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  • Is Your Car from Spying on You? Security Risks of Modern Vehicles

    Is Your Car Spying on You? Security Risks of Modern Vehicles?

If you are an older American like me, you are very concerned about the erosion of privacy rights under the pretext of safety. Sure, behind the steering wheel, newer cars are safer in a car accident. But this may come with a catch, as with many Quality of Life (QoL) features for drivers and passengers of internet-connected vehicles. You could now choose from different driving modes or check an online map with a few taps on a screen using your car apps. Unfortunately, these features also came with car “spying” concerns among many affected drivers.

While manufacturers of modern high-tech cars claim the connection enhances the user experience, they may also collect your data and share it with third parties that your onboard computers generate. (acceleration monitoring, etc.) If you have a smart car, it can likely connect to the internet, and we already know our DOJ, NSA, FBI, CIA, etc., have all been busted using private company data to illegally spy on American citizens.

See Video About Illegal FBI Spying on American Communications

Getting your data collected in any way could be a massive violation of your rights. Sadly, car makers leave these cars largely unprotected regarding data secrecy. Car sensors sending signals are nothing new, but what happens when your own car’s maker is basically an instrumentality of the government? Learn about car spying and how a car collects information. We will also discuss what you can do about it and how our detailed services can help.

Are Modern Cars Truly Storing and Sharing Your Data?

Let’s break down how modern cars work. These vehicles are now equipped with different connectivity features and advanced technology, including an interior microphone.

They include:

  • GPS navigation
  • Infotainment systems
  • Bluetooth
  • Internet access.

All of these features create opportunities for car data collection. On the other hand, some cars come with hidden sensors. Warning: these cameras and sensors collect information about your vehicle and surrounding environment, which car manufacturers can use for many purposes.

The Mozilla Foundation has a report about where your data could be going. Unfortunately, it could go to any company or entity, including:

  • Service providers
  • Government and law enforcement agents
  • Advertising companies
  • Car dealers
  • Social media
  • Data brokers
  • Affiliates.

Here’s a rundown of what data-snitching vehicles could be looking for:

Driving Habits

Cars can monitor your driving habits remotely and adapt to them. Even though this is great for making your vehicle fit your needs, the car company could also use the data to assess your driving skills or risk factors.

For example, speeding and hard braking can cause drivers to face “mysteriously rising” insurance premiums. A report from Kashmir Hill for the New York Times claims that many companies are collecting information about your movements, and they likely sell the insurance industry.

Location Data

GPS systems can store information regarding where you go for roadside assistance, how fast you’re driving, and more. As with the previous factor, this may lead to soaring auto insurance premiums. If you don’t preserve privacy, you are in for a potentially snoopy ride with minimal pushback from Congress.

Voice Commands

Many modern cars come with voice recognition systems. They’re meant to listen to predetermined commands, allowing a seamless driving experience.

However, some cars are set up to record everything you say while inside the vehicle, whether you’re saying a command or not.


Bad cops have nothing on technology. Thinking about all the information your car could get from you and smartphones is scary. Nissan’s data policy, for example, states that it has the right to track your “genetic information, health diagnosis data, and even sexual activity.”

Cars can also remember your driving preferences, including preferred temperature, seat adjustments, and more. All that information and personal data can be used to create a profile with intrusive consequences.

Infotainment Usage

Some vehicles can gather information about any calls you make from there, the music you listen to, and the apps you install in the system. Your car speakers can be used as microphones, and they are listening to your comments and “anti-government” rants.

Why Would Manufacturers Do That?

There are two reasons why car companies might purportedly collect your information:

  • Improvements: The car could use your information to offer better features in a future update or enhance your current experience.
  • Safety: Gathering information about drivers can ensure they get better safety treatment in an emergency.

What About Marketing and Insurance?

Using your information to improve your experience sounds excellent, but not so much when considering other potentially hidden reasons.

If you notice that your car insurance premium jumped suddenly and without explanation, for example, it might be due to your car manufacturer sharing information with insurance providers.

Returning to the New York Times report, Kashmir Hill talked to Kenn Dahl, who analyzed his LexisNexis consumer disclosure report. This happened because his premium jumped by 21%.

LexisNexis sent documents that contained information about 640 trips made by Dahl. The reports came from General Motors, specifically the “OnStar Smart Driver” service. If you ever get in trouble, your vehicle may use data-hungry computers from an infotainment system that could present a Fourth Amendment nightmare.

Unfortunately, the data mentioned in these reports was used as grounds to put Kenn Dahl in a higher insurance risk category.

Car brands that use your information for marketing are an even bigger problem. As with your phone, manufacturers can use your data to send personalized ads.

Some drivers are informed how intrusive their cars can be when signing paperwork at the dealership. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Many people enroll in different data collection programs without their explicit consent.

Newer Cars Could Be Actively Violating Your Fourth Amendment Rights

Although the Supreme Court says police have to get a warrant to search mobile phones, no case says that applies to car systems. The Constitution’s Fourth Amendment explains that law enforcement agents protect you from unreasonable searches and seizures. It ensures your right to feel safe in your private property.

A report by the Mozilla Foundation mentions how law enforcement could ask for the information stored in your car or hack it. Some brands include privacy policies saying they can voluntarily share your information with the government if it requests it.

Considering the Fourth Amendment protects you from unwarranted searches, this could be a huge problem to address. Police officers, for example, would need a warrant to search your phone, but they may not need it to examine the data in your car’s systems.

What Can You Do to Prevent Modern Cars from Sharing Your Information?

Not all car brands handle information or store data the same way, so checking whether we’re getting spied on is in our hands.

When checking car companies, relevant pages about their vehicle models can help you determine how their data privacy policy works.

A guide by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) mentions a few things you can do to ensure you’re safe:

  • Check how your vehicle collects data. Enter your 17-digit VIN in the “Privacy4Cars’ Vehicle Privacy Report” website, and it’ll tell you which data your vehicle might collect. Mozilla’s “Privacy Not Included” website also has information about how certain car manufacturers handle your data.
  • Check your car’s settings and apps to see if they say anything about data sharing. Usually, you’ll find this information under the “Data Usage” or “Data Privacy” menus. You might be able to deactivate a few of those tracking features.
  • Contact customer service and ask for a “Privacy Request.” Your manufacturer will tell you how much data it has collected about you and which type of information it has. Remember that not all car makers will accept your request if you don’t live in a state with a strict consumer data privacy law.
  • Find reputable data brokers and ask which data they’re sharing with insurers. Companies like LexisNexis and Verisk are known for sending car information to insurance companies. Depending on the state, you could request to learn more about your case, which may be fulfilled within 45 or 90 days.
  • Disable “ad tracking” on your smartphone. It may prevent your car from collecting evidence directly from your phone through your car’s software.

Additionally, you could check if you can opt out of data sharing. J.D. Tuccille mentioned in an article that he did this with his Toyota 4Runner. The company sent him an “acknowledgment” that stated it waived his “Connected Services.”

This meant that his vehicle wasn’t transmitting the driving, location, and health data back to Toyota. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee his vehicle wasn’t tracking anything anymore, so Tuccille removed the Data Communication Module (DCM) that connected the car to the cellphone network or related phone apps tied to your car’s computers and even cameras. EFF’s Klosowski goes so far to suggest disabling ad tracking.

Are you worried about vehicle health data info being used as a backdoor for government agencies to spy on you in a public-private partnership with car companies? The future is exciting for the transportation industry but also scary. There’s a growing concern surrounding people’s privacy, and you should do your best to ensure no one is taking advantage of your trust.

You may be entitled to legal compensation if you find out your car manufacturer is collecting more than your mobile phone data without consent. At Ehline Law, we help people understand your data-sharing rights. We will cover data policies, moving into a more Dystopian future. We also teach preventing other companies from getting your information without permission. We hope the information in this guide has helped you, and if you ever need legal assistance, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE on your secure phones if you have any. If you have no other means, just be careful what you say!

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Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.