Alan Mulally, chief executive officer of Ford, said drivers’ privacy needs to be protected by law as more vehicles use data for services such as location tracking amid the booming in-car technology market.
Mulally said at the Detroit auto show the company is “supportive and participating” in talks with regulators who are considering such legislation and he countered comments made last week by the automaker’s global marketing chief, who said Ford knows when drivers of its vehicles violate traffic laws through global-positioning system data.
The comments by Jim Farley, Ford’s executive vice president of global marketing, have directed attention to the car industry as in-vehicle technology becomes more common. Documents released by former government contractor Edward Snowden last year have sparked a firestorm in the U.S. related to data-privacy concerns with technology and telecommunications companies.
“It’s just really important that we have boundaries and guidelines to operate,” Mulally, 68, told reporters on the sidelines of the show. “Our homes, the cars, everything is going to be on the Internet. Everything’s going to be connected. And so what are the guidelines? What do we want?”
Mulally said that Farley’s comments were inaccurate.
“What he said was not right,” Mulally said. “We do not track the vehicles. That’s absolutely wrong. We would never track the vehicles. And we’d only send data to get map data if they agree that that’s OK to do that, but we don’t do anything with the data, we don’t track it and we would never do that.”
Technology is the top-selling attribute for 39 percent of vehicle buyers today, more than twice the 14 percent who say their first consideration is traditional performance measures such as power and speed, according to a study that consulting firm Accenture released in December. A separate Government Accountability Office report last month said that while carmakers and navigation-device companies are taking steps to protect privacy, some risks may not be clear to consumers.