Committee clears Rooney bill tackling growing privacy concerns as more cars collect driver data

Committee clears Rooney bill tackling growing privacy concerns as more cars collect driver data

Kevin J. Rooney

TRENTON, N.J. – New cars equipped with WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS and other technology can collect information from a driver’s favorite podcast to the most frequented fast-food drive-throughs. The Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee on Thursday took the first step to address growing privacy concerns in the car industry by advancing a measure sponsored by Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney.

“Most modern cars come with all the bells and whistles, which include computer systems that collect and transmit data. As soon as you connect your smartphone to the console, that information is uploaded, too. People wouldn’t think to sell their used cell phone without wiping it clean, but that is essentially what they are doing when their lease ends or they trade in their cars,” Rooney (R-Bergen) said.

Rooney’s bill (A4723) requires dealerships to offer to delete personal information from a motor vehicle computer system and then remove the data prior to reselling or leasing the car.

“A driver’s location history, phone records, passcodes and other sensitive information can be downloaded from the car’s computer system and puts a person at risk for identity theft. Electric vehicles, like the governor is pushing, are built with operating systems that make them particularly susceptible to data breaches,” Rooney explained. “This creates potential hazards for unknowing drivers who do not realize their data is still stored or could subsequently fall into the wrong hands.”

One technology company estimates that 88% of used cars for sale retain the previous owners’ data.

“The onus should be on the dealership to make the driver aware the data is recorded and then offer to delete it, because most people aren’t even aware their information is being stored,” Rooney said. “My bill prioritizes protecting New Jersey drivers’ privacy. One extra step taken by dealerships can prevent countless data breaches and violations of privacy for drivers and riders across the Garden State.”