Does Your Car Track Your Personal Information?

Privacy is a top concern of consumers. While on the one hand, we love it when companies can anticipate our needs and solve problems. However, on the other hand, we value our privacy and do not want to have our lives tracked by corporations. We realize that our online social media, shopping, and email communication can be tracked and we can act according to that knowledge. We still don’t want our privacy violated, but we understand the risk involved.

But… what about our cars? Huh, cars? Cars track our personal data? Yes. And not only do car manufacturers track a LOT of our personal data, they can also sell it – without our knowledge or permission.

As consumers, we expect companies to act in our interests when solving problems, but that is a common mistake. Corporations act in their best interest in the long run. Car buyers and drivers are given little or no control over all the personal data that cars track and collect. In addition, automotive security systems are also a concern when it comes to hacking.

Non-profit Mozilla Foundation researched 25 car brands to assess their security and data collection actions. None of the 25 car brands whose privacy notices were reviewed met even the minimum privacy standards. Furthermore, some automakers gather personal data not related to driving – including sexual activity, immigration status, race, facial expressions, weight, health, and genetic information. Additional data is gathered by sensors, microphones, cameras, and phones connected to cars.

What Mozilla found shouldn’t really surprise us. As car buyers, we don’t have many (if any) options as to the data the manufacturer can track about us when we’re in the car. Of the 25 brands, 19 of the companies’ privacy notices reviewed said they can sell our personal data. Half will share information in response to a “informal request” from government or law enforcement. Automakers were very vague about disclosing to whom they sell what data.

The worst three privacy violators cited by Mozilla were Tesla, Nissan, and Hyundai.

Who’s tracking you?

 Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Do they know what data cars are gathering about them? And what the companies do with this data?
  2. Show video:
  3. Show the Mozilla report:
  4. Divide students into teams. Have each team select an auto manufacturer and research the privacy statements made by the company.
  5. How does this present an opportunity for marketers?
  6. What could the company do to help protect the consumers’ privacy?

Source: Bajak, F. (11 September 2023). Analyst: Cars now ‘wiretaps on wheels.’ Associated Press.; Caltrider, J., Rykov, M., MacDonald, Z. (6 September 2023). It’s official: Cars are the worst product category we have ever reviewed for privacy. Mozilla Foundation.

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It’s here. Use Your Palm to Pay at Amazon Stores.

Amazon’s palm-scanning Amazon One payment technology has been in testing since 2020 and now is ready to expand to all of its 500+ Whole Foods stores in the U.S.

The palm-payment system works by having a customer place their palm above a biometric reader. It then matches the palm signature with a payment card already on file. What this means for the consumer is that you won’t need to have a wallet or phone with you to make a purchase. Just wave your palm over the scanner and walk out the door.

This isn’t a new concept, but now it is getting wider distribution. With Amazon One, the company is promoting to consumers that it can handle all their transactions without using any devices – all that’s needed is your hand.

Amazon One technology has been in place at 400 locations in the U.S. and has handled more than 3 million transactions to date. Some sports stadiums, entertainment venues, retailers, and more have used the system. To use it, consumers just have to pre-enroll via the Web at Amazon One’s site or in a Whole Foods store.

And of course the palm-scanning isn’t just about improving the customer experience. Amazon also gains more data about customers in both online and in-store purchases. Amazon One has also been embroiled in privacy debates about its use and concerns about misuse by law enforcement agencies.

How will you pay?

 Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Has anyone used palm-scanning while shopping? What has been their experience.
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team list the positive and negative factors for using palm-screening for consumers. What are the positive and negative factors for businesses?
  3. Show Amazon’s information page about the scanning:
  4. Play a video showing how to register and use palm-scanning:
  5. Also check the site for Amazon One locations in your geography. If there are any, consider having students shop at those locations to try the scanners and get their feedback.
  6. Have each team develop three different promotional tactics to ease consumer fears about the technology use.

Source: Mims, C. (11 August 2023). Amazon wants you to pay with your palm. It’s a sneak attack on Apple and Google. Wall Street Journal; Perez, S. (20 July 2023). Amazon’s palm-scanning payment technology is coming to all 500+ Whole Foods.

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Streamflation – Paying More for Streaming?

Have you heard the term “streamflation”? It’s a phrase being used to explain the increasing prices for entertainment streaming services.

On average, the cost of a major ad-free streaming service has increased by roughly 25% in the past year, with more increases to come. These increases account for the roughly $219 per month that consumers pay for subscriptions. That’s $2,628 per year!

Let’s take a quick look:

  • YouTube TV – in 2018 it cost $40; compared to 2023 at $73.
  • Netflix – in 2018 it cost $11; compared to 2023 at $15.49.
  • Disney+ – in 2019 it cost $7; compared to 2023 at $14.
  • ESPN+ – in 2018 it cost $5; compared to 2023 at $10.
  • Peacock – in 2018 it cost $5; compared to 2023 at $6.
  • Apple TV – in 2019 it cost $5; compared to 2023 at $7.

And don’t forget about music streaming such as Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music – all of which carry a monthly fee.

Some fees can be reduced if viewers are willing to accept advertising as part of the service. For example, Netflix has prices of $6.99 per month for ad-supported viewing, compared to $15.49 per month for ad-free viewing.

Why the steep increases? Because most streaming services have been losing money to the tune of millions, if not billions, of dollars. But can companies raise prices and expect customers to stay loyal?

What will you pay?

 Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Pricing is a complex topic. Discuss the six steps for pricing (determining objectives, estimating demand, determining cost/profit relationships, select price level, set list price, and make adjustments).
  2. Discuss the various pricing models in class: demand-oriented, cost-oriented, profit-oriented, and competition-oriented.
  3. Poll students: What do they pay each month for streaming?
  4. Show video about streaming inflation:
  5. Which pricing strategy is being used by streaming companies?
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team research the prices being used by the various streaming companies (Disney+, Netflix, Apple, Hulu, etc.). Include both ad-free and ad-supported prices.
  7. Draw a table on the white board that lists the companies and their prices.

Source: Whelan, R., Flint, J., Rattner, N. (15 August 2023). Streamflation is here and media companies are betting you’ll pay up. Wall Street Journal.

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