An innocent car rental can identify who we are, where we go, and who our cell phone contacts are. Who would think programming your “infotainment” preferences into your rental car dashboard could reveal so much about you? Privacy International (PI) knows and they’re hoping to do something about it.
PI, a UK-based firm, recently released a report called Connected Cars: What Happens To Our Data On Rental Cars? It’s declares an all-out information war with car rental titans. PI found that no rental car or car sharing company has a policy about deleting or protecting your infotainment information.
According to Millie Graham Wood of PI, “…internet-connected cars know our current location, patterns of movement, connect to our smartphones to download our contacts and messages, may collect our browsing habits and know our music taste. The volume of data collected by infotainment systems and telematics units is growing.”
A main focus of PI is getting rental agencies to have one easy button to push that deletes any and all information the car collects. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is also on board, suggesting ways rental car customers can protect their infotainment and cell phone data.
Don’t use the built-in USB ports to charge cell phones and other devices. Doing that can permanently puts information held on those devices into the dashboard, making it easily accessible to info hackers. The FTC suggests using chargers that inserts into the vehicle’s cigarette lighters to power-up.
Limit dashboard requests for access to different information. They suggest limiting access only to what you choose to use. If you’re just programming music preferences, deny any requests to collect contacts or data from other connected devices, for example.
Take time to delete all collected data before returning your rental car. Check the infotainment menu to see what other devices have been connected. If you need help, check the car manual, research it on the Internet before returning the vehicle, or ask the rental company how to delete it.
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