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Today’s cars can be full of data

We live in a world of unprecedented data collection. All sorts of devices we use in our everyday lives can be filled with data on our habits, conduct and personal life. This includes our cars.

There has been major growth in the amount of technology in cars in recent times. This has led to there being all kinds of things in cars that collect, store or transmit data. Examples include computing systems, infotainment systems, navigation systems, cameras and the sensors in a car’s various components. The data such systems collect could cover a wide range of things about a driver, including:

  • Personal information.
  • When they have traveled.
  • Where they have been.
  • How they drive.

So, significant privacy concerns could come up for a person in relation to the data in and sent by their car. One context in which such concerns could arise is when a person is under investigation for criminal activity.

One of the more traditional privacy concerns related to a person’s car when they are under investigation by police is whether police followed proper practices and procedures in any searches they did of the car. These days, with the large amount of data cars can hold, police investigative tactics regarding a car could potentially go far beyond just physical searches. They could include data retrieval tactics. Just as with physical searches, one hopes all police officers make sure to be respectful of a person’s privacy and constitutional rights when it comes to data retrieval tactics regarding cars.

Whether police violated a person’s privacy/constitutional rights during an investigation can have major implications regarding the admissibility of the evidence found in the investigation. So, when individuals are facing criminal charges in relation to evidence police obtained from their car, whether it be physical evidence or digital evidence, how specifically police gathered this evidence could be a significant issue in their case.

Source: The Mercury News, “Wolverton: Cars take place with PCs and smartphones as threat to privacy,” Troy Wolverton, Feb. 3, 2017

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