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Snippet: Court Rules Automakers Can Record and Intercept Owner Text Messages ☇

Shared on November 9, 2023

Suzanne Smalley for The Record:

A federal judge on Tuesday refused to bring back a class action lawsuit alleging four auto manufacturers had violated Washington state’s privacy laws by using vehicles’ on-board infotainment systems to record and intercept customers’ private text messages and mobile phone call logs.

The Seattle-based appellate judge ruled that the practice does not meet the threshold for an illegal privacy violation under state law, handing a big win to automakers Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen and General Motors, which are defendants in five related class action suits focused on the issue. One of those cases, against Ford, had been dismissed on appeal previously. […]

An Annapolis, Maryland-based company, Berla Corporation, provides the technology to some car manufacturers but does not offer it to the general public, the lawsuit said. Once messages are downloaded, Berla’s software makes it impossible for vehicle owners to access their communications and call logs but does provide law enforcement with access, the lawsuit said.

Automakers are generally really terrible at software, especially infotainment systems. Instead of improving that, they’ve gone the route of creepy and are trying to replace your smartphone as the brains of the operation. Stories like this lead me to two decisions for my next vehicle—I’ll try my best to opt out of any “connected” features (app, cellular service, etc.) and CarPlay must be available to act as a dumb display—if not, I’ll go elsewhere. I really hate how we’re having to treat everything like smart TVs.

Snippets are posts that share a linked item with a bit of commentary.