Do You Mind Being Mined?

  • August 2, 2023

Most people are aware that new cars collect data. Few know they’ve been doing it for decades.  

Few know how much data they collect. And who has access to it.

On Board Diagnostics – a system that records data about engine operation – has been around since the mid-1990s. GM’s OnStar system goes back even farther. The latest systems go much further.

They can record – and transmit – data about your movements and your preferences, both of which are of great interest to corporations interested in making money by selling information about you to interested parties. And also to the government and its lampreys, such as the insurance mafia – which is very interested in how you drive. 

What’s most interesting, though, is that all of this information about you is – somehow – not under your control, even though you are the legal owner of the car. The fact that the information the car collects can be mined without your consent establishing the odd fact. 

It’s possible because new cars are connected cars.

Data is transmitted as well as received – typically without the owner’s conscious knowledge. He may have signed a User Agreement at the time of purchase – along with all of the other paperwork associated with the purchase of a new vehicle. But the details and implications may not have been fully explained – or got lost in the fine print.

The point is the manufacturers – i.e., the car companies – have real-time, wireless access to the data collected and stored by your car. So also, at least potentially, the government.

Big business wants to know what you like – and what you buy. 

And big government likes the idea of being able to keep track of where you’re going (in real time) as well as where you have been.

Connected tech could easily be used to facilitate mileage taxes – in addition to gas taxes, which will never be repealed or lowered. Connected tech could also be used to “lock down” your car during the next “lock down.”  

Many people don’t know that most new cars also have built-in cameras and microphones that are capable of recording visual and audio data.

Your opinions can be mined.

It works very much in the way that Siri and Amazon Alexa work. A number of new cars (including several Toyota models) already have Alexa built into them from the factory.

The interests want your data to be their property. The way they want to do this is by making the data (and access to it) proprietary. You nominally own the vehicle – and get to pay for it.

But they assert ownership of the data.

Right now, they are fighting among themselves for what’s on the table. GM recently announced it would soon be using its own, in-house technology to power the wireless/Bluetooth apps in GM electric vehicles, rather than software developed by Apple (CarPlay) or Google (Android Auto). That way, GM controls the data – and can profit from mining it.

Meanwhile, the source of all this data – and revenue – doesn’t even get a rebate coupon in the mail.

. . .

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