With momentum behind the connected car gathering across the globe, we’re looking at one of the most discussed topics : the data generated by connected cars, and more specifically who should own it.

Connected cars come equipped with sensors, GPS and communication devices that can collect, store and send data on a driver’s behaviors and habits, as well as monitoring the vehicle’s health. Connected car systems available today can help before or after a breakdown, help the emergency services rescue people after a crash, tailor commercial offers related to a trip or warn of a car’s maintenance needs.

While existing laws relating to data protection for consumers do exist, the landscape has changed dramatically since these came into force across Europe in the early 1990’s. And it’s with this in mind that the FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, a global automotive body representing 111 motoring clubs and over 38m members) have launched their My Car My Data campaign, aimed at safeguarding driver’s behavioural data and pressing for new protection and freedom of choice.

They believe that having access to mobility habits for vehicle manufacturers and other trade bodies should only happen with the driver’s full consent, where the driver is the one deciding if any data is shared, and with whom. With such a rich source of new data about a car’s status, the number of passengers and its driving pattern which could enable companies to offer personalised services, there is a big rush now to control this data and many vehicle manufacturers, who control this data at present, aim to become the service provider for all car-related needs.

The FIA believe that any data collected should remain the property of the driver. Drivers operating connected cars should retain ownership of of the data that their car produces and control over how it is used for the lifetime of their ownership of the car.

UK Drivers agree…

The views of the FIA on transparency, updated legislation and protection for drivers are being echoed by drivers in the UK and across Europe.

In a recent survey conducted by the FIA of over 12,000 respondents in 12 countries, 90% of drivers said that they, and not manufacturers should own their data.

According to the AA, when asked ‘who is the owner of the data your car generates?’, UK drivers responded…

71% : The Car Owner

46% : The Car Driver

7% : The Car Manufacturer

So the public have spoken pretty clearly and the majority would want to retain ownership of any data generated by their connected car. In fact, across Europe, 95% wanted legislation to protect their data generated from connected cars. Concerns about data hacking (85%), commercial use of the data (86%) and location tracking (70%) topped the list in the survey.

In addition, when owning a connected car…

91% want the ability to switch connectivity on or off

76% want to decide when and for how long to share data

78% want to choose who will repair their car

It’s not all doom and gloom though

The FIA’s research showed a genuine interest in connected cars for 76% of respondents. 6% said that their car was connected already, 18% that their next car would be connected and 52% that they were interested in them. Increased safety was the number one reason for buying one (56%) with fuel efficiency (48%) and avoiding congestion (39%) also popular.

The level of data collected and transmitted from a connected car in recent technical tests can bring huge benefits to drivers, let’s not forget, from parking locations to engine usage to mobile phone synchronisation. When shown the benefits of connected car technology, drivers’ trust was reinforced and suspicions eased, with 88% willing to share vehicle information in the event of a breakdown.

What next?

Well it’s clear there’s mixed emotions when it comes to the topic of connected cars. The next steps in establishing who owns the data are critical, and hopefully the pressure from a body like the FIA that represents over 38 million drivers worldwide will push this emotive subject high on the agenda for new legislation…we’ll keep you posted!