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Consumer Watchdog Encourages Data Privacy in California Autonomous Vehicle Legislation

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March 12, 2014—Consumer Watchdog released a statement Tuesday asking the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to consider user privacy in regulations it is drafting to cover Google’s driverless cars and other autonomous vehicles.

"The DMV regulations must give the user control over what data is gathered and how the information will be used," said John M. Simpson, privacy project director at Consumer Watchdog. "The DMV's autonomous vehicle regulations must provide that driverless cars gather only the data necessary to operate the vehicle and retain that data only as long as necessary for the vehicle's operation. The regulations should provide that the data must not be used for any additional purpose such as marketing or advertising without the consumer's explicit opt-in consent."

Simpson spoke at a workshop at DMV headquarters to discuss development of regulations for autonomous vehicles.

The company most directly affected by the new regulations will be Google, which has previously rebuffed attempts to require privacy protections in the law.

Simpson said he believes Google won’t endorse privacy safeguards because its business model is based on the collection and use of personal digital information.

Consumer Watchdog also criticized the way the legislator and governor endorsed driverless technology without considering its ramifications.

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