Is Your Car Being Spied On?


With all of the recent revelations about phone hacking and government surveillance it is perfectly understandable that you feel a bit paranoid. Maybe you’ve taken some extra security precautions with your online work. Maybe you’ve started to pay for some more advanced security services at work. But I bet you haven’t thought about the fact that businesses or individuals may be spying on your car.

This might sound preposterous. But there are a lot of reasons that businesses and individuals may do this. They might hope to learn more about your behaviour as a consumer. They might like to understand patterns in your behaviour as a driver. All of this information can be hugely valuable to those in the automotive industry. It is essentially entirely candid market research, which can be used to improve their products in the future.

But how can you tell if it’s happening? And how can you stop it if you have that feeling of being watched? Here’s how you can begin to take your personal security more seriously whilst behind the wheel.

Read through any contract you sign before buying a new car. If a car manufacturer is hoping to use computers installed in your car to record your behaviour, then it is likely that they need your permission to do so. When you sign a contract you are often signing away your life on issues such as this. Make sure that you read the whole thing, and understand any clauses concerned with the privacy rights that you may have with your new car. Keep an eye out for any parts that discuss their right to store information on you, even if it is so-called metadata.


You should also be wary of using devices such as sat-navs, especially if they are built into the car. There is some evidence that surveillance schemes use the data harvested from such sources to gather a greater understanding of your behaviour. If you are worried about the manufacturer, once again you should be checking the contract that you sign.

If it’s the government that you’re worried about, then you may have a bit more of a problem. Try reading around the likelihood of it happening to you. If you’re really that concerned you might consider keeping the whole affair low tech with a second-hand car from carbase.biz.

Image source: The Car Spy / Flickr - Licensed for reuse under Creative Commons 2.0
If you are concerned particularly about your GPS then you should be looking to buy one separately from the car. An inbuilt sat nav will always give anyone watching an idea of where you are. But if you buy one separately then there is no way of knowing who is using it and for what. This may also be advantageous as it will keep you up to date with the latest navigation software.

Overall the most scary part of this idea is that you may not know you are being watched. The best advice, though, is to know your rights as a consumer and a citizen, and to read any contract thoroughly before signing any of these rights away.

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At Motor Heads we appreciate every opinion! except SPAM! Comments are moderated, so if you want to link to your motoring site please ensure its relevant to the conversation, otherwise your comment will be removed.

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