Peter Holley has an important article in the January 16th Washington Post. He’s written about the clauses in many car lease agreements and/or service agreements that authorize the car maker to collect customer data from the car itself (peter.holley@washpost.com; “Cars collect reams of information on owners”; Page A1).

As Mr. Holley highlights, customers may be unaware of the magnitude of personal information that can be collected by agreeing to this “tracking provision”.  It’s information not just about the way in which the customer uses her car (e.g., the speed at which the car’s driven) but even more detailed information about such personal preferences as where the customer shops, what the customer likes to eat and even down to such details about where the customer parks her car.

It’s hard to read the lengthy service and/or lease agreements but customers should make the effort to do so when buying a new car. While the car manufacturers might claim they only collect customer information with their explicit permission, they can assume such permission when a customer doesn’t read and object to this kind of “tracking” provision that’s buried in small print in a multi-page document.