January 24, 2022 Blog

From the Desk of John Bozzella: How the Auto Industry Protects Privacy

Today marks the beginning of Data Privacy Week. Expanding from a single day to a week this year, it represents an international effort to educate users about online privacy, how to identify whether their personal information is being used, and how to protect privacy and prevent data breaches. Privacy of data consistently ranks high on the list of public concerns and will remain there as digital transformations continue in every sector of the economy.

Just as our personal electronic devices and appliances have become more interconnected, so too have our automobiles. While these innovations benefit consumers by improving everything from vehicle safety to comfort and performance, they come with the responsibility for automakers to help protect such data and vehicle systems.

The auto industry has long embraced its role as responsible stewards of the personal data generated by vehicles and acted well in advance of governmental requirements to protect it. In 2014, 20 automakers agreed upon and committed to Consumer Privacy Protection Principles (Privacy Principles). Those Privacy Principles, enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission, include important commitments to provide consumers with ready access to clear notices about what vehicle data is collected and how it is used and shared. They also require affirmative consent from consumers before sensitive vehicle information, such as vehicle location information, can be used for marketing or shared with third parties.

The data motor vehicles generate is helping the auto industry build vehicles, systems and networks that can reduce emissions, improve road safety, and enhance the car-owning experience. For example, data from onboard computer systems and sensors relating to the operation and function of the vehicle and its systems can help a manufacturer identify potential safety issues, including those that may require a safety recall. An auto company may also collect vehicle data as part of its effort to develop and improve cutting-edge safety features, that supports automated driving systems.

As part of the Autos 2050 Future Driven Forum series, the Alliance for Automotive Innovation convened a panel of industry, regulatory, and privacy experts to discuss the auto industry’s Privacy Principles and examine the growing need for federal privacy legislation as states begin to enact a patchwork of privacy laws. The auto industry continues to engage with key regulators and elected officials at all levels of government so that our experiences can inform policymakers seeking to protect personal information and enhance the safety and efficiency of roadways.

Data privacy is playing an ever-increasing role in modern society, especially in the policy realm, and the automotive industry was ahead of the curve in addressing it. In the ongoing pursuit of a cleaner, safer, and smarter transportation future that is made possible through data-driven innovations, these Privacy Principles are more important than ever.

Learn more about Auto Innovators’ efforts to protect consumer privacy here.