January 11, 2014


As automakers tap smartphone technology, concerns grow about use of drivers' data (Cecilia Kang and Michael Fletcher, January 9, 2014, Washington Post)

A tablet, running Google's Android operating system, will pop out of the dashboard. The device can be passed around so passengers can find YouTube clips and order songs and audio books from the Google Play store for the car's entertainment system.

Prefer Dunkin' Donuts over Starbucks? Google may be able to decipher that by driving behavior and deliver the appropriate ads to an e-mail account or smartphone.

Audi executives said they view the relationship with Google as crucial to the automaker's future. Customers listed technology as the second-most important criteria in buying Audi vehicles last year.

The executives added that Google, not the automaker, would control any personal data generated by the car. And, they said, the information would be stored in servers, not the actual vehicles, to safeguard the data in case the car is stolen or sold.

Google declined to answer specific questions about how it would use geographic and other data about drivers and how that eventually could be used in advertising.

"This week we announced a joint effort between automobile and technology companies to bring Android into vehicles in a safe and seamless way," Christopher Katsaros, a spokesman for Google, said in a statement. "We don't have specific plans to share just yet but, as with any product at Google, we're focused on the privacy and security of our users' information."

Privacy experts said Google has much to gain from tracking the way people drive. Smartphones can be turned off. And Google has limited access to what users of iPhones are doing. But a car running Google's Android system could feed data constantly to the search giant.

Already, tens of millions of cars are outfitted with "black boxes" that continuously record data such as a vehicle's speed, acceleration and seat-belt use. But the amount of information cars will produce by simply motoring down the street will grow exponentially as they become more integrated into the Web.

As Google is getting something of value from you, they need to pay you.

Posted by at January 11, 2014 8:11 AM

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