UK company offers GDPR-compliant service to cleanse connected cars of personal information


With new European privacy of information legislation coming into effect at the end of the month, a UK company is offering first-of-its-kind service, enabling individuals and fleet organizations to clear any data stored on their vehicles, without affecting the cars’ factory settings.

On May 25, companies throughout the UK will have to ensure they are compliant with the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which aims to strengthen the data protection rights of all individuals living within the EU.

The legislation will reform the UK’s existing 1998 Data Protection Act, and the new regulations are going to have a huge impact on all industries, especially those that operate or manage vehicle fleets. Modern vehicles hold personal data, downloaded from mobile devices or onboard units and systems, and this data is accessible unless removed, leaving companies or operators liable under the new GDPR regulations.

The new legislation defines personal data as any information that relates to an identified or identifiable human being, which includes IP addresses from their computer systems, economical, geographical location, previous driving information, and much more.

During the life span of a vehicle, user data such as navigation and Bluetooth information is collected and stored within the vehicle’s systems. If the data is not removed when the vehicle is at the end of its contract and personal data remains available to others, then this is a breach of the GDPR and Data Protection Act rules, and companies or operators could be fined. Fines for data breaches and non-compliance can be up to £20m (US$27m) or 4% of global annual turnover.

UK company Vehicle Data Clear has developed its own system to provide a comprehensive, data clearing service that can be completed the day it is ordered. The company’s trained specialists will arrive on site and perform the tasks required and automatically issue a compliancy certificate at the end of each job, ensuring company and personal data is protected.

Many individuals are not aware that their data is being stored. Research company Solace recently polled 1,500 connected car owners and discovered that only 38% of them knew that their cars could store personally identifiable information, with 48% unaware that this was the case.

“Cars are becoming more connected, both to remote systems for navigation and with our personal information and preferences. However, the general public is unaware of this information being stored,” noted Anesh Chauhan, founder of Vehicle Data Clear.

“While the Internet of Things (IoT) will make our lives easier, every new data entry interface increases the number of potential targets for hackers, and data needs clearing to protect it from reaching unbeknown third parties. Our new service will give individuals and organizations peace of mind that their data is safe.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).