New Tool Shows if Your Car Might Be Tracking You, Selling Your Data

The free tool from Privacy4Cars provides some insight on whether your vehicle is collecting and sharing location and other types of data.
Image: DiMaggio/Kalish
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A new tool that is free to use for consumers aims to better inform people about the types of data their particular car manufacturer might be collecting and sharing about their identity and driving patterns.

The Vehicle Privacy Report tool, made by automotive privacy company Privacy4Cars, is based on a manual and automatic analysis of car manufacturers’ data collection policies. Users enter their vehicle identification number (VIN), and the tool provides information based on those policies.


“People never really thought about their car as an electronic device,” Andrea Amico, the founder of Privacy4Cars, told Motherboard. The Vehicle Privacy Report tool, Amico hopes, will lift the “giant fog” about data collection in the automotive industry.

Do you know anything else about cars and data selling? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, or email

Motherboard has previously covered the various parts of the vehicle data collection business. One company called Otonomo sells granular location data of peoples’ vehicles. In another case, a surveillance contractor that has sold services to the U.S. military had aspirations to sell similar information to government customers.

After entering their VIN, the Vehicle Privacy Report tool says the types of data it believes the car manufacturer collects. This includes identifiers, location data, biometrics, and data synced from mobile phones. The tool also lists the sorts of entities the manufacturer may share or sell data to, such as insurance companies, data brokers, or the government. (It is expected behavior for companies to share collected data with law enforcement under a valid court order or similar). 


A sample report published by Privacy4Cars. Image: Privacy4Cars.

The tool will also say if the vehicle has telematics, which is when a car has its own cellular data plan separate from the driver’s smartphone. For cars with telematics, the tool describes them as a “smartphone on wheels.” For those without, the tool says they are like a “hard-drive on wheels.” 

One way Privacy4Cars makes money is by selling tools to help dealerships remove data from vehicles. For this new project, the company plans to license the technology to dealerships who may wish to show consumers what data a vehicle collects on their own website, Amico said.

Motherboard used the tool to lookup information on a Mazda vehicle. The tool said Mazda collects identifiers, location data, and user profiles. Mazda acknowledged a request for comment but did not provide a response in time for publication.

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