“Behind the wheel, it’s nothing but you, the open road – and your car quietly recording your every move. Cars have become the most sophisticated computers many of us own, filled with hundreds of sensors. Even older models know an awful lot about you. Many copy personal data as soon as you plug in a smartphone.”

That’s what the technology reporter for The Washington Post learned when he talked with Jim Mason, an engineer who hacks into cars computers for a firm called ARCCA to reconstruct accidents to better understand crashes and thefts. The reporter asked Mason to conduct a forensic analysis of a Chevy Volt. The analysis focused on the computer with the most accessible data, the “infotainment” system for the vehicle’s touch-screen audio controls, but many other systems interact with it, from navigation to a synced-up smartphone. The system contained a map of previous destinations the driver of the Chevy Volt had driven to. But it also contained a reassure trove of data points with unique identifiers for the driver’s and passengers’ phones, and a detailed log of phone calls made the previous week. There was a long list of contacts, including people’s addresses, e-mails, even photos.

Mark Berg is a former instructor for the AARP Driver Safety Program. His email address is MABerg175@comcast.net.

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