Senators seek privacy, anti-hacking safeguards in cars

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A pair of Democratic senators want rules requiring automakers to develop hacking and privacy protections for their cars and trucks. 

Sens. Ed Markey (Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) on Tuesday introduced the Spy Car Act, which would require the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop standards to protect drivers’ privacy and to guard against a potentially deadly hack of a vehicle.

{mosads}“Drivers shouldn’t have to choose between being connected and being protected,” Markey said in a statement. “We need clear rules of the road that protect cars from hackers and American families from data trackers.”

The hacking issue came into clear focus Tuesday after a Wired reporter detailed his experience being a test driver for researchers who were able to control a Chrysler vehicle’s brakes, steering and transmission through its wireless entertainment system. The researchers are slated to present their findings next month, and Chrysler recently released a patch for the vulnerability. 

Some of their work was cited in a report released by Markey’s office earlier this year titled “Tracking and Hacking” that found nearly all cars on the market include wireless technology that could be vulnerable and only two manufacturers could describe any capabilities to respond to an attack in real time. 

The legislation would require the NHTSA to set standards to ensure all wireless access points of a vehicle are protected, that critical systems are isolated, that the vehicle has technology to detect and stop a hack in real time, and that all information collected is secured. 

It would also require the FTC to develop rules to force car companies to make customers aware of collected data and give them the option to opt out of much of it. It would also prohibit marketers from using driving information for ad targeting. 

New vehicles would also have to display information about how well their cars protects drivers’ privacy and security. 

Blumenthal said carmakers have left vulnerabilities in their products as they rush to “roll out the next big thing.”

“Federal law must provide minimum standards and safeguards that keep hackers out of drivers’ private data lanes,” he said. 

Tags Ed Markey Hacking Privacy Richard Blumenthal vehicle safety

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