The data generated in modern vehicles has extraordinary untapped potential for industry and public authorities, a situation which poses a challenge for data privacy.
Digitalization, the Internet of Things (IoT), and big data are keywords we encounter on a daily basis. With the latest Facebook data scandal fresh in mind, the question of data privacy is more relevant than ever. What role will big data, the IoT, and digitalization play in the mobility of the future? How will they affect cars, how will they enhance the driving experience, and above all, how can users protect themselves and the data in their vehicles?
Digital Reformation and mobility’s re-invention
Some critics claim that digitalization is a trend the German automotive industry has neglected for years. But if you take a closer look at the history of the automobile, you see that digitalization has played a role in its development for a long time. Mobility is the basis of modern society; as a significant enabler of this, the automobile has consistently been improved since its invention by Karl Benz in 1885 in order to meet the increased need for safety, efficiency, and comfort. The first 100 years of this development basically consisted of analog changes; the digital revolution for cars started over 30 years ago, with inventions such as cruise control or ABS, and has been speeding up ever since. Digital technologies have already improved safety, efficiency, and comfort to a level that not even experts could have imagined decades ago.
The introduction of automated, self-driving vehicles will again lift the automobile to an entirely new level of development. Yet new opportunities bring new challenges. Safety in modern vehicles is an absolute necessity, and as with many other things demanded by the automotive industry – some of which are contradictory – any compromise is out of the question; if there are any safety or security issues, not only could the driver or passengers of the respective vehicle be affected, but many others on the road as well. The quest to further improve traffic safety is the main force pushing for the introduction of automated vehicle systems. To achieve this improvement in safety, vehicle dependency on the driver is being reduced and gradually replaced.
Who’s allowed to use which data?
The use of several different functions requires vehicles to generate data. A limited number of these vehicles is already networked and can provide the data remotely. However, the data types currently available are still limited. If vehicle complexity increases, more data types will be available. Yet how will drivers be able to decide how their data is used? Who will gain access to this data and what will it be used for?
There are numerous social and commercial uses possible for data generated in vehicles. Given that data has become a valuable asset and is the basis for many innovative applications and services, it is important that vehicle-generated data is made accessible to enable the development of new services. Vehicles must be networked to do this, which opens up the risk of hacker attacks. Therefore, cars will not be directly connected to the internet in order to keep this risk at a minimum. For example, using a dongle can be a considerable risk if it is connected to a wireless network over an inadequately secured connection.
To protect both passengers and the vehicle while allowing the collection of vehicle data, the VDA has developed the concept known as “NEVADA – Share & Secure”*. The concept will enable vehicle data to be used by independent providers to develop innovative apps and services, which will increase competition and the choices available to users as well. It will also enable vehicle manufacturers to guarantee data privacy for drivers and users, allowing them to choose who can use personal data generated by the vehicle and for what purpose. Above all, it will create a line of defense against hacker attacks for networked vehicles. A combination of the security sphere created by the NEVADA concept and additional security measures in the vehicle offers the most effective and sustainable approach to protecting the integrity of networked cars and the safety of the driver.
*“NEVADA – Share & Secure” is the name of the concept mentioned for access to vehicles and vehicle data. “NEVADA” (Neutral Extended Vehicle for Advanced Data Access) describes its technical implementation.