Picture this, you’re on the freeway and stuck in traffic, as usual. The cars in the lane next to you speed up and you think about moving over to the lane behind a black SUV, but your car’s computer system lets you know the driver has a habit of slamming on his breaks. You forgo getting behind the SUV and watch another car crash into it. That’s right, the SUV braked abruptly and has now caused an accident. Such is the technology and information that is projected to be available to car owners by 2025 via wireless data transmission capabilities.
However, if SB 994 doesn’t pass, such information might not be in control of car owners. The new piece of legislation aims to give car owners the right to have both access and control to the information that is collected from vehicles via computer systems. The Automobile Club of Southern California is currently sponsoring the bill.
“We want automakers to give and provide disclosure, ensure the customers are informed and they understand what information is being collected and what’s being transmitted back to the automaker,” said AAA Corporate Communications Manager, Jeffrey Spring.
The bill was presented by Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, earlier this week. The bill states that currently, computers in vehicles can create and collect information that would be important for car owners, which include: the condition and performance of their motor vehicles, such as repair, maintenance, and diagnostic information.
They also “collect car location information including mileage tracking, frequently visit locations, they collect information on driving habits, acceleration, braking, whether or not the collision system was activated” and more, said Spring.
Currently, there is no policy that clearly states who has the right to control the distribution of information that is collected from vehicles. As of 2014, approximately one in five new cars is equipped with the wireless data transmission capabilities that are predicted to be part of the norm nearly a decade from now.
The Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers have dubbed the bill “AAA’s data grab,” in order to gain information from auto owner’s vehicles to increase insurance rates. “We’ve focused on issues that are important to motorists for decades,” said Spring. “We see an issue we think affects motorists, and we want to give them more than just information, but protection.”
The bill notes that limiting access to information among consumers on their vehicles has a negative effect on their ability to choose services and providers they prefer. Giving them control would allow them to choose what information they disclose to their auto insurer. Should the bill pass, the legislation will apply to new automobiles sold or leased on or after January 1, 2016.
“We’re not trying to tell an automaker how to build their car or their systems. We’re saying, this is what the expectation is,” said Spring. “You need to be able to figure out how to inform your customers, which to us makes sense from a consumer perspective. Make sure your customers are informed and then tell them what information is being gathered and how they can control it.”