By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s technology that many of us use each and every day, but are the computer systems in our cars being used by others too? As 3 On Your Side consumer reporter Jim Donovan finds, your car may be spying on you and the information it collects might be used against you.
On-board computers can make a call, get you directions or even make you dinner reservations.
In fact these days your car may be tracking every move you make and in some cases every word you say!
“For instance the Ford My Sync system, the terms of service reserve the right for Ford to record entire calls,” said Nate Cardozo with Electric Frontier Foundation.
Cardozo says according to Ford’s terms of service, it’s something drivers consent to by simply using the technology.
When Ken Leung needed a tow, he called the Nissan help line.
“They knew exactly where I was and they sent a tow truck to tow,” said Leung.
But if Nissan knew where he was, what else does it know?
“The manufacturer of their car probably knows where they are at all times and where they’ve been,” said Cardozo.
Cardozo says auto companies are gathering information every time you use the voice activated systems or computer in your car.
“The manufacturer will retain a record of what they search for, any text messages they dictated and could share that information with advertiser or even insurers,” said Cardozo.
And almost all cars have a black box of sorts, that records a lot more than that.
“It gathers information about where you’re driving. How fast you’re driving. How fast you’re going around corners. How you use your brakes and some cars, because of the seat belt sensors, can also tell how many people are in the car,” said Jeff Spring with Automobile Club.
Right now this is information that consumers don’t have access to – but third parties often do.
Aside from advertisers, it’s commonly used by law enforcement in accident investigations. Cardoza says your location and driving data could potentially be subpoenaed for anything from a civl suit to divorce proceedings without your knowledge.
“Right now we have know way of knowing what the manufacturer does with the data,” said Cardozo.
Privacy advocates are calling for limits on what information vehicles can collect and with whom that information can be shared. And they want a feature that enables drivers to opt out every-time they turn on their ignition.