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Pathetic Attempts by Auto Manufacturers to Distract from Consumers Rights Bill

magnifying-glassOur article from Steve Maviglio about SB 994 generated a request from the proponents of the legislation to provide their side of the story. We thought it would be a good idea to let you hear from both, so we are publishing their responses below.

EFF Statement on California Senate Bill 994

California State Sen. Monning (D-Carmel) has introduced legislation intended to protect Californians’ privacy rights behind the wheel. We have not yet completed our analysis of the bill, sponsored by the Automobile Association of America, but apparently a thorough analysis wasn’t required for the automotive industry to come out slinging FUD against it.

In a hyperbolic statement, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, an industry group representing 12 of the largest car makers in the world, immediately condemned the bill as an “unacceptable threat to motorist safety, privacy” and a “data grab” by the AAA.

The bill is no such thing.

While we have significant concerns about the bill in its current form, the new law is intended to do three things that should benefit consumers. First, it’s intended to provide clarity on what information your car is collecting on you and how that information will be used. Second, the bill would allow you access to your own car’s computer systems in a reasonable and non-discriminatory manner. And third, it would guarantee the ability of the third party service provider you choose to use that data for your benefit.

Contrary to the auto-industry group’s claim, the bill does not give any insurance company access to the data and does nothing to impair research into vehicle safety. Instead, the bill is intended to put the keys to your car’s data in your hands where they belong. Why is the industry so opposed to that?

You bought it, you own it; it’s your car and it’s your data. You, and you alone should control the systems in your car and the data they record and store.

Pathetic Attempts by Auto Manufacturers to Distract from Consumers Rights Bill
By Lindsey Nitta, spokesperson for the Your Car Your Data Coalition

Since the announcement of Senator Bill Monning’s legislation that ensures car owners have basic rights to access and control their personal data, the automakers have been in overdrive slinging mud at proven consumer and safety advocate, the Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA).  This mudslinging distracts from the issue, ultimately disadvantaging the consumer.

With six million members, the Automobile Club of Southern California is an organization with a decades-long history of advocating for their members and for all car consumers. So we find it ironic that the Auto Alliance with a long history of fighting consumers is attempting to personally trash the AAA and its board chair. It appears desperate, as they are clearly willing to do anything to distract legislators from the actual merits of the bill and the important issue of consumer choice and privacy.

Automakers Continue to Hide Safety Information

Just look at the headlines from last week alone. It is laughable that the Auto Alliance claims concern over motorists’ privacy and safety, especially as evidence mounts on what automakers hide from their customers.

  • “Toyota Motor lied to regulators, Congress and the public for years about the sudden acceleration of its vehicles, a deception that caused the world’s largest automaker on Wednesday to be hit with a $1.2 billion Justice Department fine.” Washington Post: Toyota reaches $1.2 billion settlement to end probe of accelerator problems, March 19, 2014
  • “…Toyota admitted that it deceived customers when it told them that it had fixed issues that caused its cars to accelerate unexpectedly. The carmaker knew as early as 2009 that defective “sticky” pedals could cause its vehicles to accelerate uncontrollably, but continued to tell the public the issue was only caused by “floor mat problems,” until 2010.” Wall Street Journal: The Morning Risk Report: Toyota’s Deception Drew Criminal Charge, March 20, 2014
  • “General Motors Co. engineering managers knew about ignition-switch problems on the 2005 Cobalt that could disable power steering, power brakes and air bags, but launched the car because they believed the vehicles could be safely coasted off the road after a stall, according to court documents.” Wall Street Journal: GM Managers Play Down Cobalt Stalls, March 24, 2014
  • “At a meeting on May 15, 2009, they learned that data in the black boxes of Chevrolet Cobalts confirmed a potentially fatal defect existed in hundreds of thousands of cars. But in the months and years that followed, as a trove of internal documents and studies mounted, G.M. told the families of accident victims and other customers that it did not have enough evidence of any defect in their cars, interviews, letters and legal documents show.” New York Times: “General Motors Misled Grieving Families on a Lethal Flaw,” March 25, 2014


Instead of these distractions, shouldn’t we focus on the merits of the bill? Shouldn’t we discuss the basic safeguards consumers should have to control their own data?

The Auto Alliance calls the bill “a data grab,” but really it’s the Auto Alliance that has been grabbing our personal information for years and holding on tight their monopoly.  But, this is our data.  Shouldn’t we have a say?

SB 994 simply gives the power to you, the consumer – not AAA, the Auto Alliance or any other entity. The Auto Alliance is desperate and using scary false claims, clearly willing to do anything but the right thing: giving consumers’ access to their own information.

One Comment

  1. Robert Lauten Robert Lauten March 31, 2014

    FIRST: there’s no such thing as “Your Data”.
    SECOND: “Big Brother” wants your car’s data.
    With your car’s GPS system insurance companies will know when and where you are speeding and for how long.
    With speeding data comes a ‘Safety Tax’ and an “Environment Tax’ (cars have worse MPG at 75 than they get at 65 miles per hour).
    Divorce Lawyers will know where your car is parked.
    Your auto mechanic should be the only person with access to your car’s data.

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