Markey Report Concerns Connected Vehicle Industry

February 26, 2015  - By

Editor’s note: Dennehy is GPS World’s editor for location-based services, writing a monthly column for the LBS Insider newsletter. The views expressed are his own. He will be covering the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona for GPS World. Contact him at with your news. 


Sen. Ed Markey’s new car technology report, released earlier this month, basically says that connected vehicles can be hacked, causing danger to drivers and presenting major privacy concerns. While some critics believe Markey’s report was meant to drive media hysteria, others say it raises serious issues that the industry needs to address. In other location news, I’ll be covering the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona for GPS World. What will be the showcased location technology? Wearables? Connected vehicles? Or something new? 

Kevin Dennehy

Kevin Dennehy

By Kevin Dennehy

A report released by Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) earlier this month says that even though drivers have come to rely on new connected technologies, automakers haven’t done their part to protect them from cyber attacks or privacy invasions

First reported by CBS News’ 60 Minutes, Markey’s report, Tracking & Hacking: Security & Privacy Gaps Put American Drivers at Risk, includes information from 16 automobile manufacturers who were given questions about security and privacy. However, few of the carmakers’ answers included how vehicles may be vulnerable to hackers — and what driver information is collected.

Location industry veteran Kim Fennell, deCarta CEO, said the report should be a real concern to the industry. “But it’s more of an issue for autonomous driving and the security of the car’s electronic control system. Even today, the OnStar service, which was a pioneer in the connected car space, can remotely slow your vehicle down in the event of a theft,” he said. “This feature, if hacked, could definitely create massive problems if the proper security technologies are not implemented.”

Markey’s report raised additional concerns about the use of navigation and other features that record and send location or driving history information.

Markey-telematicsFennell said there should be a distinction between the infotainment systems in the vehicle and the on-board control systems of the car.

“We believe that there should be a strict firewall between these systems so that nothing malicious can happen that is initiated from the connected infotainment system. Any data should flow one way — from the control system of the car to the infotainment system,” he said. “This is not to say that the connected infotainment system shouldn’t be secure, it should be. In working with our OEM and Tier One partners, we have implemented strict security protocols between our servers and their apps.”

Markey’s report found that “[automakers] use personal vehicle data in various ways, often vaguely to ‘improve the customer experience’ and usually involving third parties, and retention policies — how long they store information about drivers — vary considerably among manufacturers.”

In addition, the report found that customers are often not made aware of data collection and, when they are, they often cannot opt out without disabling features, such as navigation.

Source: Kenvin Dennehy

Percentage of Vehicles that can record driving history

Overall, Fennell hopes that the most malicious thing that could happen in the event of a hack of an infotainment system is that a “Pandora station is changed to play nothing but Justin Bieber songs, the traffic information for your route is projected to be ridiculously long or the Yelp rating of the restaurant that you are going to is lowered down to one star.”

Ultimately though, the driver should be in control of the car and nothing in the infotainment system should affect the behavior of the vehicle, Fennell said.

In terms of driver safety, in a recent survey, deCarta found that more than two-thirds of respondents considered dashboard screens that display videos and other Internet content to be the most dangerous types of onboard information systems. Approximately 79 percent of those polled preferred “voice-activated mapping systems that allow drivers to keep their eyes on the road” as an essential safety-enhancing feature.

“There are two things that infotainment systems could do better to prevent driver distraction. First, instead of replicating the stove-piped app store environment of the smartphone, in-car infotainment services could be better integrated,” Fennell said. “If I find a destination on Yelp, I’d like to send that to my navigation system instead of typing in the address. Second, with today’s better automated speech-recognition technology and text-to-speech engines, it’s now possible to make requests of your infotainment system using natural language commands. Voicebox is doing some great things in this area.”

Fennell said that most existing systems are not connected. “But those that are, aren’t predictive enough. Your navigation/infotainment system should almost work as a concierge,” he said. “It should recognize what time it is and realize you are most likely leaving for work and offer up the best route based on traffic conditions. It should recognize that you are going to a destination in an urban area and offer the most convenient parking to your destination.”

Company Rolls out Indoor Positioning Product that Doesn’t Require Retailer Involvement

After testing and demoing the product in San Francisco last year, IndoorAtlas is rolling out a consumer app called GPSindoor, which uses smartphones to locate shoppers inside a mall. The product features product proximity advertising to allow shoppers to see where they are relative to a product for promotion marketing.

The product includes a crowdsourcing function to allow user-generated data to build indoor maps, wayfinding and other options for shopping promotions, said Wibe Wagemans, IndoorAtlas president.

“We don’t need any retailers per se. We need only the shopper and [their] smartphone,” he said. “There is no brand or retailer involvement if you use our app. Unlike Wi-Fi and Bluetooth beacons, since GPSindoor relies on a community of shoppers, it allows for higher accuracy than static maps. That gives us the confidence to take on the giants like Apple Beacons and Google Indoor Maps head on — we are completely independent of retailers and not dependent on them for our success in becoming the GPS of indoors.”

In other location news:

  • HERE released a new version of its mapping system for Android, saying it made significant improvements. According to the company’s blog, after more than 3 million downloads, it is shedding the “beta” label with this version. In the beta version, when users asked for a route, the app gave them three car routes. If a user wanted public transit or pedestrian routes, they had to switch to the appropriate tab. This process was slow and inconvenient for people who don’t use a car all the time, HERE said.
  • In its recent financial statements, Garmin indicated a growing, and profitable, segment is its wearables/fitness band product line. Mio is also expanding its wearable offerings. This should be a big topic at next months’ Mobile World Congress.

I’ll be covering the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona for GPS World. Contact me at with your news.

About the Author: Kevin Dennehy

Kevin Dennehy is GPS World’s editor for location-based services, writing a monthly column for the LBS Insider newsletter. Dennehy has been writing about the location industry for more than 20 years. He covered GPS and location technology for Global Positioning & Navigation News for seven years. His articles on the wireless industry have been published in both consumer and trade magazines and newspapers.