It’s kind of funny, in a cynical sort of way, that at the same time the US is dealing with the controversial byproducts of the NSA and the Patriot Act, German automakers are likewise grappling with the troublesome implications of data collection in connected and autonomous vehicles. At the forefront: the notion that consumer data collected by current and future cars could be exploited by third parties for commercial gain.
We know; we’re comparing commercial data collection to government spying, which is sort of like comparing apples to a different, less tasty species of apples. Still, both arguments are fundamentally about privacy.
On that note, it seems that Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has recently taken a firm stance against the collection and exploitation of consumer data by third parties. According to news site re/code, Stadler said at a business event in Berlin last Tuesday that “a car is one’s second living room today. That’s private. The only person who needs access to the data onboard is the customer.”
While consumer data about speed, frequent routes, current location, and driving habits may seem to be of little interest to anyone beside insurance companies and law enforcement, that information might be more valuable than one would think. Advertisers might find such consumer data useful for targeting potential customers, for instance.
But software and data streaming are becoming increasingly important in the automotive sector as more suppliers look to sell “smart” infotainment features to automakers. And, of course, consumer data will be absolutely essential to future autonomous vehicles.
Still, Audi and others remain firm on the issue. Said Rupert Stadler: “The customer wants to be at the focus, and does not want to be exploited.”