Article by Ruben Guerra

With technology growing and changing every day, buinesses have to stay up with demand from competitors and consumers. This is the same when it comes to your car. Cars have been changing rapidly to address consumers looking to stay connected even when driving on the road. A new Nielsen report shows consumers are just as interested in apps, gigabytes and touch screens as they are in transmissions and horsepower. Therefore, auto makers are creating features and systems to address consumer needs and stay ahead of their competitors.

Which is exactly what residents of Los Angeles are always looking for. Los Angeles is an extremely competitive city and Angelenos are always looking for the next best thing. With the amount of traffic this city gets on a daily basis, it is essential to be connected and productive, even when in the car. And that is happening at a rapid pace. Currently, one in five cars on the road are connected to the Internet. By 2025, experts believe 100 percent of the cars on the road will be connected.

But what choices does a consumer have in regards to what information is gathered and shared to improve the driving experience? Right now, none. There are no laws that address a consumer’s access to and choice of information collected by their vehicle. The industry is changing swiftly and consumers need to be informed about what data is being collected.

Ground rules need to be in place to ensure that their information and privacy is protected. Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) has taken the lead in creating access to and safeguards for information collected by our new moving computers. Monning recently introduced SB 994, the Consumer Vehicle Information Choice Act. If passed, it would require car manufactures to inform consumers what data are collected and transmitted from their vehicle.

Information Control

The bill will give consumers the choice on when and with whom the information is shared. Right now, auto makers have full control of the information collected and consumers have no clue what data they have and to whom they are giving it.

The Latin Business Association supports this bill for two important reasons. First, many auto body shops and tow companies are Latino operated. They are at a disadvantage as auto makers can keep critical information or tools from such shops, preventing them from being able to fix a car. This bill will make sure they can service their customers as the car owners get to decide who can access their vehicle’s information.

Secondly, we support this bill because many immigrants who are new to California do not know they can ask questions or inquire about a car they want to purchase. They accept everything the dealer tells them with no questions asked. This legislation will ensure that consumers are informed about their rights on data collection before they purchase a car.

Additionally, restricting data access not only takes away consumers’ right to know and choice to share their information or not, it can constrain competition and innovation. Would you buy your phone if it only had the services and apps it came with? Opening up the system to allow more startups and small businesses to give a wide variety of options for a consumer to choose from is only right.

The market for connected car services is just beginning. There are endless ideas and opportunities to make cars safer and more convenient. SB 994 would lay the groundwork for a more open market for consumers to choose from and select services they trust.

The bottom line is that cars are big electronic, connected devices that can track your moves and preferences, and for the most part, that is a good thing. More and more opportunities are ahead to completely change your driving experience for the better, but it can’t happen if auto makers have sole access and knowledge about what data is being collected and how it is being transmitted. SB 994 gives you access to your own data and future opportunities on how to use it.

Ruben Guerra is chairman and chief executive officer of the Latin Business Association (LBA), headquarted in downtown Los Angeles.

Source: This article was originally published in the April 7, 2014 issue of the Los Angeles Business Journal, an LBA Media Partner.