You may have given your permission, or you may be the last to know.
At present, consumers' privacy is regulated when it comes to banking transactions, medical records, phone and Internet use. But data generated by cars, which these days are basically rolling computers, are not.
All too often, "people don't know it's happening," says Dorothy Glancy, a law professor at Santa Clara University in California who specializes in transportation and privacy. "People should be able to decide whether they want it collected or not."
Try as you may to protect your privacy while driving, it's only going to get harder. The government is about to mandate installation of black-box accident recorders, a dumbed-down version of those found on airliners -- that remember all the critical details leading up to a crash, from your car's speed to whether you were wearing a seat belt. The devices are already built into 96% of new cars.
Plus, automakers are on their way to developing "connected cars" that constantly crank out information about themselves to make driving easier and collisions preventable.
Privacy becomes an issue when data end up in the hands of outsiders whom motorists don't suspect have access to it, or when the data are repurposed for reasons beyond those for which they were originally intended.
Though the information is being collected with the best of intentions -- to make cars safer or to provide drivers with more services and conveniences -- there is always the danger...
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