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Cell Phones Are More Private Than Cars, According To A Study

Tesla Model S Plaid electric muscle car supercar hypercar ev 0-60 acceleration
Image via Tesla

Cars are amazing. Trucks and SUVs, too. And vans! Because along with being a means to a destination, it’s also how you get there. You don’t have to wait for the public transit to show up. You don’t have to deal with crowds, strangers, odd smells, ne’er-do-wells, or hostile people in your own vessel. It’s more hygienic (remember when public transit tanked in 2020?), and you can put things in it, like groceries and mulch. You can also leave for your destination on your own time, take your own route, and go at your own speed (for now). You also have more privacy. However, it turns out that last part isn’t exactly true.

If you’re in a modern automobile these days, chances are your data is being recorded. And while that data may help manufacturers improve vehicles in the future, that same data is always subject to be distributed at the company’s discretion.

Why Is There No Privacy In A Modern Car?

According to Mozilla, which recently reviewed the privacy of the automotive industry, modern cars fall into the worst product category when it comes to customer privacy. Out of 25 car brands, each one collects more personal data than necessary and uses that information for something other than to operate the vehicle or manage the company’s relationship with the customer. Car companies can collect personal information from how you interact with your car-connected services used in the vehicle, and the app, which is through your phone, information can be collected from that device as well. Data can also be collected from third-party sources like Sirius XM or Google Maps.

2024 Jeep Wrangler infotainment data vehicle recording maps privacy


It turns out that all of this data contains information, including medical information, genetic information, and even your “sex life.” Some companies may say the first two are vital for modern cars’ SOS features, but wow, if that’s not pushing boundaries, we don’t know what will. Of course, other information, including how fast you drive, where you drive, and what songs you listen to, is also recorded. But here’s the real kicker: It turns out that 84% of the car brands that were researched say they can share your data with service providers, data brokers, and other businesses. Meanwhile, 76% state that they can sell your data. Finally, 56% also say they can share your information with the government or law enforcement in response to a “request.” That’s not a court order request, just a simple “informal request.”

And if you think that only pertains to “legacy automakers,” no. Tesla recently got busted for mishandling sensitive information, too.

There’s an entire chart detailing all manufacturers tested for customer privacy. Most brands receive almost all the red flags possible, with Tesla receiving a mark for each potential test. In other words, owning a “computer on wheels” isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. As technology advances and manufacturers put more tech into the cars, privacy will continue to dwindle. And just you wait for the dash cams. Moreover, as battery electric vehicles are entirely controlled by software, that means everything can be cataloged.

If you care about your privacy, restore an older car with as many mechanical features as possible, or take care of the one you have.


Hummer EV's Ultium Battery Pack designed by General Motors and LG Chem
Image Via GMC.

Written by Zac Quinn

Zac's love for cars started at a young age, after seeing the popular Eleanor from Gone In 60 Seconds. From there, fascination and enthusiasm blossomed and to this day the Ford Mustang remains a favorite. His first job started out detailing cars, but also provided the opportunity to work on restoration including an 1968 Ford Mustang, Pontiac Firebird, and a C3 Corvette, though he left that job before further work and experience could be had. From there, he was a detailer at a car dealership before quitting that job to try and finish college.

Much of his free time while studying was spent watching YouTube videos regarding new cars, or off-roading. 4WD247 is a personal favorite channel which rekindled a dying flame in car enthusiasm, now tailored towards trucks and SUVs and the fun that can be had building up an overlanding rig, and going on adventures, though, that chapter remains unwritten for the time being.

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