Saturday, September 30, 2023


Psst! Your car may be invading your privacy!

There was a popular bumper sticker that advised what not to do, “When this rig’s rocking, ….” If you have a modern, technologically advanced car or pickup, have you read the fine print in the paperwork? For example, if you own a Nissan, the company says it may collect information on your “sexual activity,” while Kia puts it more delicately, suggesting it may know about your “sex life.” Yes, your rig may indeed be invading your privacy.

Your car knows—and shares—your personal information

invading your privacyEven if you feel you’re long since past trysts in the back seat, there’s a lot more your car or truck may know—and share about you. Think for just a minute. Many of today’s modern technology cars are equipped with cameras—not just on the back bumper, but inside too. And microphones? Do they conveniently shut themselves off, and only turn on to hear a voice command? And while your parents may have demanded to know where you’ve been in the old ’57 Chevy, that 2022 GMC may already know it—and be telling corporate just where that was.

These terrifying ideas of how our vehicles could be ratting us out come from a report released earlier this month by the Mozilla Foundation. The study group looked at 25 car brands which utilize technology common in recent production years. Their conclusion? “All 25 car brands we researched earned our *Privacy Not Included warning label — making cars the official worst category of products for privacy that we have ever reviewed.”

What do they do with that information?

How are these vehicles invading your privacy? All 25 brands played loose and fast with the amount of personal data their systems collected. While some information does need to be collected to appropriately operate car systems, each maker “collects more personal data than necessary and uses that information for a reason other than to operate your vehicle and manage their relationship with you.” What kind of information? How you and your car interact. What “connected services” you use, and even touch bases with your phone. And they can also get information about you from other sources. Think of what you’ve looked up on Google Maps, or listened to on satellite radio.

When it comes to invading your privacy, would you like to share things like where you drive, and how fast you get there? We already mentioned that some companies collect information related to how your car might be used for sex. Some even can collect genetic information.

Your information—given away or sold

invading your privacyIf it’s not bad enough to have that information wrested away from you, what gets done with that info is where things get scarier. There’s no doubt that car companies want you to buy more of their products, so their own internal marketing comes into play. But here’s a facer from the report: “Most (84%) of the car brands we researched say they can share your personal data—with service providers, data brokers, and other businesses we know little or nothing about.” More than three-quarters of car makers say they’ll sell your personal information. One other concern—more than half will give away your personal data to law enforcement, simply on request. Re-read that. “On request.” Not, “under court order,” but simply by an informal request.

Is there any way to work against your car invading your privacy? Well, if you own a Renault or Dacia, you can request your personal data be wiped out. But that’s only two out of 25 car makers—oddly, both market in Europe where privacy standards meet a high bar. If you own any of the other 23 brands, you’re up the creek.

And what about hackers?

If it weren’t bad enough having your personal information freely available to your car maker, and whoever they share (or sell) it with, the Mozilla researchers also made some other concerning finds. The report reads, “Even though the car brands we researched each had several long-winded privacy policies (Toyota wins with 12), we couldn’t find confirmation that any of the brands meet our Minimum Security Standards.”

Translated: Do any of these cars encrypt your private data? Don’t know. When Mozilla’s team contacted the makers for clarification, most didn’t even respond. Three did respond—sort of. Ford, Honda, and Mercedes-Benz replied, but didn’t give complete answers. The team dug deeper, and went back over three years worth of data and found nearly 70% of brands had suffered hacking, leaks, and other breaches that could have meant a loss of car owner privacy.

Individual brand information—all the fine print and more

Since you can’t, for the most part, get car makers to delete your personal information, there are a few things you can do to at least try to stem the outward flow of information. Mozilla’s researchers have included steps for each vehicle brand in their brand-by-brand evaluation. It’s an interesting read—you’ll be able to learn just how your brand is invading your privacy. Here are links to that information.


At least this one doesn’t invade your privacy

Bottom line: If your car or truck is equipped with technology, it’s pretty likely it’s invading your privacy. It may be that the only safe drive down the highway today is with a horse and buggy. Just make sure it isn’t a Trojan horse.


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.


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20 days ago

Good thing we didn’t have this technology when I was a teenager, they would have some stories to tell

20 days ago

And here’s just another good reason to stick with older vehicles. Our 2000 F 350 S/D dually with the good old 7.3 has none of that electronically monitored crap in it. Also no DEF and no regen on the engine. Ditto our 2003 Saab 9/3 convertible, just a disconnected On Star unit.

21 days ago

I wrap my car and my rv in aluminum foil.

Diane McGovern
21 days ago
Reply to  Carlos

Before you get in them or after you get in them?🤣 Have a good afternoon/evening, Carlos. 😀 –Diane at

21 days ago

Our 2014 Ford Expedition has GPS capability and Ford can locate the car. Why then couldn’t they have unlocked it when we accidentally left the keys inside? I really like the GM feature “ON STAR”!

21 days ago

Besides having a smartphone, I pad, or just a regular computer that can spy on us millions of people have invited Amazon Alexa devices into their homes to listen to every conversation!

21 days ago
Reply to  Joe

Time for agent 86, Maxwell Smart’s cone of silence. A joke in the 1960’s however more and more a reality today!

Primo Rudy's Roadhouse
21 days ago

but they can’t find a stolen car?

21 days ago

Marketing 101, know the customer base

21 days ago

Maybe it’s time to break out the aluminum foil and start rapping everything up in it. Remember, “A nation of sheep breeds a government of wolves”.

Mikal H
21 days ago

Guess George Orwell should have included Big Business in his book “1984.”

So…for every reader here who gasps in shock…how many have written or talked to their legislators demanding strong privacy laws be put in place to protect you?

Then again, when so many people are so used to immediately posting everything they do every minute on social websites, with pictures, does it even matter?

21 days ago

And, they can remotely turn your vehicle off and lock it in place. Plus, Ford can apparently remotely drive the car to a location of their choice.

21 days ago

Don’t all of these things happen with your phone too? We’re addicted and they know it!

21 days ago

Yikes! One more thing to lose sleep over. Thanks for your thorough research!

21 days ago

When we travel we put our phones and tablet, turned off, in a Farraday bag that doesn’t allow radio waves to get to them. When we stop we sometimes check our phones for messages, so we may be defeating the purpose of the bag. I wonder if they make one to fit our RV? Hopefully ours is old enough to not have the Big Brother App.

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