Verizon has entered the consumer automotive diagnostic and roadside assistance market with their own aftermarket device and service that connects drivers to any help they need. It’s called Hum, and as a telecommunications carrier new privacy concerns are being raised.
By tapping your car’s on-board diagnostic port, Hum can convey information through a Bluetooth-enabled speaker clipped to your visor. Hum works with most automotive diagnostic ports (electrics and diesels excepted) and is compatible with nearly any car made in the last two decades, plus it costs only 15 bucks a month.
Hum collects data on a range of parameters, including fuel economy, battery charge level, transmission coolant temperature, and engine error codes. It relays that info to the cloud, and an iPhone or Android app will notify you if anything seems amiss. If your car throws an error code, the app explains what it means, recommends repairs and even provides an estimate for what it will cost. If something trickier pops up, a hotline will connect you to a mechanic who will help diagnose the problem.
“It’s smart because there are plenty of people who own cars that do not have any kind of connected capability,” says Karl Brauer, an automotive industry analyst with Kelley Blue Book. “But, I’m not generally thrilled with the idea that I’m having everything I do tracked by somebody.”
Nowadays, privacy is more of a business and political challenge than it is a consumer challenge. Consumers have effectively signed off their rights to their own privacy. Practically speaking, privacy matters for consumers differ from privacy matters for businesses and corporations.
Whether or not we realize this individually, consumers want the benefits of their information being shared. We want better ads served to us, better solutions, better experiences. These things can and do improve because of the information about our use of data and technology being shared.
Corporations are the most at risk by collecting the type of consumer information that Hum and OnStar gather. A wrong move can cost a corporation millions (or billions) and be a PR nightmare.
Verizon, of course, says it will vigorously protect your data, sharing it with third parties only in cases where it’s needed to provide services like roadside assistance. And it will share data with law enforcement only “where authorized and required by law.”
“We take privacy very seriously,” says Andres Irlando, CEO of Verizon Telematics. “We’ve built the service with that in mind.”
Do you use OnStar or something similar in your vehicle? What sort of concerns do you have regarding your privacy? Share your thoughts below and let us know.