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'They basically reserve the right to know literally everything about you' | New report details how new cars can steal your data

A new report by the Mozilla Foundation details just how much data cars can actually gather.

AUSTIN, Texas — A new report from the Mozilla Foundation said cars have unmatched power to spy on you and sell your data. 

"This research basically said they have never seen a product category so disastrous for privacy as modern cars," said Kevin Welch, the President of EFF Austin. "This report is pretty shocking."

Mozilla reviewed the top 25 car brands, which include Ford, Toyota and Tesla. They all failed to meet Mozilla's privacy standards by collecting too much personal data and using it for reasons other than managing your vehicle.

"They basically reserve the right to know literally everything about you," Welch said. "Like, there's not any category of data. Name it, social security, passport, credit card, financial transactions, apps, the music you listen to, podcasts you listen to, where you drive, what businesses you frequent."

They even track how you move through the car's touch sensors and reserve the right to record outside of your vehicle using the cameras and other sensors.

Some of the creepier findings include at least five company policies, including Nissan's, saying they reserve the right to collect genetic information like DNA and your sexual activity.

"I'm not quite sure what they used with their all the sensors to determine that and why, but they reserve the right yet again," Welch said.

The report states that 56% will share data with law enforcement in response to an informal request, and 84% share or sell personal data to third parties, including data brokers.

"None of them really govern the data broker industry," Welch said. "So once your data gets to a data broker, there is literally no protection on what can be done with that data. Literally, anyone can ask for that data for any reason, and if they have the money to pay the data broker, the data broker will give it to them."

If you're in or even around cars, there isn't a way to completely protect your personal data. Welch said plugging in through a charger or using Bluetooth in your vehicle will give it some data, but it's worse if you connect to your car through an automaker's mobile app.

"It's hard to tell if any of this data is properly encrypted," Welch said. "Have you heard about, you know, big data breaches? There have been multiple enormous data breaches of major car brands in the last 10 years."

Welch said the only way to change this is to demand reform from lawmakers.

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