100th meeting of the VDA’s Working Group for Data Protection – Core topic for 40 years – “Data protection is customer protection”
Connected and automated driving offers huge opportunities for even greater safety and efficiency. IT and vehicle technology are growing closer together. At the same time, the flows of data and information in this field are steadily expanding. In this process of digitization data protection is of major importance. “Data protection is customer protection. The automotive industry attaches great value to a customer relationship built on trust. Data protection is therefore top priority in our industry,” stressed Matthias Wissmann, President of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), at the 100th meeting of the VDA’s “Working Group for Data Protection.”
The German automotive industry has already kept its eye firmly on data protection in technical developments for around 40 years. Since the end of the 1970s, the VDA’s specially created Working Group for Data Protection has supported and shaped all technical developments in the automotive industry by working on the relevant aspects of data protection legislation. The working group has now met for the 100th time. Wissmann said, “This shows that data protection has been a central task in the VDA for many years. This is not something static, but a dynamic process that always brings new challenges. Previously the focus was on protection of data from employees and customers, but in today’s digital age we now also have to secure data from products and services.”
During the development of connected vehicles and new vehicle functions, the automotive industry has tackled the legal data protection challenges at an early stage. The data protection principles for connected driving elaborated by the VDA – as a supplement to the existing statutory regulations in Germany – put in place a suitable framework for the industry. The document defines three central data protection principles as benchmarks for protecting data: “transparency,” “self-determination” and “data security.” The automotive industry applies them early on in the overall conceptual design for new technologies in line with the principle of “privacy by design.” Furthermore, the document provides a chart explaining the data categories in connected vehicles.
Wissmann emphasized: “In the case of forward-.looking topics such as automated and connected driving, questions of data protection law can be answered only in an open and frank dialog with the stakeholders. Therefore, since 2009 the VDA has been in close contact with the independent data protection authorities of the federal government and of the individual states.” The Joint Statement (published in January 2016) from the conference of the independent data protection authorities of the federal government and the states, and the VDA, on “Data protection law aspects of the use of networked and non-networked vehicles” has brought legal clarity for all those concerned. “The VDA and the supervisory authorities are continuing their constructive dialog in order to clarify data protection issues for future developments. The customers’ high expectations of our member companies regarding the quality of products and services are the yardstick for the German automotive industry when it comes to handling data,” Wissmann said.