Don’t think for a minute your driving data is yours

Just the other day we wrote about the imbalances that come with Terms of Services, End User Licence Agreements and Privacy Policies, esp. when applied to products we usually think of as things we own. We talked about John Deere and the Right to Repair. Now comes a different story from the Guardian.

The AP observed in September: “Tesla Motors has used data to reveal – sometimes within hours of a crash – how fast the driver was going and whether or not the company’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system was engaged.”

In a statement to the Guardian, Tesla defended this practice. “In unusual cases in which claims have already been made publicly about our vehicles by customers, authorities or other individuals, we have released information based on the data to either corroborate or disprove these claims. The privacy of our customers is extremely important and something we take very seriously, and in such cases, Tesla discloses only the minimum amount of information necessary.”

Tesla indemnifies itself extensively in its privacy policy, granting itself the right to “transfer and disclose information, including personal and non-personally identifiable information … to protect the rights, property, safety, or security of the Services, Tesla, third parties, visitors to our Services, or the public, as determined by us in our sole discretion”.

Of course, it’s in Tesla’s interest to defend the record of its AutoPilot system. But going as far as not giving your customers access to – ostensibly – their data, while using said data to discredit their trustworthiness, well, it’s something else entirely. And it’s not a good lool.

I’m not quite sure whether they, as they state, indeed faithfully comply with European Data Protection and Privacy regulation (which would give customers rights to inspect data held on them). And such conduct will certainly be a talking point in the ongoing conversation about how to regulate self-driving vehicles.