Audi CEO pledges to protect driver data in age of connected car

Audi CEO Rupert Stadler vowed to protect driver privacy in the age of the connected car, in an apparent snub of new market entrants including Google.

In a presentation to German executives in Berlin, Stadler warned that drivers' privacy is at risk from the push towards connected and self-driving cars, and that Audi is working with its domestic rivals to develop secure systems, Bloomberg reported.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt later told the same audience that the company wants to tap German companies' expertise to help it develop a European car strategy. The U.S. company has already worked with Audi and its parent Volkswagen, along with Opel, the German arm of General Motors, Bloomberg added.

Stadler believes that only drivers and their passengers should be able to access data collected by connected cars, Reuters reported, noting that marketers and advertisers are particularly interested in information relating to a vehicle's speed and location.

The Audi CEO's concerns echo those of BMW sales and marketing board member Ian Robertson, who in January revealed that the auto maker was being inundated with requests for access to vehicle data from technology and advertising companies.

BMW already installs firewalls in its vehicles to prevent systems being hacked, and so far has resisted the requests for access to the data, Robertson explained.

German auto makers recently teamed up to table a €700 million ($793 million) bid to acquire Nokia's HERE navigation business, in an attempt to develop their own in-car operating system and stem the march of tech companies including Google into the automotive sector.

Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri in May said the Finnish company is in no rush to decide on the future of HERE, and said a sale of the business is just one option open to it.

If the German car manufacturers succeed, they could use HERE to power self-driving cars, Bloomberg noted.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- view this Reuters report

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