Used car dealers warned to ensure electronic fingerprints and app access wiped from cars to avoid serious issues

Time 7:47 am, December 1, 2020

Car dealers are being warned to remove all digitally stored personal data from used cars on their forecourts before selling them on.

Personal records – including records of paired Bluetooth devices stored in the car – should be carefully wiped and removed before reselling.

Motor trade legal specialists Lawgistics warn that this ‘highly sensitive’ and ‘valuable’ data extends to apps that are connected to modern cars and allow owners to track their vehicle, flash the headlights and in some cases even open the doors.

Volvo offers an App to its owners that shows where it is parked on a live map and owners can open doors remotely. It is paired with the car until such a time as the app is deleted from the user’s phone or the connection severed by the car. 

Lawgistics’ Howard Tilney said: ‘Responsible motor traders would not dream of handing over customers’ personal details to third parties without their consent, but that is precisely what is happening if a car is sold without the previous owners’ and perhaps even their own personal data erased from the car’s database.

‘If this data is not erased properly and all electronic connections unpaired then not only could such highly sensitive and valuable data be accessed by the new owner or others, but the previous owner could even track the vehicle and open its doors.’

Lawgistics warns that this could have ‘major implications’ for car dealers and could represent a ‘serious data breach’ if a car is allowed out without third-party data removed. 

Tilney added: ‘This applies equally to hire and loan cars so all personal data must be removed after each user returns the car. 

‘Motor traders are strongly advised to make it their practice to remove all personal data and unpair connected applications as part of its preparation before they sell or handover any used car.’

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The motor trade legal experts say it is best practice to prove to the the buyer and seller that the data has been removed and access via any apps has been revoked.

This way ‘dealers can not only stay on the right side of the law, but add extra value to the customer experience’ explained Lawgistics.

Car Dealer has partnered with Lawgistics to offer Car Dealer Plus members free legal advice. 

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James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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