Undeniably gone are those days when car owners had only in mind issues such as roadworthiness and other simple technical or mechanical vehicle failures because, apparently, our technologically wired lives these days changed all that - forever.
On Tuesday, two big automobile clubs in California - AAA of Northern California and Automobile Club of South California - backed a regulation called Senate Bill 994 authored and proposed by State Senator Bill Monning. The bill aims to provide vehicle owners more control over when and how Internet and computer data from their vehicles can be transmitted. AAA of Nevada and Utah also supported the bill.
"Our cars are quickly becoming mobile computers," Sen. Monning said. Which reminds the importance of having basic safeguards for consumer safety and privacy in spite of the benefits of technology.
The Los Angeles Times reported that around one in five new vehicles now gather and convey to its manufacturers data on safe or unsafe driving maneuvers, engine performance and cellphone or entertainment system usage and location. Although most data of vehicle are made available only to its manufacturers and dealers, the auto clubs sought more access for them as well as for independent mechanics with one rule: an explicit authorization of the car owner.
These auto clubs explained that the availability of performance data would make room for more competition in the auto-repair market. It would also assist car owners in learning ahead of impending problems before they even bring about breakdowns and increase types of roadside emergency services that are available to owners.
Washington trade group, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, however, criticized the proposed legislation as another "single-interest corporate bill" that intended to seed income for the said nonprofit auto clubs of California.
Sen. Monning though stood firm with the bill. "We, the owner of the vehicle, should have the final word on who can access that data. We can choose to direct it to certain third parties or to not let third parties have access to it," Monning told KTVU.com.
A report by the San Francisco Business Times revealed the bill is due in the next few weeks for consideration by a California Senate policy committee.
Yet come 2025, here's the likely scenario: every passenger car will be a "connected car" that is in constant touch with nearby vehicles and the Internet. How dangerous could that be, that is yet to be known in the future.