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How Car Manufacturers are Storing Data About You Without Your Consent

A Government Accountability Office Report found that major automakers have collected data from onboard navigation systems about the whereabouts of the drivers of their cars, but that drivers cannot obtain that information, or request that it be destroyed. The GAO report which investigated the practices at General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan, and the major GPS providers, Garmin and TomTom, found that each of those GPS systems retained location data. According to the report, if companies retained data, they did not allow consumers to request that their data be deleted, which is a recommended practice.”

According to Senator Al Franken, who commissioned the report, “Modern technology now allows drivers to get turn-by-turn directions in a matter of seconds, but our privacy laws haven’t kept pace with these enormous advances…”

“Companies providing in-car location services are taking their customers’ privacy seriously – but this report shows that Minnesotans and people across the country need much more information about how data are being collected, what they’re being used for, and how they’re being shared with third parties.” The GAO report noted “companies should safeguard location data, in part, by de-identifying them; that companies should not keep location data longer that needed; and that such data should be deleted after a specific amount of time.”

Significantly, none of the companies disclosed to the GAO how long they store the data.

According to Ford’s Global VP of Marketing and Sales, Jim Farley, as reported by Business Insider,  not only does Ford have the ability to track your car’s movements through the onboard GPS, but Ford knows when and where its cars’ drivers are breaking the law. Farley stated: “We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing. By the way, we don’t supply that data to anyone.” These statements have since been retracted as “hypothetical,” and later clarified by Farley to say that the data “could be” used to assist with traffic pattern management for events, and to deal with safety issues.

Whether Ford is doing it, or simply can do it, the GAO’s report evidences a massive reservoir of data about you is being stored without your consent, with massive implications. Is this data protected under the Stored Communications Act?

Do these automobile manufacturers voluntarily provide this data to law enforcement? Is a warrant necessary? Can a civil litigant discover whether a meeting took place by subpoenaing the GPS records coordinates of his adversary’s car on certain days? If a driver makes a Bluetooth call through the car’s entertainment system, are telephone records captured, too? If so, can those be subpoenaed? As seems to be the case, technology is outpacing the law, and apparently trampling upon your rights in the process.

“You may not know it, but your car has the automotive equivalent of an airplane’s “black box.”  It’s called an Event Data Recorder, or EDR, and anyone with a handheld scanner and access to the port under your steering wheel column can download a wealth of information about your vehicle.” – WIRED.



black boxIs you car spying on you?

“Modern automobiles are logging tremendous amounts of information every single second they’re being put to use,” and a senior executive at the Ford Motor Company says car manufacturers have access to every last piece of it.

At the CES electronic trade show in Las Vegas this week, the global vice president for Ford’s marketing and sales division opened up about just exactly how much data is being collected by his company’s latest line of smart cars.

“We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing,” Ford’s Jim Farley told a Vegas crowd.

So what can we do? How about this for starters …

We can become like Cuba and all dive fifty year old cars or we can …

Find the GPS gadget. It will usually be underneath the car or under the bumper (aka fender) but possibly inside. They are most often small rectangular boxes. If you cannot visually locate the tracking unit installed in your car, get help from a bug-detector device. This works by detecting the radio frequency transmission coming from the GPS device and alerting you to it. They are quite expensive but good value if they save you the cost of a divorce 🙂

Get the box open and and remove the battery thus depriving the processor of its power source. This will not work on all models, some take power from the car’s battery. For most manufacturers models it is the easiest way to disable the vehicle’s GPS system.

If you can’t disable it by removing the battery, unplug and remove GPS box. If you can see how the GPS device is fixed to the vehicle it is safe to remove it. Sometimes the GPS system is attached magnetically, in which case you can just pull the device off the vehicle. Simple.

Alternatively, if you want to be able to track your car but do not want Ford, Toyota or General Motors tracking your actions, you can buy a GPS tracker defence device. These are available online.

Plug the tracker defence into your car’s 12-volt lighter receptacle.

Turn on the device. It prevents the tracking unit installed in your car from sending signals to the GPS satellite.

Thus when you are not in the car you can take the GPS blocker with you and your car will be trackable if stolen, but while you are in the car, you can block GPS. Ain’t technology wonderful?

websites with model – specific instructions.