FTC, NHTSA Rev Up Connected Car Privacy Issues

The Federal Trade Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are holding their first connected car joint workshop June 28 in Washington, D.C.

On hand will be FTC acting chair Maureen Ohlhausen and NHTSA acting executive director Terry Shelton.

The workshop will bring together consumer advocates, industry stakeholders, government officials and others and will be webcast here.

Among the topics for discussion are the types of data that will be collected and shared over the internet, the privacy and security practices of vehicle manufacturers, the role of the FTC and other government agencies in privacy and security, and what self-regulatory standards might need to be applied.

In its public notice announcing the June 28 meeting, the FTC pointed to a Forbes story predicting that by 2020 autonomous vehicles will generate 4,000 gigabits apiece of data per day, compared to the 650-per-day that people now generate using PCs and mobile devices.

Related: NCTA: V2V Proposal Is Straying Into FCC's Lane

The FTC has held similar meetings on a variety of issues including the Internet of Things, facial recognition and apps, all with the goal of examining the privacy and security issues of the increasingly broadband-connected world and coming up with voluntary privacy standards if possible.

In advance of the meeting, the Future of Privacy Forum released an infographic (above) representing the complicated data flows involved in connecting vehicles. 

“The benefits of connected vehicle technologies are crucial to addressing the 94% of car accidents that are caused by human error,” said Lauren Smith, FPF’s connected cars policy counsel. “But we need to foster transparency and communication around consumer data use in order to deploy them responsibly. Conversations between lawmakers, consumers, and businesses such as those happening tomorrow need to go beyond the current day and focus on building trustworthy data practices—and communicating them—as vehicles advance. We think that explaining cars’ data-transmitting devices and flows is an important first step.” 

The graphic is part of a consumer guide to "personal Data in Your Car" with tips about understanding how new tech is powering new cars and what types of data they collect and use, including a privacy checklist for selling a connected car: "Did you delete your synced contacts list? How about your garage door programming? And don’t forget to wipe your home address on that navigation system!"

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.