What’s lost in the Tesla/NY Times discussion is how much information Tesla is collecting. Tesla collected the location, the speed, and the battery charge throughout the journey and referenced it during the rebuttal. Is Tesla collecting this data for every car sold? Do the drivers know this data is being collected? If John Broder knew Tesla had this data from his drive his review would have turned out differently. We’re all in favor of truth and honesty in reporting but should it be this easy to share data? What prevents Elon Musk from digging into the driving data of a politician who proposes some legislation that will adversely impact Tesla and finds likely unethical behavior?

As software eats the world, data will be collected from more and more areas of our lives. Target is already figuring out whether you’re pregnant and this is just from using your purchase history. Combine that with other data sources, increased computation power, and cheaper data storage and companies end up knowing us better than we know ourselves. We need to make sure that our privacy evolves alongside the data. Currently, the concept of data privacy is too abstract to make us care. We need to see the actual data and the derived results in order to see how valuable it is. Only then will we want to protect it.

Disclosure: I love what Tesla is doing and own Tesla stock. I also realize that this data is used to offer a better, cheaper product. At the same time, I believe we need to find the right approach to privacy when it comes to our data.

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