Ford: ‘We Know Everyone Who Breaks The Law’ (Thanks To Our GPS In Your Car)

Jim Edwards  reports:  Ford’s Global VP/Marketing and Sales, Jim Farley, said something both sinister and obvious during a panel discussion about data privacy today at CES, the big electronics trade show in Las Vegas.

Jim Farley of Ford

Bad PR: Creepy Weasel Statist Big-Brother comments from Jim Farley of Ford

Because of the GPS units installed in Ford vehicles, Ford knows when many of its drivers are speeding, and where they are while they’re doing it.

Farley was trying to describe how much data Ford has on its customers, and illustrate the fact that the company uses very little of it in order to avoid raising privacy concerns: “We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing. By the way, we don’t supply that data to anyone,” he told attendees.

If this guy doesn’t freak you out, you probably shouldn’t be driving a car

Farley has since retracted his statements.

Rather, he said, he imagined a day when the data might be used anonymously and in aggregate to help other marketers with traffic related problems. Suppose a stadium is holding an event; knowing how much traffic is making its way toward the arena might help the venue change its parking lot resources accordingly, he said.

Jim Farley, at right, on a panel with Facebook exec Carolyn Everson at CES today.

Jim Farley, at right, on a panel with Facebook exec Carolyn Everson at CES today.

A Ford spokesperson later told Business Insider that in general, GPS units in Ford cars are not routinely pinging out their whereabouts as customers drive around. Rather, Ford cars have several on-board services such as “Sync Services Directions” (a navigation device that works with drivers’ phones) and 911 Assist, which users have to switch on and opt into. And employers can use a service called “Crew Chief” to monitor their corporate car fleet. Data coming from those services is generally used only to improve services, a spokesperson says.

Farley himself then walked back the statement, saying “I absolutely left the wrong impression about how Ford operates. We do not track our customers in their cars without their approval or consent.”

Business Insider

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3 Comments on “Ford: ‘We Know Everyone Who Breaks The Law’ (Thanks To Our GPS In Your Car)”

  1. Joy Thompson says:

    Their official policy is to not “track their customers in their cars without their approval or consent.” So, such things would never happen. Just like the NSA and IRS would never use their resources to target innocent Americans. Right.


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