MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Sen. Al Franken is demanding answers from a major auto dealer after an executive said the company is using GPS information to track customers’ activities.
The statement was made by an executive at Ford Motor Company, and it’s the latest in a wave of revelations about privacy breaches that include government tracking of cell phone activity and the massive credit card breaches at Target and other stores.
Franken, a Democrat, is chairman of the Senate subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law and is using that platform to call for some major changes.
This is the statement that created the GPS stir: Ford Vice President Jim Farley said, “We know everyone who breaks the law; we know when you’re doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing. By the way, we don’t supply that data to anyone.”
Farley and Ford have since retracted the statement, but Franken says there is evidence that Ford is tracking and supplying personal information to other parties.
“The part that wasn’t true is that he said ‘But we don’t share that information,’ but actually they do share that information with third parties,” he said. “I got some clarification on that.”
In the wake of the Target data breach. Franken wrote the CEOs of major credit card companies asking why they are not using security chips like those used in European credit cards. The chips are widely considered to make cards more secure.
It all leaves consumers like Dan Paulnock wondering how far privacy barriers will fall.
“I’m concerned about that,” he said. “For all we know, the next set of kitchen knives we buy my have something in it that usurps our privacy.”
Later this week, President Barack Obama is scheduled to make a major speech on privacy in light of the backlash over revelations that the NSA is tracking millions of Americans cell phone records.
We reached out to Ford for a comment and have not heard back.