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Building Trust

It’s hard to read anything these days without some reference to a technological advancement. Technology is changing so quickly that it’s difficult to keep up on the latest version of a device or all the hot new gadgets. Everything from cell phones to computers to home appliances now contain more data and have more capabilities than we ever thought possible.

Our cars are getting smarter, too. Today’s automobile has shifted from being a mode of transportation to a supercomputer on wheels. New car models may contain as many as a hundred microprocessors that control everything from safety features to infotainment systems. The way things are going, within a decade most cars will be able to identify problems before breakdowns occur, reduce crashes, and–in some cases–even drive themselves. 

To do those things, cars with such high-tech features will need to collect and transmit large amounts of data. And like other emerging technologies, these new capabilities are presenting new questions. For example, who controls the potentially sensitive information your vehicle produces? Should cars transmit only safety and mechanical information? What about personal and behavioral data to provide consumers with enhanced services?

As an advocate for the motorist, AAA is looking to our members to understand their opinions on this topic. Based on a recent AAA survey, most car owners are not informed about the types of data being transmitted by these newer vehicles. While most members are comfortable with transmissions related to the car’s performance or mechanical well-being, that comfort level declines dramatically when the data extends to more personal matters such as when, where, and how you drive. Our members are telling us they want the right to choose where their data goes and how it is used.

At AAA, our position is to inform, protect, and advocate about the rights of motorists. This year, a number of states are looking at ways to give car owners information about, and control over, the kinds of data their cars generate. Today’s cars are safer and smarter, but you should still be the one in the driver’s seat.

Jim McGrath

Mar/Apr 2014 Issue

Jim McGrath

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