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Texas Doesn’t Want Automakers Sharing Your Driving Data With Insurance Companies

Many modern cars can collect data points about the vehicle, the driver, and the surrounding environment. This isn’t bad on its own, but automakers have been caught selling that data to the detriment of owners, and it has drawn the investigative eye of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. His office announced that it has opened an investigation into unnamed carmakers that collect and sell driver data without proper authorization or notice.

Paxton is going after the companies under the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices—Consumer Protection Act. It allows the attorney general to investigate companies for false, misleading, or deceptive acts. The office has already requested information from the involved carmakers and the third parties to whom they have sold data.

Paxton called the unauthorized collection of driver data “invasive” and “disturbing” and said that it requires “a thorough investigation and appropriate enforcement.” The state also has a new data privacy law that will go into effect on July 1.

The Record reported last month that Paxton’s office had sent “civil investigation demand” letters to at least four automakers in April—Kia, General Motors, Subaru, and Mitsubishi. The attorney general’s office is seeking company documents about the “disclosures they made to customers about the extent of their data collection practices and subsequent sale of their customers’s data.”

The investigation arrives after The New York Times revealed in March that GM, Kia, Subaru, and Mitsubishi have all shared driver data to a portal for insurers, and some GM drivers saw their insurance rates rise as a result. US lawmakers this year have also accused Toyota, BMW, Nissan, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, and others of sharing vehicle location data with police without a warrant or court order, raising even more privacy concerns.

The role of the automobile in the ever-expanding surveillance state is still undecided. They can record and share your speed, braking effort, how long you looked down at the infotainment screen, and so much more. Texas is just one of 50 states in the Union, but its size, like California, gives it outsized influence on the industry, and it might be the saving grace that lets us continue hooning in private.

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