Originally published June 17 2015
Google's self-driving cars will monitor you and target you with ads, Audi warns
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Google's corporate motto is, "Don't be evil," but judging by the media and tech companies' investments and product developments lately, you might be hard pressed to believe that its corporate bosses take that seriously.
You may have heard that one of Google's most recent projects is developing driverless cars that are wired to the "Internet of Things," so to speak. While that in and of itself doesn't seem so "evil," consider a warning by Audi's chief executive, who is warning that Google's self-driving cars will essentially spy on occupants.
Increasingly, motor vehicles are becoming more wired, far beyond simple GPS and GPS-enabled monitoring systems. At the same time, the quest for driverless vehicles is ramping up as well, and the software that will be required to operate such vehicles safely will be a key component.
But software-driven vehicles also produce a new range of questions and concerns about data transfer, collection and, importantly, use. This has driven car companies to take clear stances on the use of data and privacy.
The car as your living room
"A car is one's second living room today," Audi Chief Executive Rupert Stadler said recently during a business event in Berlin attended by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.
"That's private. The only person who needs access to the data onboard is the customer," he said, adding Audi "takes that seriously."
Data about a car's location (and, naturally, the car's occupant) as well as its speed could prove to be attractive to advertisers, insurance companies and communications firms who might use the data for their own commercial objectives.
Already, German automakers are lobbying government regulators to make sure they take a strict line in establishing data privacy, an action that would, they hope, make it more difficult if not impossible for software and telecom firms to establish a data-driven business model in the automobile industry.
"The customer wants to be at the focus, and does not want to be exploited," said Stadler.
"The Internet, cookies and other data collectors are almost common courtesy."
As further reported by the UK's Daily Mail:
Speaking at the same event, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said the Internet technology company wants 'essential' German expertise to realize its European automobile projects.
The California-based company has worked with Audi, Adam Opel AG and Volkswagen AG in an 'Automobile Alliance' for about a year, Schmidt said.
The stance taken by Stadler, CEO of Volkswagen's flagship automobile division, is similar in terms of privacy to positions taken by auto rival Daimler which, like Audi, has developed a driverless vehicle.
Audi, Daimler's Mercedes and BMW, along with private equity firm General Atlantic, are together bidding for Nokia's mapping, as part of a larger push in to development of software and autonomous cars, the Daily Mail reported, citing anonymous sources who spoke to Reuters in May.
"Gobbling up info on you and trying to monetize it"
Critics of Google and its alleged pursuit of marketing technology to accompany driverless vehicles include Apple CEO Tim Cook. Recently, he launched a broadside against Google and other rivals, accusing them of "gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it."
In being honored for "corporate leadership" during the Electronic Privacy Information Center's Champions of Freedom event June 1 in Washington, D.C., Cook spoke to the crowd remotely.
"Like many of you, we at Apple reject the idea that our customers should have to make tradeoffs between privacy and security," he said.
"I'm speaking to you from Silicon Valley, where some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information," he said. "They're gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that's wrong. And it's not the kind of company that Apple wants to be."
As noted by Natural News in early June, the Web's newest search engine, Good Gopher, is set to launch soon. Good Gopher is the world's first privacy-protecting search engine that bans corporate propaganda and government disinfo.
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