Connected Car Cybersecurity: Driving Hard for Privacy and Security


Federal regulators are working hard to fight cybersecurity and privacy threats from vehicles with systems that connect to the internet. The Federal Trade Commission, the U.S.’s primary privacy and data security regulatory agency, is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to address threats to consumers from connected cars. The FTC and the NHTSA will hold a June 28 workshop to bring together a wide range of stakeholders, including industry representatives, consumer advocates, government regulators and academics to discuss privacy and security issues raised by connected vehicles.

In the 1990s, the most technically advanced component in many cars was an audio cassette tape deck. Fast forward to 2017, many cars have a touchscreen entertainment to stream music, make restaurant reservations, buy movie tickets and even check sport scores. Forget horsepower and torque, it’s all about Wi-Fi and apps now.

Connected cars are part of the internet of things—a network of physical objects equipped with technology that enables them to connect via the web to other products or services to collect and transfer data. Industry professionals and government officials have said that connected cars present prime opportunities to “revolutionize mobility” but they also stand out as prominent targets for hackers. 

The FTC and NHTSA workshop will examine the types of information collected by connected cars, the pros and cons of data collection, privacy and security practices of car makers, self-regulatory standards and the role of government agencies in regulating connected vehicles. 

In January, Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) introduced the Security and Privacy in Your Car Study Act (SPY Car Study Act) that seeks to ensure that cybersecurity for connected vehicles keeps pace with the technological advances. In separate video interviews with Bloomberg BNA, Wilson and Lieu discussed how the SPY Car Study Act would help consumers.

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