In today’s digital age, the very car you drive could be gathering personal data without your clear knowledge. The latest research from Mozilla’s *Privacy Not Included project has cast a spotlight on this concerning issue. According to the findings, cars, particularly newer internet-connected models from all major manufacturers, are not up to par with basic privacy and security expectations.

These vehicles collect a wide array of information, some of which is intensely personal, such as racial and health data, and even details as intimate as sexual activity. For instance, Volkswagen’s vehicles have the capability to monitor seatbelt usage and braking intensity. Mozilla’s investigation reveals that no car brand among the 25 studied meets their privacy standards.

The common misconception is that our cars are private havens. This belief is now challenged by the reality that cars are becoming sophisticated data collection hubs. This is facilitated through the use of in-car microphones, cameras, and even the smartphones that drivers pair with their vehicles, which then feed data back to the manufacturers. This information can be used for various purposes, including targeted advertising or even shared with third parties.

Nissan, in particular, has been highlighted as a significant concern. The brand’s privacy policy is alarmingly broad, suggesting the collection of a range of sensitive personal data, which could potentially be sold or shared. Despite assurances from a Nissan spokesperson regarding compliance and transparency, the scope of data gathering is unsettling.

Other manufacturers such as Volkswagen, Kia, and Mercedes-Benz have also been criticized for their data practices. Mercedes-Benz, with TikTok pre-installed in their cars, raises additional privacy questions. While BMW states that it does not sell customer data and offers individual data privacy controls, the overall industry trend is disconcerting. People expect these sort of violations across some devices and often call IT support to protect against them, but the volume of data that is being harvested from within the car with limited options to stop it is very worrying.

Manufacturers often present their privacy policies as assurances of safety, a practice termed “privacy washing” by Mozilla. However, the reality is that these policies are often vague and non-binding. Even consent is a grey area, with some brands considering any passenger as having implicitly agreed to data collection.

As consumers, it’s vital to be aware of these practices and to understand that the comfort of our vehicles does not equate to privacy. Our cars are no longer just modes of transportation but are now also portals to our personal lives for manufacturers and possibly other entities. It’s a reality that requires attention and, more importantly, informed consent from all of us as users.

These issues don’t just end at the cars we drive, privacy violations extend to all our devices. If you have concerns about your privacy and would like general IT support (or even just your computer repaired) feel free to give us a call or email.

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