A recent survey by Carwow, an online marketplace for buying and selling cars, has highlighted a significant data privacy issue in the used car market.

According to the survey, one-third (33%) of Carwow customers who bought a used car discovered personal data from the previous owner stored in the car’s infotainment system.

The survey found that a vast majority (83%) of respondents expect dealers to wipe personal data from the car before resale, whereas only 17% did not have this expectation. This discrepancy raises concerns about data privacy and the responsibilities of dealers, manufacturers, and previous owners.

Under current regulations, personal data includes any information that can identify an individual, such as home addresses, email addresses, or phone numbers. The presence of such data in used cars poses potential privacy risks.

Gaurav Jain, Commercial Director at Carwow, emphasized the potential future data privacy issues for dealers. “It can be unclear whether the responsibility to delete user information from a vehicle at the change of ownership lies with the first owner, the manufacturer, or the dealer,” he said. “Allocation of responsibility could be influenced by which of these entities might be considered the ‘controller’ of the data under GDPR laws.”

Carwow is urging the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to provide clearer guidelines on this issue. The company advises car sellers to remove all personal data from vehicles, including data from in-car apps, before handing them over. Additionally, dealers should take reasonable steps to remove such data themselves to safeguard both their interests and those of their customers.

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