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Your Car is Collecting Your Data: How to Stay Safe 

It seems like it’s hard to go a week without hearing about some new advancement in technology these days. Whether it’s a new gadget or updated software, trying to keep up with everything can make your head spin. Data collection is easy to forget about in all of the noise. You can’t see or hold your data, but it is very real, and many companies make a huge amount of money selling your personal data every day. 

Recently, car data collection has made its way into the data collection conversation, as many companies buy and sell data collected from vehicles. In this article, we’ll go over the main types of car data collection, what is done with the information once they have it, and what you can do to protect your data.

What Data Does My Car Collect?

There are many different ways that your data can be used to sell you things, track your location, and even steal your identity. Cars are a particularly convenient mechanism for data collection because we spend so much time in them, and most newer cars have “smart” technology that links up with your phone. As cars collecting data won’t be going away any time soon, it’s essential to understand what data your vehicle might be collecting from you,

 Below, you can find an overview of the main types of car data collection:

  • Location Tracking: If your car has an integrated GPS like most newer models do, that data is most likely being collected by the manufacturer. Location data can be used by companies to infer things about your life, habits, and preferences. Once they collect this data, they can use it as they see fit. Your location can also be shared with the local or federal government upon request. While this governmental location sharing is important for security purposes in some instances, it’s hard not to wonder how often this information is being looked at. 
  • Phone Habits: When you download a car manufacturer’s app, all that data is sent straight to them. Your car’s computer system can also collect data when you connect it to your phone. If you’re parked, your car is on, and you’re scrolling through your phone, there is a chance that the car’s computer is storing that data. Things like music preferences and listening trends can also be collected and sold to try and paint a picture of what you like and dislike. 
  • Passwords and Sensitive Information: Car computer security is not generally discussed a great deal, but there is a risk of someone hacking into your car’s computer and stealing your personal information. Data like banking app passwords, addresses, and work information can potentially be gathered by someone with the right skills. This threat of hackers is particularly scary as you could just be driving to work like you always do, and someone could be sifting through your phone. 
  • Audio and Video: Most modern cars are outfitted with multiple cameras and microphones inside and outside of them. The audio and video can be collected by car manufacturers and sold to different companies. It is a little unnerving to think about our cars watching and listening to us, but it is not out of the question with how valuable buying and selling data has become. 

4 Tips for Protecting Your Vehicle’s Data

While it is almost impossible to have your data completely secure, there are some steps you can take to try and protect yourself and your information from car data collection. Review our four main tips for protecting your data while in your car below:

  • Review Privacy Settings: It’s important to familiarize yourself with your car and the manufacturer’s settings and policies on privacy. If you feel uncomfortable with a certain setting, do your best to turn it off. When you can’t find a way to turn it off yourself, you can contact the manufacturer to see if it’s possible to opt-out. 
  • Keep Your Software Updated: If your vehicle has applications you can’t shut off or opt out of, make sure that the software is up to date with the most current version. While updating your software won’t stop the manufacturer from collecting data, it could stop hackers. Since software updates often contain bolstered security and fix previous vulnerabilities, they often make it harder for someone to tap into your car’s system without you knowing. 
  • Look Up Your Local Laws: Different states have different laws concerning what information can be collected and what can be done with it. Taking a look at your area’s privacy laws can help you understand what is happening to all of your information and any rights you have concerning that data. 

Have Questions About Your Vehicle’s Computer? Swing By Chapel Hill Tire 

If you live in Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, or the surrounding areas and have questions about your car’s computer, stop by Chapel Hill Tire. Our qualified professionals will be happy to go over your car’s settings and help you understand how your data may be being collected. Before you schedule an appointment, check out our promotions to find a great deal on our many services!

When you’re ready to bring your car in, please make an appointment at one of our convenient locations in the Triangle Area.

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