Car makers spying on car buyers: BMW, Renault, Mercedes revealed

June 7, 2016 | 00:00
Project leader Arnulf Thiemel and the cars examined for possible owner’s privacy leaks
Project leader Arnulf Thiemel and the cars examined for possible owner’s privacy leaks
German motor club ADAC has examined which data are sent, without you knowing, to the manufacturer by Mercedes-Benz B-series cars, the BMW 320d and i3, and the Renault Zoe. ADAC stresses that these are just examples. Worryingly, it’s not just the health status of many car systems, but also on the usage profile and driving behavior of the driver that may end up on the car manufacturer’s servers, and from there, in Wild West Cyberland.

ADAC found that the Merc B transmits seemingly innocent data like the vehicle’s mileage, fuel level, coolant level and tire pressure, at two-minute intervals. Also, how many times the seat belts have been tightened as the result of brisk braking. And it goes on: GPS position, the car’s mileage in city traffic, on country roads and on motorways, which might help the manufacturer to create a usage profile for the driver.

The hip Renault Zoe was found to “leak” such data as GPS position, temperature, and charge state of the traction battery, all though its CAN bus system, which can be turned on remotely. The governors at Renault apparently can even block charging the Zoe if you are behind with payments.

The Beamer makers in Bavaria collect data on wear and tear of parts mainly in the engine and transmission sections.

The ADAC in its web publication (in German) has demanded, among others, that car OEMs disclose a complete list of functions and parameters stored and that car owners and workshops get access to such a list.

Elektor Magazine has an OBD Shield for RPi on the publication schedule.
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