The auto industry is to be commended for its creation and adaptation of comprehensive privacy protection guidelines, named Privacy Principles, for the benefit of consumers whether they drive vehicles or not. Spearheaded by a collaboration between the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers, these guidelines are presented as principles that govern the fundamentals of how automakers handle various data that is generated inside the vehicle, generated outside the vehicle, generated as required by law and generated for the purposes of sharing.
Since telematics systems became widely used across the auto industry, data collection and the disclosure of its handling has varied widely from company to company. This has led to distrust on the part of consumers and various advocacy groups, suspecting that data has been likely used in unwanted ways either by automakers or third-party marketers, and possibly others. Data retention has also been a concern, particularly among those who have leased or rented vehicles with telematics systems that download data from devices brought into the vehicle.
Through committing to the Principles, participating automakers will adopt privacy policies that are transparent to drivers with respect to what data is collected and allow drivers to authorize that data collection on an opt-in basis. Some personalized data, such as biometrics, location and driving behavior will also require driver consent and will be anonymized when possible to protect identity-based information. And data that is authorized by the driver or required by law will be retained “no longer than determined necessary for legitimate business purposes.” We can argue all day long over what is a “legitimate” business purpose. However, by adopting these Principles automakers are clearly putting potential bad behavior on notice.
These standardized consumer data privacy practices are a significant move that can help to gain consumer trust and avoid government privacy regulations that could suppress innovation. In a statement that pledges to protect and respect consumer privacy, Mitch Bainwol, president and CEO of the Alliance of Automotive Manufacturers, commented, “These landmark privacy frameworks, when applied to automobiles, should reassure auto customers that their privacy is taken seriously.”
Data ownership has also been a concern in the telematics age. The Privacy Principles stipulate that data collected from an electronic data recorder (EDR) is owned by the consumer. Identifying information, such as the consumer’s name, address, credit card numbers, telephone numbers and email addresses are also the property of the consumer. Not all information will be owned or accessed by consumers based upon practical usage; vehicle diagnostics, emission control performance and service data are not associated directly with the consumer and thus remain largely the domain of the automaker. The Principles also stipulate some data is necessarily transmitted, processed, stored and/or shared outside of the consumer’s control for the public good, such as with traffic control, safety and advanced mobility.
Once committed, each participating automaker will incorporate these new Privacy Principles for new vehicles no later than model year 2017.
The 19-page document is a testament to auto industry proactivity and self-regulation. The Principles build upon the FTC Fair Information Practice Principles, FTC guidance on privacy and the White House Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights. Getting this type of initiative correct from the beginning was obviously core to the mission; by often invoking public policy issues and priorities, the Principles speak to government, automotive and technology industry interests.
The document is scalable and subject to change as technology evolves, thus we believe the authors were practical as well as thoughtful. Taken together, the Principles represent a unified automotive industry commitment to the responsible collection and usage of Big Data. Bravo!
Source: Automakers pledge to protect driver privacy – Detroit News