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

Jun 25, 2012, 13:55 ET from Consumer Watchdog

What: Consumer Watchdog discusses opposition to SB 1298, Google driverless car legislation before Monday's Assembly Transportation Committee Hearing

Who: John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project Director

When: 1:20 p.m. PDT, TODAY Monday, June 25 (Transportation Committee meeting begins at 1:30 p.m.)

Where: Outside State Capitol, Room 4202, Sacramento, CA

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 25, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- 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."

Read Consumer Watchdog's letter here:

"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."

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SOURCE Consumer Watchdog