Mozilla report finds Tesla is worst carmaker for data privacy — and Nissan the “creepiest”

Tesla has the worst data protection policies of 25 major car brands, according to a recent analysis of user privacy and security policies among carmakers conducted by Mozilla.

The Internet software company spent over 600 hours researching the brands’ privacy practices for its latest *Privacy Not Included report, which makes recommendations to consumers based on a product’s handling of personal data.

Overall, it found that cars were the worst product category it had ever reviewed for privacy.

“All 25 car brands we researched earned our *Privacy Not Included warning label,” Mozilla said.

“While we worried that our doorbells and watches that connect to the Internet might be spying on us, car brands quietly entered the data business by turning their vehicles into powerful data-gobbling machines.”

“Machines that, because of their all those brag-worthy bells and whistles, have an unmatched power to watch, listen, and collect information about what you do and where you go in your car.

Tesla was found to be wanting in all five criteria Mozilla used to measure carmakers’ personal data privacy and security features.

These were as follows:

  • Data use — How much personal data does the carmaker collect?
  • Track Record — Does the carmaker share or sell users’ data?
  • Data control — Does the carmaker give users control over their personal data?
  • Security — Does the carmaker meet Minimum Security Standards?
  • AI — Does the carmaker use untrustworthy AI?

The Elon Musk-owned carmaker was the second product Mozilla had ever reviewed that failed in all five departments.

“What set them apart was earning their ‘untrustworthy AI’,” Mozilla said.

“The brand’s AI-powered Autopilot was reportedly involved in 17 deaths and 736 crashes and is currently the subject of multiple government investigations.”

It should be emphasised that the report Mozilla cites only makes mention of cases in which Autopilot was allegedly — not conclusively — involved in these accidents.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not made any findings on the causes of the incidents and whether Autopilot could be blamed for them.

It is also strange that Mozilla includes Autopilot’s supposed failures as a category in its analysis, seeing as it has no bearing on data privacy or security, but concerns driver safety.

Other bad apples

Aside from Tesla, 16 major manufacturers failed in the other four categories that Mozilla analysed.

Nissan was second-worst for collecting some of the “creepiest” categories of data that Mozilla had ever seen.

The company’s privacy policy says it can include details like your “sexual activity.”

“Not to be outdone, Kia also mentions they can collect information about your ‘sex life’ in their privacy policy,” Mozilla said.

In addition, six more companies said they could collect users’ “genetic information” or “genetic characteristics.”

Mozilla was also seriously concerned about Hyundai going above and beyond in its willingness to share users’ information with the government or law enforcement.

“In their privacy policy, it says they will comply with ‘lawful requests, whether formal or informal.’ That’s a serious red flag,” Mozilla said.

Mozilla’s methodology for its *Privacy not Included reports is available on its website.

The table below shows the car brands Mozilla assessed in its report, ranked from “bad to worst”. The “❌” symbol indicates a failure in the particular category.

25 carmakers’ user privacy policies compared
Manufacturer Data use Data control Track record Security AI 
Renault
Dacia
BMW
Subaru
Fiat
Jeep
Chrysler
Dodge
Volkswagen
Toyota
Lexus
Ford
Lincoln
Audi
Mercedes-Benz
Honda
Acura
Kia
Chevrolet
Buick
GMC
Cadillac
Hyundai
Nissan
Tesla

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Mozilla report finds Tesla is worst carmaker for data privacy — and Nissan the “creepiest”