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Government Report Says Automakers Keep Data on Drivers' Locations

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 1/12/2014 Edward A. Sanchez

Since Edward Snowden's revelation of the sweeping surveillance operations being done by the National Security Agency, privacy has taken center stage in the public dialogue and interest, and a report from the Government Accountability Office is sure to add fuel to the fire. The Detroit News reports that the GAO report reviewed practices by General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda and Nissan in regard to retention and use of data related to customers' behaviors and locations.

Internal policies by the automakers varied wildly, with some retaining it for up to seven years, to another saying it only keeps identifiable location data for "no more than 24 hours." Some of the data collection is necessary in order to provide users with location-based services, however, the time and use of the data retention has raised red flags with some privacy advocates. The report recommends safeguarding location data by "de-identifying" it, essentially anonymizing it from the end user, only retaining data for aggregate analytical purposes, as well as giving the end-user better options for disclosure of data use, and options for their data to be deleted.

2014-toyota-corolla-le-eco-navigation-03© Provided by MotorTrend 2014-toyota-corolla-le-eco-navigation-03

Adding fuel to the fire was Ford marketing chief Jim Farley's quote in a story in which he said, "We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you're doing it." Farley later apologized and modified his statement, saying "We don't monitor, aggregate data on how people drive. I've given people the wrong impression, I regret that."

Source: The Detroit News 1, 2


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