My car, my data – not Big Brother’s

UK drivers want to own the data from their 'connected cars'

UK drivers want to own the data from their 'connected cars'

UK drivers want to own the data from their 'connected cars'

UK drivers think that they themselves rather than car manufacturers should decide who has automatic and unfettered access to data from ‘connected cars’, according to the AA.

Connected cars equipped with sensors, GPS (location awareness) and communication devices can collect, store and send more and more data about drivers' behaviour, preferences and vehicle status.  Connected car systems available today can also help before or after a breakdown, help the emergency services rescue people after a crash, tailor commercial offers related to a trip or warn of a car’s maintenance needs.

Data about a car's status, the number of passengers and its driving pattern enables companies to offer personalised services.  However, there is a rush to control this data and many vehicle manufacturers, who control this data at present, aim to become the service provider for all car-related needs.

Who is the owner of the data?

Research by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) among 12,013 respondents across 12 countries found that, when asked 'who is the owner of the data your car generates' 69% (71% in the UK) said the car owner and 41% (46% in the UK) said the car driver. Only 9% (7% in the UK) agreed that the car manufacturer was the owner.

A recent technical test conducted by the FIA shows the extent of data which is collected and transmitted from a connected car.  This ranges from keeping a record of destinations entered into the sat-nav to synchronisation of information collected from mobile telephones.

When shown the benefits of connected car technology, drivers’ suspicions and trust ease considerably. The FIA survey found that:

  • Almost all (85% overall (88% in the UK) would be willing to share vehicle information in the event of a breakdown.
  • The most popular features that respondents would be willing to buy a connected car for were: improved safety (56%), improved fuel economy (48%) and avoiding congestion/improving traffic flow (39%).
  • However, it is also important to drivers that they can switch off all communication from a connected vehicle if they choose to. Overall 91% agreed that this should be possible.

Connected cars offer drivers a vast array of new and exciting services plus they can help with breakdowns and crashes

Edmund King, AA president

Full, informed consent

The AA and other motoring clubs (members of the FIA) across Europe believe that access to data about drivers’ mobility habits should only be with their full, informed consent. They should be the ones who decide if data is shared and with whom. This would ensure that drivers’ have the freedom to choose any service they like for their motoring over the car's lifetime, and would allow service providers to compete freely to offer the most added-value for the data drivers agree to share.  To help achieve this a Europe-wide ‘My Car My Data’ campaign has been launched to inform motorists, press for protection of data and freedom of choice. 

Edmund King, AA president, says: “Connected cars offer drivers a vast array of new and exciting services plus they can help with breakdowns and crashes.

“It is clear drivers may be unaware of just what information is collected, how it is used, who owns it and how is it protected.  We support the FIA’s campaign aimed at ensuring there is greater transparency with this rapidly developing motoring technology.   It is also clear that the majority of drivers in the UK think the car owner or driver should own the data and 90% would be willing to share that information in the event of a breakdown. Drivers have a right to demand ‘My car. My data’."

The AA is working on several connected car initiatives and pilots linked to helping members avoid breakdowns and to make their lives easier on the roads. The AA has been deemed to be the UK’s most trusted brand and will be harnessing that trust to help members get the most out of connected cars.

The key word in this brave new connected world is ‘consent’.


(10 December 2015)