by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News

Almost all modern-day vehicles are now connected to the Internet with the ability to transmit your personal data back to the car manufacturer where it can then be viewed and sold to others.

Tesla is probably the worst one, due to the fact that some models have up to 9 cameras, and a recently published report admitted that Tesla employees were sharing photos and videos of Tesla owners, including “intimacy”, their kids, and their location. See:

Is Your Car Recording You? Tesla Employees Admit to Sharing Photos and Videos of Owners Including “Intimacy”, Kids, and Location

Vice reported on a new free online tool that drivers can use to see how much their car may be spying on them.

new tool that is free to use for consumers aims to better inform people about the types of data their particular car manufacturer might be collecting and sharing about their identity and driving patterns.

The Vehicle Privacy Report tool, made by automotive privacy company Privacy4Cars, is based on a manual and automatic analysis of car manufacturers’ data collection policies. Users enter their vehicle identification number (VIN), and the tool provides information based on those policies.

“People never really thought about their car as an electronic device,” Andrea Amico, the founder of Privacy4Cars, told Motherboard. The Vehicle Privacy Report tool, Amico hopes, will lift the “giant fog” about data collection in the automotive industry.

Motherboard has previously covered the various parts of the vehicle data collection business. One company called Otonomo sells granular location data of peoples’ vehicles. In another case, a surveillance contractor that has sold services to the U.S. military had aspirations to sell similar information to government customers.

After entering their VIN, the Vehicle Privacy Report tool says the types of data it believes the car manufacturer collects. This includes identifiers, location data, biometrics, and data synced from mobile phones. The tool also lists the sorts of entities the manufacturer may share or sell data to, such as insurance companies, data brokers, or the government. (It is expected behavior for companies to share collected data with law enforcement under a valid court order or similar).

The tool will also say if the vehicle has telematics, which is when a car has its own cellular data plan separate from the driver’s smartphone. For cars with telematics, the tool describes them as a “smartphone on wheels.” For those without, the tool says they are like a “hard-drive on wheels.” (Read the full article.)

I have used the online tool and can verify that it returned accurate results for the vehicle I normally drive. It is an older vehicle that has no “telematics.”

“Telematics” means the vehicle has its own connection to the Internet that it can connect to without your knowledge by using nearby cell phone towers.

Some older vehicles can only connect to the Internet through your own cell phone, and even older ones have no way to connect the vehicle to the Internet at all, which is what I prefer.

This service can save you a lot of time if you are looking to purchase a used, older vehicle, and want to know whether or not it has “telematics.”

They will even help you “Assert Your Data Rights.”

While this service is free, the company makes money by selling an app called “The Privacy4Cars Identity Theft Protection Program.

They have another free app that helps you delete your personal data before you sell your car, or after using a car temporarily, such as a rental car, carshare, rideshare, etc.

I have no connection with this company and have not used their paid service, but I wanted to make their services known to our readers because we need to support these kinds of companies that value privacy and help others resist the Big Tech takeover of our private lives.

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