Auto Service World
Feature   March 31, 2014   by Allan Janssen

Who owns the data?

Aftermarket is in good position to receive telematics data, CAA exec says at the Automotive Industries Association of Canadas Ontario Service Providers Forum in Toronto last week.

Independent auto repairers and roadside assistance providers in Canada are in a good position to win the legal right to receive telematics data.

So says the vice president of public affairs and chief strategy officer for the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

Speaking at the Automotive Industries Association of Canada’s Ontario Service Providers Forum in Toronto last week, Jeff Walker said the federal government’s strong position of protecting consumer rights and the recently settled “right to repair” battle both point to a legal and political victory for the aftermarket on the use of data collected and transmitted by in-vehicle telematics systems.

“The bottom line is that we hold a number of good cards in this equation,” Walker told the audience of about 200 parts manufacturers, distributors, and independent automotive service providers. “Because of the pre-existing levels of trust that people have in our organization (CAA) and that your regular customers have with you in your industry (independent auto repair), we’re in a very advantageous position when it comes to making sure there’s a level playing field on telematics.”

He said CAA and AIA have been collaborating on the coming challenges associated with telematics for some time.

He took the opportunity to share data from a recent Harris/Decima poll of 1,500 CAA members across Canada that revealed consumers strongly defend their rights to own and share their own vehicle data.

“It’s their data, they want to control it, and they want the right to do with it what they wish,” he said “They’re willing to share it, despite the discussions about privacy, as long as they know they’re going to benefit from sharing it.”

That’s good news for the aftermarket, he said.

In an interview following the conference, Walker said there could be “some tense moments” in the inevitable discussions about telematics data, but because of the political climate in Canada, politicians are likely to favour a very open system when it comes to sharing telematics data.

“They’re not going to want to let vehicle manufacturers have a monopoly over this data and be able to create all kinds of new markets and push all kinds of people out of existing markets,” he said. “They’re just not going to want to do that. And the OEMs know it’ll be incredibly difficult for them to get away with that.”

Jason Kerr, AIA’s manager of government relations, agreed, saying recent discussions over Right to Repair prove that the Canadian government is firmly in the camp of ensuring that all players should be on a level playing field and consumers should have ultimate say on the use of the data involved in fixing vehicles.

“It is illogical that the decision would be this data doesn’t belong to the consumer,” he said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

He said the first step in settling the telematics question is talking to vehicle manufacturers to find out whether they’re willing to share telematics data, and if so, how much.

“The tricky part in the U.S. is they don’t have the same kind of strength as we do in Canada with regard to privacy rules,” Kerr said. “The government there is more of the mindset that telematics data is proprietary, and that maybe sharing it would be a disadvantage to the OE.”

According to Walker, the Harris/Decima poll also showed:

* 74% of consumers recognize that “the car is quickly becoming a computer” with increasingly sophisticated communications technology built in to transmit diagnostic data;

* 51% know that the data can be collected and transmitted directly from the vehicle;

* 67% of people believe the data collected belongs to them;

* 82% say it should be their exclusive right to control that data;

* 85% strongly agree or somewhat agree that the consumer should have primary right to decide who to share the data with; and

* 89% say it is very important or somewhat important to codify the rules regarding telematics data.

Asked whom vehicle owners would “opt in” to have access to this data, the majority of respondents said they’d allow it to be sent to independent auto mechanics, and their roadside assistance providers. Significantly fewer indicated they would want to share the data with insurance companies, and auto manufacturers.

“That’s healthy. That’s good for us,” Walker said, “because that’s also how the privacy commissioners in Canada feel.”

Canada is one of the few places in the world where it has been made relatively clear that it is the consumer’s data, he said.

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