LONDON: Mercedes has come under fire over privacy issues after it admitted to installing secret trackers in its cars to obtain their location.
All cars sold by Mercedes-Benz dealers have been fitted with tracking devices to identify the car’s exact location. Although Mercedes Benz has stated that it does not use this feature actively, it remains silent on how long they have been using these sensors, as published by The Sun.
The company sold more than 170,000 new cars to Britain this year and under EU data protection laws, tracking a vehicle without the driver’s knowledge is illegal. This has escalated the issue, attracting criticism from legal experts and human rights groups like ‘Liberty’, labelling this act as the “creeping growth of surveillance”.
Mercedes customers are also alarmed by this news, worrying what other information the company may have shared after it admitted to sharing this data with third party bailiffs and recovery firms who repossess cars, reports The Sun.
Meanwhile, the company has defended its actions, saying, ‘location services’ was a feature that was agreed to by the customer, when signing the contract upon purchasing the car. They added that: “This clause in the finance contract is in bold print, just above the customer’s signature.”
The automobile firm clarified the data mismanagement allegations by saying that they used this service only when a customer on a financial plan failed to comply, saying: “It is only activated in exceptional circumstances where the customer has breached their finance agreement and repeatedly failed to reply to requests to contact us.”
However, Mercedes’ rivals, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Volkswagen have denied using any such tracking technology, putting Mercedes directly under the spotlight according to the Daily Mail.
Ex-Cabinet minister David Davis has called for the government to investigate the matter and has warned the company to notify its customers about such devices and upgrades beforehand to ensure proper data handling and privacy in the future.