Press Releases

Aspects under data protection law of the use of networked and non-networked vehicles

Berlin/Schwerin, 26 January 2016

Joint statement by the independent data protection authorities of the German Federal Republic and the Federal States and the German Association of the Automotive Industry

Today’s modern motor vehicles already need and produce a large number of data. In view of the progressive information technology resources of the vehicles and their links with the internet, as well as networking of traffic participants among each other, this trend is set to continue. In the coming years it will lead to far-reaching changes in road traffic. Furthermore, many new vehicle functions and transport telematics applications are evolving, for instance in the fields of service and multimedia. Digitizing and in particular networking involve not only benefits for traffic safety and comfort, but also risks for the privacy rights of vehicle users.

In view of the topicality of this theme, the federal and individual state data protection authorities have jointly drafted a declaration on “Data protection law aspects of the use of networked and non-networked vehicles” (see attachment) and address the following themes:

  • Personal nature and privacy of data generated in the vehicle,
  • Fixing of the time of data collection,
  • Defining the responsible body,
  • Legal bases for handling data in motor vehicles,
  • Right to information from the manufacturer under data privacy law,
  • Sovereignty of data processing operations in the vehicle.

The data protection authorities and the VDA were able to agree on the personal references in data generated by the use of motor vehicles if these are linked with the vehicle identification number or the licence plate number. In order to establish the time of data collection and the responsible body, it is important to distinguish between vehicles operated “online” and “offline” (in other words with or without immediate data transfer). For understanding data processing in motor vehicles, their purpose and the existence of a contractual ruling or consent, for instance by the vehicle owner, are important. Vehicle owners have a right to information free of charge with regard to personal data collected and stored by the manufacturer. Furthermore, the on-board documentation of the vehicles will provide information about the most important questions concerning data processing.

The data protection authorities will continue the dialogue with VDA on further issues of data protection in automated and networked vehicles.

Eckehart Rotter
Eckehart Rotter Head of Department Press

Tel: +49 30 897842-120 Fax: +49 30 897842-603
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