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Privacy in the Age of Autonomous Vehicles


Ivan L. Sucharski & Philip Fabinger


April 27, 2017

To prepare for the age of the intelligent, highly connected, and autonomous vehicle, a new approach to concepts of granting consent, managing privacy, and dealing with the need to interact quickly and meaningfully is needed. Additionally, in an environment where personal data is rapidly shared with a multitude of independent parties, there exists a need to reduce the information asymmetry that currently exists between the user and data collecting entities. This Article rethinks the traditional notice and consent model in the context of real-time communication between vehicles or vehicles and infrastructure or vehicles and other surroundings and proposes a re-engineering of current privacy concepts to prepare for a rapidly approaching digital future. In this future, multiple independent actors such as vehicles or other machines may seek personal information at a rate that makes the traditional informed consent model untenable.

This Article proposes a two-step approach: As an attempt to meet and balance user needs for a seamless experience while preserving their rights to privacy, the first step is a less static consent paradigm able to better support personal data in systems which use machine based real-time communication and automation. In addition, the article proposes a radical re-thinking of the current privacy protection system by sharing the vision of “Privacy as a Service” as a second step, which is an independently managed method of granular technical privacy control that can better protect individual privacy while at the same time facilitating high-frequency communication in a machine-to-machine environment.