Think Twice about connecting your Android phone to your vehicle

As I'm sure you didn't notice (and most people won't) a new Data "Use" Notice was sent out by Google today with regards to the use of Android Auto and your personal information(and your vehicles).

Most of the Data Notice is pretty obvious with the use of cellular data and vehicle information which Android Auto will use "internally" to AA and apps that are being displayed on the dash etc. However there is a very interesting paragraph at the end with regards to the use of your vehicle information that AA will send off to Google for later use.

Warning: Google is now collecting information about your vehicle such as: Make, Model, Fuel Level, Odometer, Presence of someone in the passenger seat, and sending this information up to Google. There is no way to opt out of this data collection

When if comes to your personal information and what you choose to share with companies like Google, there are several things you need to be aware with with the this new notice:

  • "Google may access other data such as...". I hate that word "such as", as if it's supposed to give you the feeling that its only the ones listed that will be used. ALL VEHICLE INFORMATION can be accessed by Google, not just the ones listed.

  • "This data is not linked to your Google Account". Notice how they clearly did not say that this data would be collected and used "Anonymously"? They only said that it would not be tied to your Google Account.. But what about your Cell Phone number? your vehicle VIN? Your browser cookies on your phone etc. All of those other identifiers can tie that vehicle information back to "you" without using your Google Account.

  • There is no mention about how this information will be used by Google once it is sent off from your vehicle.. will it be used for Advertising purposes? for improvements to Google Maps/Waze? for other tracking purposes?

  • There is no way mentioned or available in the current Android Auto version to opt out of this data collection.. You can opt out of Google Analytics collection, but that is a completely different data set.

I will be reaching out to Google directly to ask some pointed questions about the data use.

What can you say but... #ShameOnGoogle.

Android Auto Data Notice

Android Auto 3.1.581054 Analysis

Based on the decompiled analysis of the AA apk, the following Vehicle data is being read:

  • TirePressureData
  • DiagnosticsData
  • PassengerData
  • LightData
  • DoorData
  • DeadReckoningData
  • GpsSatelliteData
  • GyroscopeData
  • AccelerometerData
  • DrivingStatusData
  • CompassData
  • CarSpeedData
  • RpmData
  • OdometerData
  • FuelLevelData
  • ParkingBrakeData
  • GearData
  • NightData
  • HvacData
  • EnvironmentData
  • TurnIndicatorState
  • HeadLightState

Other possible sources of data obtained are:

  • RadioStation List
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