Car Makers Shouldn’t Be Selling Our Driving History to Data Brokers and Insurance Companies


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You accelerated multiple times on your way to Yosemite for the weekend. You braked when driving to a doctor appointment. If your car has internet capabilities, GPS tracking or OnStar, your car knows your driving history.

And now we know: your car insurance carrier might know it, too.

In a recent New York Times article, Kashmir Hill reported how everyday moments in your car like these create a data footprint of your driving habits and routine that is, in some cases, being sold to insurance companies. Collection often happens through so-called “safe driving” programs pre-installed in your vehicle through an internet-connected service on your car or a connected car app. Real-time location tracking often starts when you download an app on your phone or tap “agree” on the dash screen before you drive your car away from the dealership lot.

Technological advancements in cars have come a long way since General Motors launched OnStar in 1996. From the influx of mobile data facilitating in-car navigation, to the rise of telematics in the 2010s, cars today are more internet-connected than ever. This enables, for example, delivery of emergency warnings, notice of when you need an oil change, and software updates. Recent research predicts that by 2030, more than 95% of new passenger cars will contain some form of internet-connected service and surveillance.

Car manufacturers including General Motors, Kia, Subaru, and Mitsubishi have some form of services or apps that collect, maintain, and distribute your connected car data to insurance companies. Insurance companies spend thousands of dollars purchasing your car data to factor in these “select insights” about your driving behavior. Those insights are then factored into your “risk score,” which can potentially spike your insurance premiums.

As Hill reported, the OnStar Smart Driver program is one example of an internet-connected service that collects driver data and sends it to car manufacturers. They then sell this digital driving profile to

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