Do you know how much your car knows about you?
The murky world of online data collection is incredibly commonplace, but it's now becoming more prevalent in our cars.
We all breeze past the cookies banner when we enter a new website, it's such a routine thing that is a prime part of how we use the internet, but also how the internet uses us.
How our smart devices collect data about us is a spooky thing to behold indeed, even if it is convenient to only need to type two letters into the search bar and it immediately know what you're after. But where's the limit? Facebook is arguably one of the worst, it has a history of partnering with companies that monitor what adverts users see, and what they then do having seen it. And not just online. See an advert for a pair of shoes, but buy them in a brick and mortar store? They know. And what price have they previously put on your head? About £9.37.
We love some Blackmirror style corporations selling your personality to other corporations for less than a pint of beer in London.
Google is just as bad, skimming information from you whenever you use their search engine, email service, or even Google Maps. And this is where the leap to your car is made. Manufacturer sat-navs aren't terrible these days, but in a modern car, you'd just use CarPlay/Andriod Auto hook up your phone and use whatever, Waze, Apple Maps, Google Maps. You've successfully brought "big tech" along for the ride.
Lots of data, but it doesn't know if I want pancakes or where I can get a good pair of cowboy boots from.
The US Customs and Border Protection bought in MSAB, a Swedish data-extraction firm to have a look at what information your phone and your car's infotainment system are storing. After shelling out over $450,000 for the hardware to do this, CBP revealed that the amount of data your car is collecting on you is seemingly unending. Including recent destinations, emails, navigation logs, social media feeds, and even specific vehicle events like "which doors are opened and closed at specific locations." That last one might not seem so interesting, but what about modern taxis where there's a massive screen in with the driver, where they can input your destination. What about Uber and other such services, pair door opening locations to client data lifted from Uber and you can piece together the life of the passenger of a car.
Currently, MSAB's technology is compatible with vehicles from manufacturers including Audi, BMW, Dodge, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and Volkswagen.
Again, handy, but it can't tell me where I can get a pair of practical and comfortable cowboy boots at a reasonable price.
While you might find it useful to have a connected car that knows when there's traffic ahead and to reroute or being able to switch it on before you get there so the windscreen is clear and the seats are toasty, there is the other side to this situation. In the UK, this isn't such a big part of the story, but in the US where warrantless phone searches are part and parcel of policing the land of the free, having access to where someone goes, stops, shops, as well as where and when could be an incredibly powerful tool. It certainly is food for thought. Just don't stop off at a drive-through to get that food, because your car knows.
Ok, this app does look fun. Although it being a Porsche app I shouldn't think it's a free app. Likely an extortionate extra you have to get at the dealership.