US court ruling grants car infotainment systems authority to store and share user data, ignites privacy concerns

Washington Court of Appeals rules that car infotainment systems can now legally store and share your text messages and call logs, even after deletion. Privacy concerns are soaring as this affects big automakers like Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, GM, and Ford.

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The recent Washington Court of Appeals court decision permits car infotainment systems to lawfully store and transmit users’ text messages and call logs, even post-deletion. This ruling, causing substantial concerns about privacy and data security, allows car manufacturers like Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, General Motors, and Ford to gather and retain personal data without user consent or awareness. Dismissing claims of violating Washington state’s privacy laws, the court argued that the plaintiffs couldn’t demonstrate actual harm to their business or reputation. This decision flags potential risks as this data might be accessible to carmakers and law enforcement or cyber threats.

This ruling comes after a recent investigation has exposed that new automobiles have received a dismal ‘F’ rating regarding data privacy, ranking them as the lowest-performing category among various products, including fitness trackers and smart speakers, assessed by Mozilla since 2017. The study uncovered that most prominent car manufacturers openly admit to the possibility of selling personal data and are open to sharing it with government authorities or law enforcement agencies without requiring a court order.

Why does it matter?

The case highlights the pressing need for strong privacy regulations, especially in the context of connected cars and the internet of things (IoT). Users might reconsider linking their phones to cars or seek other ways to protect their data, while car companies may struggle to assure users about data safety. This ruling might echo globally, stressing the importance of stringent privacy measures in our advancing technological landscape.