How to Keep Your Car From Spying on You
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How to Keep Your Car From Spying on You

New features on cars and phone apps can track where you go, when and how fast—among many other things. Here’s what to do about it.

By BART ZIEGLER
Fri, Jun 7, 2024 8:00amGrey Clock 3 min

Your car is watching you. What can you do to stop it?

Many vehicles today and their related phone apps are packed with safety and convenience features, including digital maps, navigation linked to GPS and the internet, remote starting and vehicle locaters to find your car in a crowded parking lot. Many also have microphones for voice control and some have cameras that detect who is driving to adjust things such as the seat.

But those features and others can have a dark side: Many can track where you go and when, how fast you drive and how hard you brake, where you park and spend time, even what music or podcasts you listen to. Such information can be a gold mine for marketers and insurers—and a target for hackers.

Privacy researchers say car buyers may not realise they agree to have such data collected by the automaker when they sign the papers for a new vehicle or use the carmaker’s phone app.

The Mozilla Foundation, a technology-focused nonprofit, examined the privacy practices of 25 car brands. Its conclusion: “These are the worst of any category we’ve reviewed,” says Jen Caltrider, director of the group’s Privacy Not Included program. Among its findings are that most carmakers collect personal information, give customers little control over it, and may sell or share it with others.

Privacy experts say they also are concerned about provisions in car-maker privacy policies that allow them to share driver information with law-enforcement authorities under certain circumstances—sometimes without a warrant.

On May 14, the Federal Trade Commission told vehicle makers that it was  monitoring their actions  regarding car data. “Cars are much like mobile phones when it comes to revealing consumers’ persistent, precise location,” the agency said in a blog post. It added that companies “do not have the free license to monetise people’s information beyond purposes needed to provide their requested product or service….”

The industry response

The car industry says that the combination of vehicle data monitoring, GPS and wireless communication—a field known as telematics—provides important features, some of them safety-related. Some systems can detect when you’ve been in an accident and call emergency services, or locate a car if it’s stolen. They can help you avoid a traffic jam or potential road hazards. Cars also can give you maintenance reminders, such as when a vehicle needs an oil change or new tires, and allow the carmaker to track the durability and function of certain components for future improvements.

A vehicle-industry trade group in 2014 issued  voluntary guidelines  for the collection and use of car data. The group, now called the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, says its members should give car owners and lessees choice in the “collection, use and sharing” of certain information and that this information should be collected “only as needed for legitimate business purposes.”

Some privacy groups, however, say the voluntary guidelines aren’t specific enough and aren’t always followed.

“It seems like an empty promise,” says Thorin Klosowski, a security and privacy expert with the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Car companies are becoming tech companies. Self-policing hasn’t been shown in other tech industries to be a reliable way for companies to operate.”

What is needed, according to these experts, is a federal privacy-protection law along the lines of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. The car industry, for its part, also  backs a federal privacy law , in part to have a nationwide standard as a number of states have adopted their own, differing laws.

Most carmakers issue their own lengthy privacy policies stating how they collect and disseminate car data. Some state that they can share or sell the information to third parties including marketers if the car owner agrees to it.

Among the six biggest sellers of vehicles in the U.S., Ford Motor says customers can turn off data and location sharing with the company. It says it “doesn’t sell any connected-vehicle data to brokers, period.”  General Motors says it is “fostering trust through responsible data practices, enhanced user controls and clear benefits for customers.” Toyota says it gives customers “transparency and choice” in how vehicle data is collected and used and that they can “turn off all data transmission.”

Stellantis, owner of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep, says any data it collects “is in accordance with applicable state privacy laws  Accordingly, Stellantis provides customers with a way to opt out of data collection.” Honda says it is “very clear about what we collect and how our owners can opt out” and “when we might share collected data with third parties.” Hyundai declined to comment and deferred to the Alliance for Automotive Innovation for a response.



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A ‘cheeky’ seat takes out the top prize at Australia’s Next Top Designers Awards

A cash prize from Kanebridge Quarterly magazine, offered for the first time this year, drew a record number of entries for the design competition

By KANEBRIDGE NEWS
Mon, Jun 17, 2024 2 min

A versatile stool with a sense of fun took out the top prize at the Australia’s Next Top Designers awards at Design Show Australia last week.

The ‘Cheeky’ stool designed by Maryam Moghadam was the unanimous winner among the judging panel, which included Kanebridge Quarterly magazine Editor in Chief, Robyn Willis, Workshopped Creative Director Olaf Sialkowski, Design Show event organiser, Andrew Vaughan and Creative Director at Flexmirror Australia, Matt Angus.

Designed as an occasional stool or side table, the Cheeky stool comes in a range of skin tones. The judges applauded its commercial applications, its flexibility to work in a range of environments, and its sense of play.

In accepting the $10,000 prize, designer Maryam Moghadam quipped she was pleased to see ‘other people find bums as funny as I do’. A finalist at last year’s awards, Moghadam will put the prize money towards bringing her product to market.

Winner Maryam Moghadam said the $10,000 prize money would be put towards developing her product further for market.

Australia’s Next Top Designers is in its fourth year, but this is the first year a cash prize has been offered. Kanebridge Quarterly magazine has put up the prize money to support the next generation of emerging industrial design talent in Australia.

Editor in Chief Robyn Willis said the cash prize offered the winner the opportunity to put the money towards whatever aspect of their business it would most benefit.

“That might be prototyping their product further, spending on marketing, or simply paying for travel or even childcare expenses to allow the designer to focus on their work and take it to the next stage,” she said. “We’re thrilled to be supporting this design program and nurturing emerging design in a very practical way.”

The Coralescence lamps from the Tide Pool series by Suzy Syme and Andrew Costa had strong commercial applications, the judges said.
The Mass lamp by Dirk Du Toit is crafted from FSC-certified oak or walnut.

Two finalists were also awarded ‘highly commended’ by the judges — Mass lamp by Dirk Du Toit and the Coralescence lights from Suzy Syme and Andrew Costa at Tide Pool Designs. The judges agreed both products were beautifully resolved from a design perspective, as well as having strong commercial applications in residential and hospitality design. 

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This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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