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Privacy Concerns Raised As ‘Smart Cars’ Track Personal Data

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Every time you take your car for a spin, a digital trail is tracking every move you make.

That information can follow you around for years.

As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported on Monday, Big Brother has hitched a ride inside your dashboard.

Your GPS and other high-tech on-board devices can be secretly tracking your every move.

“I don’t want nobody to know where I’ve been,” a driver in Astoria said. “My business.”

Where you live, eat, work and shop is all stored. If you sell you car, the information stays there for the next person to see unless you manually delete it, Brennan reported.

“Wow, that’s crazy. I didn’t realize that,” said another driver.

“People don’t even know that this is being done, that this kind of technology is available and that their whereabouts, perhaps in real time, but definitely after the fact can be determined by somebody who might be examining the innards of the vehicle,” Robert Sinclair Jr. with AAA New York told Brennan.

What’s even more disturbing, Brennan reported, is that the information is also for sale. The Government Accountability Office in a report issued late last year said 90 percent of car dealers share the information.

“It’s not just general data, how many people shop at this store. They know it’s you, they know where every single person went and what they did,” Sen. Charles Schumer said. “Cars are ‘smarter’ than they have ever been, and they will only continue to get smarter as technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Cars are now able to track where we shop, where we eat and where we go on family vacations, but drivers should be able to go about their daily lives without being tracked.”

New York’s senior senator has called on the Federal Trade Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to allow consumers to opt out of any information sharing.

By September, all cars will have mandatory black boxes that will know speed, direction and even the number of passengers.

“They should not have to be watched. That’s what we are, it’s like communists when you get like this,” Astoria driver Betty Buckley said. “In other words, get lost!”

In response, the FTC said privacy is a top priority and they want companies to address these issues, Brennan reported.

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