Yes, Your Car Is Spying on You and the Data Is Being Sold


I drive an older car--a Lexus LS430 from 2005, so I can rest assured of two things: an amazingly comfortable ride and that the tech in my vehicle is way too old to collect data to be sold online. 


You, however, may not be so lucky. Some late-model cars are secretly collecting data on your driving habits, and selling the results for profit. 

Not only is this practice super creepy, but it could be costing you money and, if what I suspect is the case, giving the government a window into your behavior. 

Drivers of cars manufactured by General Motors, Honda and other popular brands say that their insurance rates went up after the companies sent data about their driving behavior to issuers without their knowledge.

Kenn Dahl, 65, is a Seattle-area businessman who told The New York Times that his car insurance costs soared by 21% in 2022 after GM’s OnStar Smart Driver computerized system installed in his Chevy Bolt collected information about the particulars of his driving habits.

Dahl said that his insurance agent told him the price increase was based on data collected by LexisNexis, which compiled a report tracking each and every time he and his wife drove their Chevy Bolt over a six-month period.

Yikes! Did you catch that? The data was sold to LexisNexis, and they turned around and sold it again to the insurance companies, and no doubt might be doing the same to other interested in parties. 


Parties like, I would bet, the government. I would be very interested to know if purchasing this information in any way violates the 4th Amendment. And, if it does, could the government collect the data and then search for it if they decide they want to?

The LexisNexis report indicated that the details it had cobbled together were gleaned from the OnStar Smart Driver, the GM-owned subscription service that records driver information such as total miles driven, hard braking incident and other aspects of driver behavior.

According to its web site, OnStar Smart Driver “provides driving insights on how you can become a smarter, safer driver” while enabling users to “earn badges by completing challenges, build on streaks specific to different driving habits and view all your data in an intuitive dashboard.”

This service is being sold to you as a nice extra, but exists as all such things do to be a profit center for the company, and information ABOUT you may turn out to be more profitable than what you are paying yourself. And of course the car is able to collect and beam this information out even if you don't subscribe to the service, ensuring that your value as a product to others provides a revenue stream for the company beyond what you paid for the car. 


GM, whose portfolio of brands includes Chevy, GMC, Cadillac and Buick, isn’t the only car company that is gathering data through internet connectivity and then providing it to insurance companies.

Subaru, Mitsubishi, Honda, Kia and Hyundai also offer drivers the option of turning on similar features without them being aware that the data is being sold to brokers similar to LexisNexis.

My fear is that selling this information to insurance companies is just the tip of the iceberg. Connecting one's car to the cloud enables a whole new level of surveillance by God knows whom. And in some cases, you have no idea it is happening

Automakers and data brokers that have partnered to collect detailed driving data from millions of Americans say they have drivers’ permission to do so. But the existence of these partnerships is nearly invisible to drivers, whose consent is obtained in fine print and murky privacy policies that few read.

Especially troubling is that some drivers with vehicles made by G.M. say they were tracked even when they did not turn on the feature — called OnStar Smart Driver — and that their insurance rates went up as a result.

I suspect that there are massive databanks in the Cloud that are accessible to people with whom you may not wish to share your every move. 


I take that back. I am certain that this is the case. And given the history the FBI has of supposedly secure databases with information that is only to be searched under very limited circumstances being wide open to every curious agent, I trust these people not one bit. 

Nor should you. 

I am still very happy with my 19-year-old Lexus. It is comfortable, has a big engine, and gets about as good gas mileage as a land yacht can (28-30 on the highway, which is great for a V-8). I also added Bluetooth. What's not to love?

Of course, I am kidding myself when I think I am safe from this sort of spying. I have a smartphone. It is probably listening to my every word and saying it to Google. If OnStar can generate a 258-page report on some guy's driving habits, who knows what Google has on me.

But I can dream, can't I?

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