Modern cars a ‘privacy nightmare’ that collect face, sex data: research

Mozilla's *Privacy Not Included said each of the 25 car brands it tested earning it's privacy warning label

Mozilla’s *Privacy Not Included project has dubbed cars the worst product category it’s ever reviewed when it comes to privacy.

The *Privacy Not Included project, for those who may not be familiar with it, is a buyer’s guide for technology but through the lens of privacy. From connected toys to smart home products to, now, vehicles, the project aims to offer consumers information on the security and privacy of the technology they buy.

*Privacy Not Included just released tons of research about car brands, calling modern cars a “privacy nightmare.” The project researched some 25 brands, all of which earned the project’s warning label and making the product category officially the worst the project has reviewed so far.

The team’s research found that vehicles from BMW, Ford, Toyota, Tesla, Subaru and more collect data about drivers, which can include race, facial expressions, weight, health information and the locations people drive to. Mozilla even found that some vehicles collected data about sexual activity and immigration status.

Cars use various tools to harvest data, including microphones, cameras, and the phones that drivers connect to their cars. Car makers also collect data through their apps and websites, which they can sell or share with third parties.

Mozilla pegged Nissan and Tesla some of the worst offenders. Nissan’s privacy policy suggests the company collects information including sexual activity, health diagnosis data, and genetic data. However, it’s not clear how Nissan gathers that data. Moreover, the company reserves the right to sell or share much of that data with data brokers, law enforcement, and other third parties. Many other manufacturers didn’t fare much better in Mozilla’s tests.

Moreover, the project couldn’t determine whether brands encrypt any of the data they collect. Even the few manufacturers who responded to the team’s questions about security (Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and technically Ford, according to the team) couldn’t completely answer basic security questions.

To make this all worse, *Privacy Not Included said it spent over 600 hours researching the privacy practices of vehicle manufacturers, three times as much time per product than normal, because everything is so confusing.

And don’t think passengers are safe either. The team highlighted Subaru as an example, as the company considers that passengers in the car have “consented” to allow the company to use and maybe sell their personal information, just for stepping into a car.

Overall, the project’s research paints a grim picture of privacy and security — or the extreme lack thereof — in modern vehicles. And that’s just in the overarching summary of the research. Things get even more wild when you dig into the lengthy research presented for each of the 25 brands *Privacy Not Included looked into. You can find it all here.

Source: *Privacy Not Included Via: Gizmodo