Ford recently announced a new and hopefully better version of its infotainment system that will be called Sync 3. This is big news, but what is even bigger news is that they’ve just hired Paul Ballew to the new post of Chief Data and Analytics Officer. That fancy title means he’s going to help decide what Ford should do with all the data their system collects about your car, and you.
Privacy is becoming an increasing concern as we become more and more plugged in to our cars. They track our every move and that data could prove useful to any number of sources. Law enforcement could use it to determine who is at fault in an accident. Companies could use it to determine what kinds of products to develop, and automakers could use it to better provide the services you want in an infotainment system.
It sounds good, except that no one wants their data being handed out all willy-nilly. Ford hired Ballew in an effort to make sure that all that data is handled responsibly and used to improve the driving experiences of Ford owners. Still, privacy issues loom despite laws that limit just how your personal information can be shared. The Driver Privacy Protection Act of 1994 is one such law, but did you catch that date? We’re talking a law 20 years old, way before today’s connected cars.
Some are calling for laws that are more comprehensive, like what HIPAA does for your healthcare data, but right now there’s nothing even close to that restrictive for cars. What we do have are lots of promises from automakers that they aren’t sharing our data and tools like syncmyride which allow owners to adjust the privacy settings of their cars .
Even if you opt out of having your data intentionally shared, that doesn’t mean that it might not be accidentally shared anyway. The Sony hack let loose all sorts of emails that company employees never thought would circulate into the public. The possibility that someone could hack your car to access data and even emails and texts that you’ve sent isn’t far-fetched.
Ford hopes that Paul Ballew will help steer them in the right direction, finding a balance between keeping personal information private but at the same time using it to provide a better in-vehicle experience. Even if automakers are responsible in how they handle our data, we’re still putting an awful lot out there for hackers to grab every time we turn on our cars and go for a drive.