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Automakers Struggle to Address Privacy Issues in Era of High-Tech Cars

by on Mar.06, 2015

Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann demonstrates the OnStar technology at the Geneva Motor Show.

Like dozens of other manufacturers, General Motors’ European Opel brand had a hot new vehicle to introduce during the Geneva Motor Show press preview this week, its subcompact Karl model.

But Opel opened its news conference at Geneva’s PALExpo convention center with a more high-tech announcement, word that it would launch GM’s OnStar telematics service in vehicles sold in much of Europe later this year.

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The technology, proclaimed Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann, “transforms the car into a true part of the Internet of things.” But it also raises some of the same concerns consumers face on the Internet, including how to protect their privacy. (more…)

Ford’s Farley Apologizes Over Spying Flap

Says he misspoke; automakers aren’t tracking where you drive.

by on Jan.10, 2014

Jim Farley, Lincoln's brand boss and the global marketing chief for parent Ford Motor Co., is backtracking from recent comments where he said the maker was tracking driving information.

With Americans already worked up over the idea that the federal government’s National Security Agency is spying on their e-mails and phone calls, it’s likely little surprise that Ford Motor Co. Global Marketing Director Jim Farley touched off another furor this week when he told an audience at the Consumer Electronics Show that the automaker is tracking their travels thanks to their in-car navigation systems.

“We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it,” Farley said at the huge Las Vegas convention where he served as one of the headliners. The good side, he added, is that “We don’t supply that data to anyone.”

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Small comfort. Make that no comfort. With the NSA spy scandal still a matter of headlines, Ford’s apparent use of Big Brother-style technology didn’t sit very well, generating its own flurry of stories – which the Detroit maker is now trying to back away from. In a follow-up interview on CNBC, Farley apologized and backtracked away from his comments at CES.  (more…)

Ex Ford Engineer Arrested for Spying for Chinese

He allegedly copied thousands of sensitive documents.

by on Oct.16, 2009

The FBI has arrested a former Ford engineer and charged him with illegally copying thousands of secret documents he allegedly provided a Chinese company.

The FBI arrested a former Ford engineer who is charged with illegally copying documents, which he then provided to a Chinese company.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has arrested a former Ford Motor Co. engineer on charges of stealing secrets from the automaker and selling them to a Chinese supplier.

Xiang Dong, aka Mike Yu, 47, of Beijing, China, was charged in a five-count federal indictment with theft of trade secrets, attempted theft of trade secrets and unauthorized access to a protected computer, Terrence Berg, US attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan said Thursday in announcing the charges, which followed an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Yu was arrested on October 14, 2009 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago after re-entering the United States following a visit to China.

Trade Secrets and Other Stories.

Trade Secrets and Other Stories.

Yu was a product engineer at Ford from 1997 to 2007 and he had access to Ford trade secrets, including Ford design documents.  Yu left Ford for a job with the American subsidiary of a Chinese company, according to the indictment handed down by a federal grand jury in Detroit.