An investigation in the Sun newspaper today (20 August 2019), reveals that Mercedes have installed tracking devices in all their cars. These sensors can pinpoint a vehicle’s exact location.
Mercedes claim that the addition is a necessary protection for dealers who have sold the vehicle on finance and is only activated in “extreme circumstances” when those customers default on their payments.
This must raise issues of privacy as the data has been passed to third parties such as bailiffs and recovery agents. Stefano Ruis, civil law partner at Hickman & Rose solicitors, told the Sun: “This appears to be another worrying development in the way companies handle what should be private, personal data.
“Modern technology means our ability to keep personal information private is under threat like never before.
“Organisations that handle personal data need to be completely upfront about what they are doing. That Mercedes appear not to have been so in this case is concerning. Its customers may start to worry about what other personal information the company may be gathering, then passing on.”
Ex-Cabinet minister David Davis has called for an urgent investigation into the legality of passing personal data to third parties, adding: “This is not the first time big business has behaved like Big Brother — but it’s rare to be quite as deceitful as this.”
The human rights organisation, Liberty, linked Mercedes actions as part of the “creeping growth of surveillance.”
Mercedes defended their actions by saying that the information about the devices is included in the terms and conditions of the finance contract, adding: “When a customer chooses to finance the purchase of their car this way they sign a contract and agree to the location sensors in the car being activated in the event that they default or breach their agreement.”
However, Mercedes wouldn’t confirm how long they have been doing this, nor would they comment on the devices in cars not bought on finance.
Source: The Sun newspaper