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The California Privacy Protection Agency’s (CPPA) Enforcement Division is reviewing the data privacy practices of connected vehicle (CV) manufacturers and related CV technologies, the agency announced on Monday.
Vehicles under review have features such as location sharing, web-based entertainment, and smartphone integration and cameras.
The CPPA declined comment to FOX Business on which vehicle manufacturers were targeted, saying, “We’re not able to disclose which companies received letters.”
According to the CPPA, “data privacy considerations are critical because these vehicles often automatically gather consumers’ locations, personal preferences, and details about their daily lives.”
“Modern vehicles are effectively connected computers on wheels,” CPPA’s executive director Ashkan Soltani said.
“They’re able to collect a wealth of information via built-in apps, sensors, and cameras, which can monitor people both inside and near the vehicle,” she continued. “Our Enforcement Division is making inquiries into the connected vehicle space to understand how these companies are complying with California law when they collect and use consumers’ data.”
Data compiled by the CPPA showed the state has more than 35 million registered vehicles, with even more sharing the roads from other states.
“The sheer number of vehicles makes it an area that affects all Californians who drive, ride-share, or even walk near a car equipped with these technologies,” the CPPA said in a statement.
Meanwhile, regulators around the world have raised concerns about the volume of personal data collected by vehicles that increasingly gather, store and transmit information for entertainment, performance and safety purposes.
Despite the concerns, the Dutch Data Protection Authority said on Wednesday it would not fine Tesla over possible privacy violations after the U.S. carmaker made changes to vehicle security cameras.
In January and drawing on Stellantis’ connected vehicles, the Chrysler-subsidiary created a new unit called Mobilisights for licensing data to a wide range of customers, including rival carmakers, which are expected to reach 34 million by 2030.
Mobilisights said it would operate under strict privacy safeguards, sharing only personal data with customer consent and allowing owners to opt out even after consenting.
Reuters contributed to this report.
American consumers are depleting the “excess savings” they accumulated during the COVID pandemic, which could hamper the U.S. economy’s ability to achieve a soft landing as the Federal Reserve continues to fight inflation.
Amid the COVID pandemic, the federal government shelled out trillions of dollars in financial support for consumers and businesses intended to stabilize the economy amid shutdowns and supply chain disruptions. The influx of cash increased the amount of money many American households in the bank above pre-pandemic trends in savings, which is why economists refer to those funds as “excess savings.”
Americans’ excess savings from the pandemic peaked at about $2.1 trillion in August 2021 but fell to roughly $500 billion as of this spring, according to estimates by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
The economists suggested that the remaining savings could support consumer spending into the fourth quarter, but noted that “uncertainty surrounds this outlook, including the possibilities that households may now have a higher appetite for savings, significantly shift their spending habits, or receive other sources of income that offset the expired pandemic-era cash flows.”
A separate report by Federal Reserve economists who specialize in international finance found that the U.S. depleted its excess savings from the pandemic in the first quarter of 2023, slightly faster than other advanced economies.
The economists wrote that the sharper decline in excess savings meant that those dollars played a bigger role in supporting demand in the U.S. economy over the last year: “Given the more rapid drawdown of excess savings, aggregate demand in the United States is likely to have been more than in other countries over the past year.”
Whether the excess savings have already been depleted or are likely to be tapped out toward the end of 2023 or early 2024, as those funds are spent it could lead to diminished consumer spending that makes it harder for the economy to have a “soft landing” and avoid a deep recession.
At a press conference last week following the Fed’s decision to hike interest rates for the 11th time since March 2022, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell cited strong consumer confidence as a cause for optimism about the U.S. economy’s prospects for avoiding a deep recession.
“The overall resilience of the economy, the fact that we’ve been able to achieve disinflation so far without any meaningful negative impact on the labor market, the strength of the economy overall, that’s a good thing. It’s good to see that, of course. It’s also you see consumer confidence coming up and things like that, that will support activity going forward,” Powell said.
The resumption of student loan repayments this fall may also force U.S. borrowers to tap into what remains of their excess savings from the pandemic. Loans are scheduled to resume accruing interest in September with payments due in October.