Insurers admit telematics data shared with police

One of the big fears people have with telematics, is the big brother aspect, the idea that people might look in on what you’ve been doing. For the most part that’s not true as data is most often encrypted and anonimised and used as part of computational analytics rather than individual snooping. However, the major insurers have now admitted that in some circumstances, they will hand over telematics data to the police.

While many would be ok with this idea if it was related to some sort of investigation, with a warrant served for the data just as most other personal information requests require, the worry is that police will use it as proof of speeding. Many millions of people speed on a day to day basis without much issue, but if telematics can prove that, there is concern that police could rack up some extra funds by using telematics data against drivers.

That becomes an even bigger problem when you factor in that nobody is quite sure who owns telematics data. You could equally argue that the driver does, as well as the insurer that provided the system, or the telematics manufacturer. What is eventually decided by law, could have quite an impact on the industry.

There’s also a bit of a moral quandary with this sort of potential policing too, as many telematics users take on the technology to improve their driving habits. Tackling them for speeding would be the equivalent of going to an alcoholic anonymous meeting and berating people for drinking too much.


Sometimes telematics isn’t necessary to figure out what happened…

Fortunately then, it seems most likely that the insurers will share only important information with emergency services, like your location in the event of a serious accident. Or if you were to cause an accident, police may want to look over how you were driving leading up to it.

Ian Crowder from AA said (via Telegraph): “If a driver is involved in a serious crash and the police suspect they were exceeding the speed limit, they may ask to see the telematics data. We would only hand this over with a court order.”

This seems like a fair instance of data sharing, as it’s part of a criminal investigation, not an attempt to fish for a crime. It’s also similar to what a lot of insurers are doing elsewhere in the world, like in Italy where they share telematics data in order to decide who was at fault in an accident. This isn’t possible in the UK right now, as everyone is using different systems (and more cars have telematics in Italy, since it became mandatory), but there’s potential for it in the future.

It’s certainly something that’s being used to prevent insurance fraud in some countries. In Russia for example, video footage and telematics data is helping avoid scams where people jump in-front of cars to claim compensation.

How do you guys feel about your data being shared? When is it ok, and when is it not?

Image source: Kim ScarboroughDave Conner

[Thanks Telegraph]

    Jon Martindale

    Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.

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