Do our cars spy on us?

How car manufacturers store data about you without your consent

A report by the U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO) has revealed manufacturers that offer cars with built in location-based software, such as satellite navigation, have been collecting data about drivers’ whereabouts and sharing that information with third party companies, without disclosing the purpose for doing so.

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…”

GAO carried out a report, amid fears that the growing number of location based services offered in cars ‘can be used to track where consumers are, which can in turn be used to steal their identity, stalk them, or monitor them without their knowledge.’ However, they claim that this information is okay to be stored, as long as companies involved protect the location data. The report states, companies should not keep location data longer than needed, and that such data should be deleted after a specific amount of time.

Notably, when asked by the GAO, all of the companies refused to disclose how long they store the data collected.

Business Insider claims, according to Ford’s Global VP of Marketing and Sales, Jim Farley, not only do Ford have the ability to track your car’s movements through the onboard GPS, they also know when and where users driving their cars 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 These statements have since been retracted as “hypothetical,” and later clarified by Farley to say that the data “could be” used to assist with traffic pattern management for events, and to deal with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 spying on us, or simply have the ability to do so, the GAO’s report proves a massive reservoir of data about drivers is being stored without their consent, with possible implications. Is this data protected under the Stored Communications Act?

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.”

What can you do to prevent this unauthorised spying ?

If you are interested in purchasing a car with an integrated GPS system, but don’t want to be spied on, then there are a few solutions.

First of all, you can try and find the GPS gadget. This is usually located underneath the car or under the bumper. Normally they are small rectangular boxes. Open this box and remove the battery. This method ensures the GPS processor will have no power at all.

However, these methods don’t work with all vehicles. Some vehicles take power from the car’s battery. If you want to be able to track your car but don’t want manufacturers tracking your actions, you can buy a GPS tracker defence device.

Finally, the most radical solution is simply to unplug and remove your GPS box.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Are Driverless Cars soon to be reality?

Were science fiction movies, simply predictions of what is to come in the near future? We believe so, as everything seems to indicate that we could have driverless cars on the market very soon.

Car 3

This important technological advance could be possible thanks to the combination of 3 industry giants: Google, Toyota and Texas Instrument. According to Google we should see cars without drivers within 3 to 5 years.     Since 2010, the Toyota Prius, Lexus RX450h and Audi TT have already covered more than 500,000 kilometres across California and Nevada. For the moment no accidents have occurred, thanks to the use of this innovative steering system.

car 5

However the launch of this ground-breaking system will not be easy. As of May 2012, its estimated cost was $150,000, making it more expensive than the car’s retail price.

The steering system also faces authorisation issues. At the moment it is only legal in California and Nevada, USA. This is based on the fact that, the unique nature of this type of vehicle, may force some of the points in the Highway Code to be altered.

For example, even if these vehicles were capable of limiting traffic jams and accidents thanks to their sensors, there are still questions about who’s responsible in the case of an accident. Another important point to consider is the requirement of a driver’s licence to operate this type of car. This will help determine directly if the handicapped will be able to use this innovation. Currently we are unaware if the company will propose its technology to the car manufacturers or if Google will be a new automotive actor and create its own vehicle.

Check out Google’s latest proposition for the automotive industry:                                                 Video demonstration of the driverless car from Google

Posted in Uncategorized

2013 Review: The Green Automotive Market

In this time of celebration and New Year resolutions, it’s good to review the last year. This post will therefore focus on one of the highlights of 2013, the Green Automotive market.

Car 2Ford Fusion Hybrid :
2013 brought with it, the new Ford Fusion Hybrid. This car combined a horsepower of 188 and a fuel economy of 4.0 litres/100km in the city and 4.1 on the highway. These characteristics are exceptional for a weight of 1,640 kilograms and for a car which can do 100km/h under electric-only power.

 

Car 2

Tesla and the Model S : Tesla is only an intriguing start-up but it was one of the sensations of 2013. They introduced the battery-powered Tesla Model S, a wondrous engineering achievement that has set the bar for all other EVs.

 

Electrified cars : This topic has been under discussion for years. But what we’ve seen so far is too expensive and too limited. The electrified cars have not reached the numbers expected. “Low and falling gas prices do not help the electric vehicle market,” said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst at Edmunds.com. In the United States, which is the reference market, the projected 2013 US sales of top-selling plug-in electric vehicles were:                                                                                                         

1 : Nissan Leaf with 22 000                                                                                                             2 : Chevrolet volt with more than 21 000                                                                                           3 : Tesla Model S : 21 500 *

According to the EVI (Electric Vehicles Initiative) the sales of electrified cars represented 0.02 % of the global sales of cars this year. Despite these low sales statistics it is important to be precise and specify that the sale of electrified cars had doubled between 2011 and 2012.*Tesla’s figures include international sales, though most of its cars are sold in the US.

In the long term, we expect the adoption of the electric car to incCar 1rease. Growth of sales will be achieved thanks to an important deployment of the supply system in public places. The technological evolutions such as those that took place last year should also allow a significant increase in sales in the medium/long term.

The Car-Rak service looks forward to aiding the shipping of these cars in the future.

Posted in Uncategorized