Carmakers have been collecting and keeping data about where drivers have been.
A US government watchdog has found that owners of those cars cannot demand that the information be destroyed.
The Government Accountability Office found major automakers have differing policies about how much data they collect and how long they keep it.
According to the Detroit News, the carmakers collect location data in order to provide drivers with real-time traffic information, to help find the nearest gas station or restaurant, and to provide emergency roadside assistance and stolen vehicle tracking.
Toyota, Honda and Nissan were at the centre of the investigation along with navigation system makers Garmin and TomTom and app developers Google Maps and Telenav.
The report found automakers had taken steps to protect privacy and were not selling personal data of owners, but said drivers are not aware of all risks.
Senator Al Franken said more work needed to be done to ensure privacy protections for in-car navigation systems and mapping apps. He plans to reintroduce his location privacy legislation sometime this year.
As cars get smarter, there is more than just navigation systems creating interesting data. Event data recorders, known as “black boxes,” store data in the event of crashes. Transponders like EZ-PASS transmit location and are used in some instances by law enforcement and for research. Some owners also agree to monitoring of driving habits to qualify for lower insurance rates or to keep tabs on teen drivers.
A contractor that works with three of the companies told the GAO that when a consumer requests services, information such as location, vehicle information number and other information may be kept for up to seven years.
Foxconn faced more drama this weekend with workers threatening to jump from the roof.
Employees threatened to take the action at the plant located in the central city of Wuhan, following protests over wages, just a month after Apple and Foxconn pledged to improve working conditions.
Foxconn’s Wuhan plant, which employs around 1.2 million workers, was at the centre of the protests, which, according to activist group Information Centre for Human Rights, involved
roughly 200 workers.
According to a spokesperson for Hon Hai, the protest concerned workplace adjustments and involved workers new to the plant. The spokesperson said that the dispute, however, had already been settled after some negotiations involving the human resources and legal departments as well as the local government.
According to Reuters, Hon Hai also said that no one had done as they had threatened and everyone resumed work once the police had got involved.
Criticism of the company from human rights groups isn’t exactly a new thing, with many activists protesting about the working conditions of employees.
In the past, Foxconn has tried to calm these groups and its employees by pledging more pay and better working conditions.
To ease the amount of suicides the company in the past has put up nets, enlisted monks and offered counselling.
Last week it also took a select number of employees on an all expenses paid jolly to Taiwan.
A select few of Chinese Foxconn staff have been given an all expenses paid trip around Taiwan.
The ‘lucky’ 216 employees from 17 provinces and 21 factories across China, will be treated to the seven day trip around the country and its landmarks courtesy of Foxconn.
According to the Taipei Times, the holiday is the brainchild of chairman Terry Gou who believes the break away will help help reduce worker stress and encourage high-performing workers.
Mr Gou’s thinking seems a huge step away to his previous work ethics. In the past he’s expressed provided some insight, including: “A harsh environment is a good thing”, “hungry people have especially clear minds”, and “work itself is a type of joy.”
More recently he was forced to apologise after he reportedly compared his workers to animals. We don’t know if the trip will include a visit to the zoo.
There have also been well publicised suicides at the company’s plants, which has caused outrage among worker rights charities. The responded by installing safety nets and offering counselling.