In the age of web-connected vehicles, the consumer’s relationship with the vehicle’s manufacturer takes on a whole new meaning. Not only does the relationship exist for the purpose of vehicle maintenance or future repairs, but the consumer also serves as a rolling information bank to the manufacturer. Indeed, nearly every new vehicle is by default programmed to share consumer data with manufacturers. Vehicle owners must consent to the data sharing, but they often unknowingly give their permission when signing lengthy or multiple documents at the time of purchase — a time when most consumers are just eager to take the keys and drive off the lot.
With the consumer’s consent, the data generated by the vehicle and its driver flow directly back to the manufacturer, which may collect the information, analyze it, and use the results for future business purposes. Surely, there are some benefits to manufacturers having access to such information. The data obtained might serve to help vehicles safer and more efficient, or eventually enable better marketing. This also, however, increases the risk of hacking and other criminal activity.
To date, 20 states have passed laws related to autonomous vehicles. However, the laws lack the depth needed to address issues such as privacy and security. Surely, much work is needed on the state and federal level to address these concerns.