Drivers: We'll take that plain dumb car over a flashy data-spilling internet one, thanks

Now that's a smart move

CES Despite all the buzz around internet-connected smart cars at this year's CES in Las Vegas, most folks don't want vehicle manufacturers sharing their personal data with third parties – and even say they'd consider buying an older or dumber car to protect their privacy and security.

According to a survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by Kaspersky in November and published this week, 72 percent of drivers are uncomfortable with automakers sharing their data with advertisers, insurance companies, subscription services, and other third-party outfits. Specifically, 37.3 percent of those polled are "very uncomfortable" with this data sharing, and 34.5 percent are "somewhat uncomfortable."

However, only 28 percent of the total respondents say they have any idea what kind of data their car is collecting. Spoiler alert: It's potentially all the data. An earlier Mozilla Foundation investigation, which assessed the privacy policies and practices of 25 automakers, gave every single one a failing grade. 

In Moz's September Privacy Not Included report, the org warned that car manufacturers aren't only potentially collecting and selling things like location history, driving habits and in-car browser histories. Some connected cars may also track drivers' sexual activity, immigration status, race, facial expressions, weight, health, and even genetic information, if that information becomes available.

Back to the Kaspersky survey: 87 percent said automakers should be required to delete their data upon request. Depending on where you live, and thus the privacy law you're under, the manufacturers may be obligated to do so.

Oddly, while motorists are worried about their cars sharing their data with third parties, they don't seem that concerned about their vehicles snooping on them in the first place.

Less than half (41.8 percent) of respondents said they are worried about their vehicle's sensors, infotainment system, cameras, microphones, and other connected apps and services might be collecting their personal data. And 80 percent of respondents pair their phone with their car anyway, allowing data and details of activities to be exchanged between apps and the vehicle and potentially its manufacturer.

This echoes another survey published this week that found many drivers are willing to trade their personal data and privacy for driver personalization — things like seat, mirror, and entertainment preferences (43 percent) — and better insurance rates (67 percent).

The study also surveyed 2,000 American drivers to come up with these numbers and found that while most drivers (68 percent) don't mind automakers collecting their personal data, only five percent believe this surveillance should be unrestricted, and 63 percent said it should be on an opt-in basis.

Perhaps it's time for vehicle makers to take note. ®

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