NJ Bill: Auto Dealers Must Offer to Wipe Your Personal Info From Car
You may love the convenience of having a car that remembers your full name and address and can even help you gain access to your home.
But that information doesn't automatically vanish when you trade your vehicle in for a newer model or complete the terms of your lease agreement.
New Jersey lawmakers are trying to create some rules that would help protect consumers' sensitive information — but, according to advocates for the automobile industry, the proposed rules may not do much to change what's already happening on the lot.
An Assembly committee in late March unanimously advanced a measure that forces auto dealers to at least offer to delete a customer's personal information from a vehicle when they bring the vehicle back for potential reuse.
A dealer who doesn't do this could be fined $500 for a first offense, and $1,000 for any subsequent offense.
"It really has become an industry best practice to attempt to wipe clean any number of different data collection devices in motor vehicles these days," said Jim Appleton, president of the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers.
The bill "strikes an excellent balance," Appleton said. For one, the bill permits dealers to charge consumers "a reasonable fee" for these services. But, according to Appleton, many dealers who are doing the data swipe today aren't charging their customers anything.
An earlier version of the legislation required dealers to remove a customer's sensitive information upon the vehicle's return, and did not indicate whether dealers could charge for the service.
Appleton noted that the current bill also spells out what it means to "delete" someone's information from a vehicle.
The bill's language specifically mentions navigation history, paired phones, and garage door codes. The data clearing would have to follow guidelines developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Dealers may be able to overwrite data by using a menu option or restore a vehicle's device to its original factory settings.