The legal issues behind the modern, connected car


Modern “connected cars” now have a range of legal implications due to their ever-expanding services. Connected cars now offer a wide range of services to their owners, including connecting cars to date services that offer enhanced safety and convenience as well as entertainment options. However, a lot of the data is personal and sensitive in nature and may need privacy protection.

Smart devices in cars

Many modern cars now have a range of ‘smart’ devices that are connected to customer data such as the car’s location and the driver’s travel habits using GPS. These cars can also log any contacts and communications from in-built phones and any information that is contained in internal computer systems. It is estimated that connected car services will grow to over $14 billion by 2020 as consumers demand more personalized devices in their cars. Today, cars are becoming more and more like computers or smart phones when it comes to interactive technology.

Changing legal landscape and technology

As we have more and more personalized services and in-car features, the question of legality and privacy laws comes into play. When it comes to technology, the legal landscape must change quickly and effectively to keep up with technological advances and consumer privacy.

Current legal restrictions in this sector

The privacy of car owners has been taken care of by automakers in the US. Most of the leading automakers voluntarily agreed to a set of privacy and date security measures that will regulate how automakers share or use information. These principles come under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commissions Act, which requires companies to fulfill their publically stated polices and practices. This is a very important step forward for privacy within the connected modern car and offers a baseline protection that automakers can then build upon. Companies must offer customers very clear guidelines on how they will use customer information, which should be stated on their website. They must collect consumer consent before using any information they have acquired via the smart technology.

The legal aspects of technology advancement

As tech becomes more and more advanced, the legal implications become more complex. Automakers understand that in order to get consumers to trust them, buy their products and accept new technologies, they must first put into place a clear set of guidelines when it comes to their personal information. A clear set of standards must be put into place from the start so that as more technology becomes standard, a clear and defined set of legal regulations will be in place so that consumers are able to embrace new technology without losing their data protection

Technology in the automotive industry continues to grow at an incredible rate; Bob Bratt, DLA Piper’s Chief Operating Officer, has over 30 years of experience managing a wide range of legal programs within the US. He plays a large role in integrating international operations, including technology and privacy laws, and can offer expert legal advice.

Without clear government sanctioned privacy laws, automakers must work together to keep on top of connected cars and the legal implications involved.