High-tech cars can secretly track drivers and provide data to insurance companies

(NewsNation) — A new report suggests your car isn’t just getting you from point A to point B, it might be spying on you.

A New York Times investigation found that many cars monitor the behavior of their drivers and secretly share that data with insurance companies and others without their owners’ knowledge.

The report found that several major automakers are using optionally connected car apps to track driving metrics such as hard braking, hard acceleration, and speeding. This telematics data is analyzed by a data broker such as LexisNexis Risk Solutions to create a “risk score” that is provided to insurance companies.

Insurers use these secret risk assessments to increase premiums for some drivers who exhibit patterns deemed unsafe. Even if the driver didn’t have an accident and hasn’t been ticketed.

“Today’s drivers don’t realize that their cars are computers, collecting information about everything they do,” Kashmir Hill, the Times technology reporter behind the revelations, said Wednesday. In an interview on NewsNation’s “Dan Abrams Live.”

Hill disclosed the data sharing after monitoring online forums where drivers of cars such as the Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac reported unexplained price hikes. A Cadillac owner in Florida was denied insurance by seven insurance companies based on a LexisNexis report and paid twice as much in premiums as before.

The matter takes an even darker turn for domestic violence survivor Christine Dowdall, who believes her estranged husband illegally used the Mercedes-Benzmbrace app to track her car’s location and stalk her after he fled. It became.

“I contacted [Mercedes] Many times…it didn’t matter,” Dowdall said. “The only thing they contacted me about was payment.”

Drivers of General Motors vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt, Camaro, and Corvette reported sudden increases in their insurance premiums.

The data was provided to LexisNexis by GM’s in-vehicle telematics system, Smart Driver.

While automakers claim they can disable these tracking features, Hill points out that your data may remain with third-party brokers even after you opt out.

“It’s shocking how little awareness drivers have about the extent of data their cars collect,” Hill says. “Many people were completely unaware that their cars were meticulously recording their driving habits and transmitting that information to third-party organizations.”

A Mozilla Foundation study found that 84% of the 25 auto brands analyzed, including Nissan, Toyota, Chevrolet, BMW, and Kia, share and sell customer data. This includes not only your driving habits, but also potentially sensitive information such as your medical records, genetic data, and details about your sex life.

But that’s not the only invasion of privacy. The report also found that more than half of the auto brands surveyed can share personal information with law enforcement or government agencies without a court order.

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