How your car is spying on you – and can make 'sensitive information' available to others

Your car is spying on you, and owners should be informed how much of their personal data is being collected, a legal expert warned.

Sean McElligott, partner and head of the technology group at Dublin law firm Philip Lee, said that modern cars were full of features that generate enormous data.

They include GPS of where a vehicle has travelled – which was used to track the movements of Mark Hennessy, who abducted and murdered Jastine Valdez in May of this year. Mr McElligott said that gardaí being able to access information in such a way was difficult to argue against.

Phone book contacts, details of calls and messages, what radio stations you listen to, information about your daily routine and where you work are all details that are capable of being stored in modern vehicles.

Currently there is no specific legal framework at an Irish or European level regulating the protection of data collected from vehicles.

Car owners, the law expert says, should be informed of all the various personal data that is being collected.

“Modern cars are jam-packed full of features to make our lives easier and safer, such as lane control, adaptive cruise control, navigation and infotainment systems. All of this convenience has been shown to result in the generation of enormous amounts of data,” Mr McElligott said.

“Depending on the nature of the technology used in your modern car, this sensitive information could be accessible or made available to a number of interested parties including the car manufacturer, mobile network operators, in-car system providers and the cloud service providers who store the data.”

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