People Are Slowly Realizing Their Auto Insurance Rates Are Skyrocketing Because Their Car Is Covertly Spying On Them

Last month the New York Times’ Kashmir Hill published a major story on how GM collects driver behavior data then sells access (through LexisNexis) to insurance companies, which will then jack up your rates.

The absolute bare minimum you could could expect from the auto industry here is that they’re doing this in a way that’s clear to car owners. But of course they aren’t; they’re burying “consent” deep in the mire of some hundred-page end user agreement nobody reads, usually not related to the car purchase — but the apps consumers use to manage roadside assistance and other features.

Since Kashmir’s story was published, she says she’s been inundated with complaints by consumers about similar behavior. She’s even discovered that she’s one of the folks GM spied on and tattled to insurers about. In a follow up story, she recounts how she and her husband bought a Chevy Bolt, were auto-enrolled in a driver assistance program, then had their data (which they couldn’t access) sold to insurers.

GM’s now facing 10 different federal lawsuits from customers pissed off that they were surreptitiously tracked and then forced to pay significantly more for insurance:

“In 10 federal lawsuits filed in the last month, drivers from across the country say they did not knowingly sign up for Smart Driver but recently learned that G.M. had provided their driving data to LexisNexis. According to one of the complaints, a Florida owner of a 2019 Cadillac CTS-V who drove it around a racetrack for events saw his insurance premium nearly double, an increase of more than $5,000 per year.”

GM (and some apologists) will of course proclaim that this is only fair that reckless drivers pay more, but that’s generally not how it works. Pressured for unlimited quarterly returns, insurance companies will use absolutely anything they find in the data to justify rising rates.


Automakers — which have long had some of the worst privacy reputations in all of tech — are one of countless industries that lobbied relentlessly for decades to ensure Congress never passed a federal privacy law or regulated dodgy data brokers. And that the FTC — the over-burdened regulator tasked with privacy oversight — lacks the staff, resources, or legal authority to police the problem at any real scale.

The end result is just a parade of scandals. And if Hill were so inclined, she could write a similar story about every tech sector in America, given everything from your smart TV and electricity meter to refrigerator and kids’ toys now monitor your behavior and sell access to those insights to a wide range of dodgy data broker middlemen, all with nothing remotely close to ethics or competent oversight.

And despite the fact that this free for all environment is resulting in no limit of dangerous real-world harms, our Congress has been lobbied into gridlock by a cross-industry coalition of companies with near-unlimited budgets, all desperately hoping that their performative concerns about TikTok will distract everyone from the fact we live in a country too corrupt to pass a real privacy law.

Source: People Are Slowly Realizing Their Auto Insurance Rates Are Skyrocketing Because Their Car Is Covertly Spying On Them | Techdirt

Robin Edgar

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