Press Release

Don’t Allow Google’s Driverless Cars On Our Highways Without Strong Privacy Protection, Consumer Watchdog Tells California Assembly Transportation Committee

CONTACT: , 310-292-1902

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 10:51 am

  • Share
Don’t Allow Google’s Driverless Cars On Our Highways Without Strong Privacy Protection, Consumer Watchdog Tells California Assembly Transportation Committee

SACRAMENTO, CA – Google’s driverless cars should not be allowed on our highways unless strong privacy protections for users of the new technology are implemented, Consumer Watchdog told the California Assembly’s Transportation Committee today.

The Committee holds a hearing today on SB 1298, the bill that would allow so-called autonomous cars, such as those being developed by Google, on the state’s highways.  Simply listing the data the robot cars will collect does not provide sufficient protection, said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project director.

In a letter to Assembly Transportation Committee Chair Bonnie Lowenthal, Simpson wrote:

“Google’s entire business model is based on building digital dossiers about our personal behavior and using them to sell the most personal advertising to us.  You’re not Google’s customer; you are its product – the one it sells to corporations willing to pay any price to reach you.  Will the driverless technology be just about getting us from point to point or about tracking how we got there and what we did along the way?

“SB 1298 must be amended to provide that driverless cars gather only the data necessary to operate the vehicle and retain that data only as long as necessary for their operation.  It should not be used for any additional purpose such as marketing or advertising without the consumer’s explicit opt-in consent.”

Click here to download and read Consumer Watchdog’s letter.

“Consumer Watchdog supports driverless car technology and predicts it will be commonplace sooner than many of us expect,” wrote Simpson. “However, it must not be allowed to become yet another way to track us in our daily lives.”

The letter concluded:

“The time to ensure that this new driverless car technology has the necessary privacy protections is while it is being designed and developed.   Trying to catch up after it is broadly implemented will simply not work. That is why I call on you to amend SB 1298 to require that consumers must give opt-in consent before any data gathered through driverless car technology is used for any purpose other than driving the vehicle.”

- 30 -

Visit our website at www.ConsumerWatchdog.org

Share
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

This post was written by:

John M. Simpson

- who has written 361 posts on Inside Google.

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

Contact the author

Leave a Reply