15 May 20

Data privacy: connected vehicles are not the same as smartphones

ACEA, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, says the guidelines on personal data relating to connected vehicles, drafted by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), are too broad in scope and not robust enough. ACEA asks the EDPB to postpone the publication of the guidelines until the content of the new ePrivacy Regulation is known with certainty.

The EDPB released connectivity guidelines on data protection are not only covering V2I (Vehicle to Infrastructure) and V2V (Vehicle to Vehicle) data communication flows, but also cover communications that occur within a vehicle, which does not make sense according to ACEA, nor is it consistent with national guidance in several EU-member states. Similarly, the guidelines should make clear that vehicle manufacturers become data ‘controllers’ or ‘processors’ only from the moment that data leaves the vehicle.

No right to delete all data
In addition, the EDPB’s understanding of what constitutes personal data does not accurately reflect the reality of how motor vehicles are used. “Motor vehicles are different from other products like smartphones in that they have multiple users and therefore multiple potential ‘data subjects’. Whether vehicle data can be considered personal data should be assessed in the context of data processing, considering the impact on the data subject in each case”, says Eric-Mark Huitema (pictured), ACEA Director General.

Concretely, some data subjects such as passengers or pedestrians seen by outward-facing cameras or sensors are not identifiable for vehicle manufacturers. Equally, some data such as average fuel consumption or average speed is technical data that is not related to a data subject, and therefore does not have any privacy impact.

This also means that the user of the vehicle should not have the right to delete all vehicle data, for example data relating to components or to the health status of the vehicle. That data is needed to ensure compliance with product safety and product liability law, to carry out repair and maintenance work and to conduct periodic technical inspections.

Picture copyright: ACEA, 2020.

Authored by: Steven Schoefs