on consumer privacy and security issues posed by increasing connectivity, including in cars. A report is to be issued later this year.

The NHTSA did not respond to requests for comment.

©2014 Newsday

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