Mozilla Foundation dubs Tesla, Nissan, and fellow modern cars a “privacy nightmare”

Key Points

  • 🚗 The Mozilla Foundation has labeled modern cars, including Tesla and Nissan, as a “privacy nightmare,” stating that cars are the “worst category of products for privacy” they have reviewed.
  • 📊 Mozilla’s report examined 25 car brands and found that none of them met privacy standards, with all of them collecting excessive personal data.
  • 📈 Around 84% of car manufacturers share or sell customer data, and 92% do not provide drivers with adequate control over their personal data.
  • 🚘 Tesla was singled out for its “untrustworthy AI,” while Nissan’s privacy policies were deemed alarming due to data collection including sensitive information like “sexual activity” and “genetic information.”
  • 🏆 In Mozilla’s rankings, Tesla was placed below Nissan due to its AI-related concerns and its Autopilot system’s involvement in accidents.

A report published by the Mozilla Foundation has claimed that cars are the “worst category of products for privacy” that the firm has ever reviewed. As noted by Mozilla, out of 25 car brands that it studied, none made the cut. Tesla, arguably the most software-focused carmaker today, was singled out by the firm for its “untrustworthy AI.” 

Mozilla noted that automakers today, if one were to closely look at their privacy policies, collect a lot of data. The firm noted that every single one of the 25 car brands that it studied collected more personal data than necessary. Around 84% of the carmakers also share or sell customer data, and 92% give drivers little to no control over their personal data. 

Specifically, Mozilla studied Renault, Dacia, BMW, Subaru, Fiat, Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Volkswagen, Toyota, Lexus, Ford, Lincoln, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Acura, Kia, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Hyundai, Nissan, and Tesla. Among these, Mozilla called out Tesla and Nissan for data privacy policies that are reportedly alarming. 

As noted by Mozilla, Tesla is actually not too bad when it comes to its privacy policies. The company, for one, does not sell or rent personal information to third parties. Tesla also gives owners the choice of whether they wish to share their personal information with third parties or not. Mozilla, however, took issue with Tesla’s warning that customers who opt out of vehicle connectivity could have a car that’s unusable. 

“If you no longer wish for us to collect vehicle data or any other data from your Tesla vehicle, please contact us to deactivate connectivity. Please note, certain advanced features such as over-the-air updates, remote services, and interactivity with mobile applications, and in-car features such as location search, Internet radio, voice commands, and web browser functionality rely on such connectivity. 

“If you choose to opt out of vehicle data collection (with the exception of in-car Data Sharing preferences), we will not be able to know or notify you of issues applicable to your vehicle in real time. This may result in your vehicle suffering from reduced functionality, serious damage, or inoperability,” Tesla’s privacy notice read

Nissan, for its part, is reportedly worse, Mozilla noted. The firm noted that in the Nissan USA privacy notice, the automaker makes references to some strange policies. In the “Types of Personal Data collected” section of the page, for one, Nissan noted that things such as “citizenship status, immigration status, race, national origin, religious or philosophical beliefs, sexual orientation, sexual activity, and genetic information” are collected.

Nissan also noted that the company could share and sell “inferences drawn from any Personal Data collected to create a profile about a consumer reflecting the consumer’s preferences, characteristics, psychological trends, predispositions, behavior, attitudes, intelligence, abilities, and aptitudes” to other parties for targeted marketing purposes. 

“Nissan earned its second-to-last spot for collecting some of the creepiest categories of data we have ever seen. It’s worth reading the review in full, but you should know it includes your ‘sexual activity.’ Not to be outdone, Kia also mentions they can collect information about your ‘sex life’ in their privacy policy. Oh, and six car companies say they can collect your ‘genetic information’ or ‘genetic characteristics.’ Yes, reading car privacy policies is a scary endeavor,” the Mozilla Foundation noted. 

The Mozilla Foundation noted that Nissan is probably the worst car company that it has reviewed with regards to privacy. However, in the firm’s rankings, it opted to put Tesla at the bottom of the list, below Nissan. This, according to Mozilla, was because Tesla also received marks for having “untrustworthy AI,” which is connected to Autopilot

“Tesla is only the second product we have ever reviewed to receive all of our privacy ‘dings.’ (The first was an AI chatbot we reviewed earlier this year.) What set them apart was earning the ‘untrustworthy AI’ ding. The brand’s AI-powered Autopilot was reportedly involved in 17 deaths and 736 crashes and is currently the subject of multiple government investigations,” the foundation noted. 

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