Guidelines 1/2020 on processing personal data in the context of connected vehicles and mobility related applications
SECTION 1 INTRODUCTION
1. Symbol of the 20th century economy, the automobile is one of the mass consumer products that has impacted society as a whole. Commonly associated with the notion of freedom, cars are often considered as more than just a mean of transportation. Indeed, they represent a private area in which people can enjoy a form of autonomy of decision, without encountering any external interferences. Today, as connected vehicles move into the mainstream, such avision no longer corresponds to the reality. In-vehicle connectivity is rapidly expanding from luxury models and premium brands to high-volume midmarket models, and vehicles are becoming massive data hubs. Not only vehicles, but drivers and passengers are also becoming more and more connected. As a matter of fact, many models launched over the past few years on the market integrate sensors and connected onboard equipment, which may collect and record, among other things, the engine performance, the driving habits, the locations visited, and potentially even the driver’s eye movements, his or her pulse, or other biometric data for authentication or identification purposes.
2. Such data processing is taking place in a complex ecosystem, which is not limited to the traditional players of the automotive industry, but is also shaped by the emergence of new players belonging to the digital economy. These new players may offer infotainment services such as online music, road condition and traffic information, or provide driving assistance systems and services, such as autopilot software, vehicle condition updates, usage-based insurance or dynamic mapping. Moreover, since vehicles are connected via electronic communication networks, road infrastructure managers and telecommunications operators involved in this process also play an important role with respect to the potential processing operations applied to the drivers’ and passengers’ personal data.
3. In addition, connected vehicles are generating increasing amounts of data, most of which can be considered personal data since they will relate to drivers or passengers. Even if the data collected by a connected car are not directly linked to a name, but to technical aspects and features of the vehicle, it will concern the driver or the passengers of the car. As an illustration, data relating to the driving style or the distance covered, data relating to the wear and tear on vehicle parts or data collected by cameras may concern driver behavior as well as information about other people who could be inside or outside the vehicle.
4. In 2016, the Fédération Internationale de l’ Automobile (FIA) ran a campaign across Europe called “My Car My Data” to get a sentiment on what Europeans think about connected cars. While it showed the high interest of drivers for connectivity, it also highlighted the vigilance that must be exercised with regard to the use of the data produced by vehicles as well as the importance of complying with personal data protection legislation. Thus, the challenge is, for each stakeholder, to incorporate the “protection of personal data” dimension from the product design phase, and to ensure that car users enjoy transparency and control in relation to their data. Such an approach helps to strengthen user confidence, and thus the long-term development of those technologies.