Earlier this month, I pointed out that "If you allow "smart" devices to listen to you non-stop, you're crazy". That article examined the security risks of allowing smart devices into your home, because you had no idea what they were listening to and/or recording.
Now comes news that your car is almost certainly spying on you just as hard, if not harder. Please watch the short video below; or, if you prefer, read the report about the investigation. Both are mind-blowing in their implications for our security.
It turns out that almost every modern vehicle is recording just about everything it can find about you, including your contacts from your smartphone, your driving style and habits, where you go, how long you're there . . . the whole schmear. We have no idea how much of this is being uploaded to the vehicle's manufacturer, or what they're doing with it once it hits their servers. Their conditions of service simply give them the right to collect it - and we're told nothing more. We can't even opt out of it unless we deliberately refuse to subscribe to many of the services we've come to take for granted in modern vehicles; and even that may not be enough to ensure our privacy.
The author of the article concludes:
To limit what private data your car collects about you, Fowler recommends not connecting your phone directly to your car via the built-in USB port and to use 12-volt chargers instead. He also suggests using an app called Privacy4Cars to make sure you delete your data from cars you use but don't own, including rentals or when you borrow one from a friend.
These tricks might not be enough when the upcoming 5G networks arrive and allow vehicles to transmit more data in less time. Coming soon to a dashboard near you.
There's more at the link.
Sadly, even the app mentioned above, Privacy4Cars, requires you to connect your smartphone to your car to use it! That seems self-defeating to me. The app's Web site provides links to several videos on their YouTube channel about what it does, and how car manufacturers collect your data. They make interesting viewing.
Most frustrating from my point of view is that one can no longer buy a new car without such monitoring hardware and software installed. The manufacturers no longer sell them. Even if I specifically tell them that I don't want their real-time services such as OnStar, how do I know they aren't recording data anyway? And how do I know that might not come back to bite me if it gets downloaded somehow without my permission, or even my knowledge? I can see that data being used by divorce lawyers, private investigators, or even police, and I'd have no way to know about it or prevent it until it was too late.
That's why I won't connect my cellphone through the car's systems at all. I'll use it stand-alone, not even with a Bluetooth connection, much less a USB cable. It's the only way I know to stop my data from being stolen. With the advent of 5G cellular service, even that may not be enough.
I wonder if one can burn out the vehicle computer(s) that do that job, while leaving the rest of the driving electronics intact? I suspect not . . .