Alan Mulally, of Ford, Calls for Laws Protecting Driver Privacy

Posted by at 11:47 am on January 21, 2014

Alan-Mulally-CEO-of-Ford-001Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally has been in the news quite a bit the past few months as a potential runner-up for Microsoft’s open chief executive position, but with those hopes dashed, Mulally is back to auto issues — more specifically, driver privacy.

Per  The Detroit News, Mulally wants federal regulators to create laws that protect the privacy of drivers with vehicles that record their actions.

“It’s really important that we have boundaries and guidelines,” said Mulally. “I think this area of privacy — and it always has been — (is) the domain of the government.”

Mulally’s comments follow a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which discovered that major automakers have separate policies regarding the amount of data they collect and how long they keep it. The government report covered Detroit’s Big Three automakers, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co.

Vehicles today are loaded with technology that tracks driver locations in order to help them find a destination, navigate traffic, find the closest gas station, etc. While this is generally understood by drivers, the GAO report revealed that the major automakers not only carry different policies on how much data they collect and how long it’s retained, but that they also don’t allow drivers to request that their data be deleted.

The government report suggested that automakers keep location data safe by de-identifying it, only keep location data as long as they need and delete the data after a certain amount of time.

Before the GAO report, Ford marketing chief Jim Farley announced at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2014 that “we know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing.”

Mulally’s call for privacy laws also comes at a time when Ford and other automakers are looking to use data in new ways, such as targeted advertisements in cars. For instance, when a driver passes a certain restaurant or store, an ad can be sent to the driver for in-store specials and more.

Ford’s patent for targeted in-car advertisements said personal information would not be included in driver data, but rather, “generic” information would be sent for the advertisements.

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