I've often wondered if there is some secret, hidden office out there tracking my every click via the Internet. Facebook already knows I love cars and video games and you can even “check in” at different places now. What else does the Internet know?
An article in Automotive News suggests that corporations could use the Internet connectivity of EV's (and other cars) to keep tabs on its customers. George Orwell, eat your heart out.
It is no secret that automakers are loading up cars and trucks with all sorts of technology to help people stay “connected.” Ford's SYNC is probably the best example, as not only does it act as a phone and MP3 player, but soon it will provide traffic on the fly and tell you where the nearest Chinese restaurants are. All of this requires, of course, the Internet.
The article in Automotive News, penned by Hans Greimel, goes on to talk about how plugging your electric vehicle into a charging station would be another method for companies to keep tabs on you. The car, of course, will be plugged into the Internet and be able to let you know where the nearest charging station is. Records of your location could then be used in lawsuits and criminal cases. Oh, you say you were at the grocery store on the night of the 15th picking up ice cream for the kids? Well then why was your car at your mistress's house?
Yes, I could see this happening, and it is in fact already happening with Facebook. Marriages and careers have been ended by “oversharing.” This isn't a problem that will be only for EV's though. As GPS devices become standard equipment (really people, use a map), it doesn't matter what kind of motor runs your car; there will be eyes on you.
Companies promise not to overshare your personal information, and yet there are whole companies out there dedicated to untangling the shopping habits of consumers. A whole new cottage industry could spring up deciphering our driving habits. There are already “black boxes” installed on many automobiles that record anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes of your driving behavior. Toyota used black boxes to determine that many “runaway” Prius accidents were just driver error instead.
This information doesn't have to be used for evil purposes though. Much of this data can be used to improve traffic flow, coordinate traffic lights, and improve local infrastructure. It could even be used to save us money and fuel and make our cars operate more efficiently.
Still though, the days of hiding your driving habits are quickly coming to an end, though it has less to do with electric vehicles and more to do with technology as a whole. The more connected we, as a people, become, the more connected our cars must become. If you are really worried about your privacy, better buy an old car instead. Otherwise, kiss your privacy goodbye, no matter what kind of car you drive.
Source: Automotive News
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to Hemis. You can follow his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout.