Car companies are sneakily selling your driving data

Car companies are tracking drivers’ data and selling it to third-party data brokers — leaving their customers to suffer the consequences.

Hans Isaacson |

Take Action

A new investigation found that GM, Honda, Kia, Subaru, Hyundai and Mitsubishi are tracking drivers’ data on everything from when they drive to how hard they hit their brakes.

At least they’re guarding that data and only using it to make their cars safer, right?


Right now, some of the biggest car companies are tracking millions of drivers’ data, sneakily selling it to third-party brokers, and leaving their customers to suffer the consequences.

The consequences we’ve seen so far are scary, such as insurance companies jacking up rates with no explanation. But the secretive wheeling and dealing of consumers’ personal data means that there’s a world of data breaches, identity theft and targeted scams right around the corner.

What information does your car computer track?

Cars and their connected apps know a lot about their drivers. They know how far you go, the start and end time of your trips, how hard you brake, how quickly you accelerate — and they may be tracking that information without drivers’ knowledge. 

One data broker has detailed driving data on more than 10 million drivers

Overnight and without explanation, one of these drivers found that his insurance had spiked by 21%. Why? Because GM had sold his driving data to a third-party broker, which compiled 130 pages of his driving behavior and sold it to his insurance company.

What does it mean when a company sells your data?

After automakers collect the data, third-party brokers sell that data to other companies — in this case, insurance companies — that use it against consumers without them knowing it.

The consequences could span far beyond insurance rates, though. With every secret handoff from data broker to buyer, we’re more at risk for data breaches, identity theft or targeted scams.

Your data includes personal information about you, your habits, behavior and preferences. If that information — your identity — gets into the wrong hands, it can be used against you.

How do I opt out of car data collection?

Unfortunately, much of the data-collecting technology that your vehicle uses can’t be opted out of. Most new cars today will have some type of location-tracking technology included.

Consumers shouldn’t have to worry that their car’s computers or connected apps are sharing their data with other entities. It’s time for car companies to reverse course by committing to not sharing or selling consumer data for anything other than what consumers are expecting — a functional car and safe driving experience.

Sign our petition to tell automakers to stop sharing your data.


R.J. Cross

Director, Don't Sell My Data Campaign, PIRG

R.J. focuses on data privacy issues and the commercialization of personal data in the digital age. Her work ranges from consumer harms like scams and data breaches, to manipulative targeted advertising, to keeping kids safe online. In her work at Frontier Group, she has authored research reports on government transparency, consumer debt and predatory auto lending, and has testified before Congress. Her work has appeared in WIRED magazine, CBS Mornings and USA Today, among other outlets. When she’s not protecting the public interest, she is an avid reader, fiction writer and birder. Though she lives in Boston, she will always consider herself a Kansan at heart.