Identity Theft: Could It Be Your GPS’ Fault? Probably Not, But Maybe

Is your GPS stealing your identity? It might seem far-fetched, but some privacy advocacy groups are concerned that companies tracking consumers’ location data could put you at risk.

While companies tell consumers they are collecting location data, they don’t always disclose what information they are collecting. Or how that data is stored.

Some companies don’t give consumers the ability to delete personal data, leading to a cache of personal information that could be easily accessed by hackers, the Washington Times reports.

Although privacy behind the wheel is an issue worth noting, officials with the Electronic Privacy Information Center say there haven’t been any major violations of consumers’ rights.

“Anytime you’re collecting data about consumers, there’s a need to be aware of what the companies are doing and the implications of holding that data,” Alan Butler, an attorney with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told the Times.

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Congress’ watchdog arm, looked at 10 companies involved in the auto industry, including Ford, Honda and Chrysler, along with GPS producers Garmin and TomTom, to see what kind of information was being collected from consumers and how it was used.

Data collected is used to provide turn-by-turn directions and traffic information, as well as provide information for roadside assistance or recovery from theft. 

The report found companies are taking steps to protect consumers’ privacy, such as making sure data is de-identified in the case of a breach.

Several of the companies share location data with third-party companies, such as traffic information providers. However, all of the companies said they do not share personally identifiable location data with or sell the data to marketing companies or data brokers.

Is you car spying on you? GPS tracks ‘consumers,’ identity theft at risk [The Washington Times]