Don’t Sync Your Phone to Your Rental Car

As I have reported before, car manufacturers do not seem to care about whether the last owner still controls that used car that you just bought.  While the issue of previous owners still having the ability to locate, unlock and even remote start some cars, car makers don’t seem to be doing anything about it and likely won’t unless they are successfully sued or a law is passed forcing the issue.

In the mean time, you are on your own in understanding the implications of the security of that used car that you bought.

But it gets worse.

If you rent a car and you decide that you want to play your music over the car’s sound system or use it’s hands free calling, you sync your phone to the car.

The car now owns your data and unless and until you erase, it all of that data is still in the car when you return it to the rental car company.

That would include contacts and anything else the car’s infotainment system sucks in.

So what can you do?

The simplest answer is to not sync your phone, but that might not be convenient.

Since every make and model of entertainment system (not just model of car) uses a different method to erase the data, the process can be/is daunting.

Enter US car industry exec AKA privacy advocate Andrea Amico.  He has created an app that will give you step by step instructions for wiping the car’s data.  You get, apparently, 10 tries for free, then the next bucket costs a whopping $1.99 – pretty affordable, especially if you rent cars frequently.

The good news is that the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (responsible for implementing GDPR protections in the UK) along with other data protection offices put together a resolution on the subject and given a few complaints, the ICO might well fine the car makers a couple million Euros if they don’t shape up.  That could get their attention.  

Stay tuned.

Information for this post came from The Register.

Information on the app can be found here.

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