Is Android Auto Invading Your Privacy?

Technology can be pretty polarizing to many people. For some, it’s a way that we can improve our quality of life, and for others, it puts our security at risk. As data breaches become the headlines in the local newspapers, it’s easy to wonder where else we are putting ourselves at risk. While apps like Tik Tok are undergoing scrutiny for compromising user’s personal information, we are left questioning where else our data is going. Cars are integrated with more and more technology, and that includes technology to help us use our phone to improve our overall driving experience. Applications like Android Auto use our data for various features, but are they doing so to make the app more effective, or are they invading our privacy?

The answer is simple, even if it doesn’t seem like it

Android Auto does record a certain amount of data from our car, and while that might sound intimidating, that doesn’t mean it records all of our personal data. There have been a lot of unsupported claims of data being taken, but you may have never heard of them because there isn’t any evidence to back it up. Android Auto does collect some data about your car, but it’s not anything you should be concerned with.

BMW's infotainment screen showing Android Auto functionality
BMW infotainment with Android Auto | BMW

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The Android Auto operating system is designed to pair with your Android device and mimic specific applications right on your infotainment screen. This can improve the overall quality of our car’s infotainment system as well as make it more user-friendly because it is based on a platform that people are already accustomed to — their phones. Almost every major auto manufacturer integrated Android Auto into their cars, and a lot of owners have enjoyed the program so far.

What kind of data Android Auto collects

So I had mentioned that Android Auto does collect data from your car, but that you shouldn’t be concerned. Unless you know what kind of data is being collected, it does sound intimidating. Android Auto collects a very minimal amount of data from the user, and it’s mostly in regard to the car’s mechanical systems. That means that your text message and music usage data is safe as far as we know.

Distracted driving leading cause of car accidents
Teenager using a phone at the wheel | BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Android Auto locks the ability to use some applications based on whether the car is parked or in drive. This is to help ensure the driver isn’t being distracted by what is happening on the screen, but it does require the onboard system to know whether the car is in drive or not, and that’s the first bit of data it collects.

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What sounds more concerning is that Android Auto collects location information, but not to spy on how often you make it to the gym every week — or at least drive into the parking lot. Android Auto uses your GPS coordinates to give you location information that can be used for traffic updates or navigation, so it’s reasonable to see why this information is collected.

Overall there haven’t been any valid threats to your personal privacy due to the use of Android Auto. It will continue to become a popular program that many new cars will feature, and as the technology evolves, its sure to only get better. Until a backed complaint arises, it’s safe to say that Android Auto isn’t invading your privacy too much.