Earlier this week, we took a question on our IoT Podcast Hotline from Derrick, who has a teen driver and wanted to know more about connected vehicle options to monitor driving. Aside from what those options are, Derrick was curious about the privacy implications as well.
If you’re not familiar with these vehicle tracking devices, they typically plug directly into a car through an OBD, or onboard diagnostics port, and reads data from the car. Additionally, they almost always have a GPS receiver and cellular connection for real-time reporting and location information to a companion app. Often they add vehicle service alerts, emergency calls in case of an accident, and Wi-Fi hotspots too.
Derrick mentions two options he’s aware of: Zubie and Sprint Drive. Others would include Verizon Hum, AT&T’s Harman Spark, and T-Mobile’s SyncUp Drive just to name a few and round out the carrier options. Automatic is another choice that we mention as well. The Wirecutter has tested many of these so check them out for reviews.
Clearly, with a cellular connection and GPS radio to provide location and driving speed data, you are giving up some privacy. But as Derrick notes, his phone carrier is already getting much of that information as well, so they aren’t gaining too much additional private data. The one exception is detailed information about your car, of course. However, that can actually be a bit of an advantage in some cases. Many auto insurance companies provide discounts if you allow them to see that data for a limited amount of time. Regardless, it’s a good idea to read the terms of service for any of these products to see what the company does with any of the data.
The choice of using any connected device that allows a company to have access to your data is a personal one. In this case, keeping tabs on and ensuring a new driver is safe is one that I’d be OK with. Derrick will have to make his own choice, as would you, but if you — or your teen driver — is already carrying smartphone all the time, connecting your car isn’t that much of a leap when it comes to privacy.
To hear Derrick’s question in full, as well as our discussion on the topic, tune in to this week’s IoT Podcast episode below.