Data Capture From Vehicles Raises Data Protection Concerns

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Proposals for sensors in cars to be used as an automatic reporting mechanism for potholes have raised questions about data protection and privacy which apply to a range of technologies.

This manifestation of the Internet of Things ties together the road surface sensors in many vehicles with GPS data to produce information on the location of rough patches experienced by vehicles. The idea is to collate the reports, compare them to road maps and notify the responsible local authorities of the sections of road most likely to need repairs.

Concerns raised included the potential for the location of vehicles being monitored or recorded through the data being transmitted. Promoters of the technology say that the application would be established on an opt-in basis so that nobody who did not want their vehicle to transmit any data would not find that happening automatically. The other response to these concerns has been that the data would not contain anything identifying the vehicles and therefore the likely drivers.

The same issues arise in applying the Data Protection Act’s 8 principles to any tracking technology and finding an appropriate balance between monitoring useful data and unnecessary intrusion into people’s private lives. Any data controller must give careful through to the extent and type of information being captured, the use to which it can be put and the degree of access to it within the organisation.

While it is wholly in order to have live tracking on secure vehicles in transit, it might be a lot less explicable to have 24-hour monitoring of the location of mobile phones issued to staff which have not been reported as stolen. The issue there is the degree of personal data that would be captured for which there would be little legitimate use.

Forbes can provide advice and assistance on the appropriate use of technology within the requirements of the Data Protection Act and the associated employment issues that should be addressed. Contact Daniel Milnes via our contact page for further information.

Daniel Milnes

About Daniel Milnes

Dan is a Partner and Head of Contracts & Projects. Dan’s blogs cover the areas in which his specialities lie in commercial, regulatory and governance law which cover a broad range of matters dealing with contracts, projects, corporate and group structures, funding and compliance with a range of legal regimes including data protection. This also involves writing and advising on various forms of commercial contracts including joint ventures, development and construction agreements and intellectual property contracts including IT agreements, sponsorships and other rights licensing arrangements.
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