A new report from the Government Accountability Office says that carmakers, GPS manufactures, and app developers can collect navigation data from vehicles without permission and without disclosing how that information is used.
The GAO report named ten companies, including Chrysler, Ford, Garmin, GM, Google Maps, Nissan, and Toyota, which gather data from on-board navigation and keep that data for varying lengths of time.
“Without clear disclosures, risks increase that data may be collected or shared for purposes that the consumer is not expecting or might not have agreed to,” the report says.
GAO says even if a driver requests that their data be destroyed, the company is not legally bound to do so.
“Without the ability to delete data, consumers are unable to prevent the use or retention of their data, should they wish to do so,” it said.
Companies are able to “track where consumers are, which can in turn be used to steal their identity, stalk them or monitor them without their knowledge. In addition, location data can be used to infer other sensitive information about individuals such as their religious affiliation or political activities,” the report said.
The report stems from an investigation requested by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., chair of the judiciary committee on privacy.
“Modern technology now allows drivers to get turn-by-turn directions in a matter of seconds, but our privacy laws haven’t kept pace with these enormous advances,” Franken said in a statement. “Companies providing in-car location services are taking their customers’ privacy seriously — but this report shows that Minnesotans and people across the country need much more information about how the data are being collected, what they’re being used for, and how they’re being shared with third parties.”
Franken plans to reintroduce the Location Privacy Protection Act now that the report is released.
“It’s just commonsense that all companies should get their customers’ clear permission before they collect or share their location information,” Franken said.