Recently a number of lawsuits have been filed alleging automobile manufacturers are not only downloading and storing data when your cell phone connects to your car’s infotainment system; but are making your data available to 3rd parties and law enforcement.
The lawsuits allege Honda, Ford and other manufacturers download and permanently store the call history as well as complete text messages and other personal information without a car owner’s consent. Furthermore the lawsuits allege the car manufacturers are using this data for their own marketing, are selling key word searches to 3rd party businesses, and are making your data available to law enforcement without the need for customary warrants or court orders.
In one such class action, Stacy Ritch, et al v. American Honda Motor Co., the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled auto manufacturers downloading personal information off your phone is legal and have dismissed the plaintiff’s case.
The plaintiff’s lawyers argued auto manufacturers are violating the WPA (Washington Privacy Act), as downloading and storing this data is “intercepting and recording” a driver’s private communications. The Ninth Circuit found that the plaintiff’s case did not satisfy the WPA’s statutory injury requirement which stipulates that injury to one’s business or personal reputation must occur.
Although various lawsuits are currently in the courts against various car manufacturer’s, the basic set of facts and background in each case are similar.